‘Active Noise Cancellation without breaking the bank’ seemed to be the theme going around in the TWS market in 2021 and that has spilled over into 2022 as well. And boy, are we glad! We absolutely love that budget audio manufacturers are taking on the mantle of democratising premium features such as ANC for the masses. DIZO, a brand under the Realme TechLife ecosystem, has already seen some success in the budget ANC TWS area with the DIZO GoPods. However, those earphones were essentially rebranded Realme Buds Air 2 earphones. We remember wishing for some originality from DIZO in the future in the ANC space, and we’ve got that now with the newly-launched DIZO Buds Z Pro. Priced at Rs 2,999, the DIZO Buds Z Pro is the upgraded version of the DIZO Buds Z that launched in September 2021. The Pro variant comes with improved battery life, ANC support, Bluetooth v5.2, and a slightly modified design. These buds compete against other budget Active Noise Cancelling TWS such as the Realme Buds Air 2 and the Redmi Earbuds 3 Pro. Let’s see if DIZO, a company still in its infancy, can make a big enough splash in this segment.
DIZO Buds Z Pro: Performance – Sound, microphone, and wireless connectivity
The DIZO Buds Z Pro are equipped with 10mm dynamic drivers with a frequency range of 20Hz-20kHz, the same as their non-Pro equivalent. The buds support only the SBC codec, which is extremely disappointing since most earbuds in this price range support SBC and AAC codecs. However, the company has definitely re-tuned these earbuds. They offer a more balanced and smooth sound signature as compared to the DIZO Buds Z. The bass is still boosted but the mids and highs aren’t as overemphasised, so the resulting sound is more pleasant to listen to.
Uncompensated frequency response graph of DIZO Buds Z Pro (Light Green) vs Neutral Response (Dark Green)
The bass response is slightly bloated and it negatively impacts the clarity and detail in the mids due to auditory masking. However, the mid-range from 500Hz-2kHz is very well produced, so when it isn’t marred by auditory masking due to the boosted bass, the mids sound intricate and detailed. Vocals are crystal clear and lead instruments sound pristine, which is excellent for sub-2K TWS earphones. Now, the highs from 2kHz-4kHz are slightly boosted, so there is some sibilance present, but nowhere near as much as was present on the DIZO Buds Z.
The DIZO Buds Z Pro are priced in the same range as the Realme Buds Air 2 and the Redmi Earbuds 3 Pro. While they definitely sound miles better than the Redmi Earbuds 3 Pro with its absolutely chaotic bass representation, the Realme Buds Air 2 are definitely better tuned and more balanced sounding. None of these earphones are suitable for audiophiles or purists, of course. They are more geared towards users who prefer a bass-forward pair of earphones that work well with genres such as pop, rap, EDM, and Bollywood.
Moving on to the imaging of these earbuds, it is pretty good for the sub-2K price point. You can tell the general direction a sound is coming from, but it isn’t extremely precise. The soundstage is pretty narrow and the sound feels like it’s staying in and around your head instead of expanding wider. Overall, these are decent, warm-sounding earphones with punchy bass that does sound bloated at times.
Moving on to microphone performance, the DIZO Buds Z Pro employs dual microphones with Environmental Noise Cancellation. The microphone performs very well indoors with crisp-sounding voices being relayed, however, when you’re outdoors with a lot of ambient noise, the microphone picks up too much surrounding chatter and your voice can sound distorted and muffled. So, we suggest using the microphone primarily when you’re indoors.
As for wireless connectivity, the earphones come with Bluetooth v5.2 which is a step up over the DIZO Buds Z’s Bluetooth 5.0. There were no stutters or lags when listening to music and the connection process is simple and fast. Once you have paired the earphones to your source device, reconnecting to the device after that is almost instantaneous. Another perk is Game Mode that lowers the latency to 88ms. We watched TV shows and played games using these earphones and noticed very minimal latency. The audio is almost perfectly synced up with the video, so you won’t face too many issues on this front with Game Mode on.
DIZO Buds Z Pro: Active Noise Cancellation and other features
Being the upgraded version of the DIZO Buds Z, the Pro variant incorporates Active Noise Cancellation which was absent in the older variant. The company claims up to 25dB of ambient noise suppression via this feature. In our tests, the Active Noise Cancellation performance proved to be pretty decent. It subdues low, constant sounds such as an AC’s hum, an airplane’s drone, and a PC’s whirring sound. It won’t, however, diminish higher-frequency sounds such as human voices and high-speed fans. For the price though, it is pretty decent. If you’re looking for an entry-level pair of TWS earphones with ANC, these earbuds perform sufficiently well.
The earbuds also come with a Transparent Mode that amplifies environmental sounds so that you can stay aware of your surroundings when walking on a busy street or at a railway station. The Transparent Mode on these earbuds isn’t very effective though. Ambient sounds are still pretty dull due to the earphones’ snug fit.
A stellar feature on the DIZO Buds Z Pro is Realme Link app support. The app is very versatile and provides EQ presets to choose from, noise cancellation modes, customisable controls, quick toggles for volume enhancer mode and game mode, and battery status for the earbuds. You can choose between three EQ presets – Bright, Dynamic and Bass Boost+. We found the Dynamic preset to be the most balanced. You can also perform firmware updates via the app.
Now, we did have a few issues with these earbuds. Firstly, there’s absolutely no feedback sound to indicate that you switched between noise cancellation modes or to game mode. Especially when it comes to game mode, there’s no way to know if the gesture has registered, so we’d have to open up the app and check every time to see if modes have switched. DIZO told us that at the moment there are no notification sounds but they did mention that this will be present when the earbuds are available for purchase. We hope the sound feedback does make its way through to the final version since it is really inconvenient to not have them.
Secondly, the touch controls on the earbuds are really unreliable and finicky. We faced many misreadings, as well as the controls completely failing to be read at times. We hope DIZO can fix this via a firmware update, but we’re not too sure if it is something that can be rectified via a software update. Also, switching between noise cancellation modes has a pretty perceivable delay. You have to wait for a second or two for the switch to register, which can get annoying as well. These issues and annoyances marred us from having a smooth experience.
The touch controls allow you to control music playback and calls, however, there are no volume controls, which is disappointing. Lastly, the earbuds are rated IPX4 sweat and water-resistant which make them suitable to be used when exercising. Overall, we’ve got a feature-laden pair of earphones with the DIZO Buds Z Pro, albeit there are some hiccups – both hardware and software-related – that sour the experience quite a bit.
DIZO Buds Z Pro: Battery life
The DIZO Buds Z that launched in 2021 disappointed us with its paltry 16 hours of playtime, however, the Buds Z Pro has rectified that. These buds come with a total battery life of 25 hours. You get 7 hours of wireless playback on a single charge from the earbuds. It’s a huge improvement from its predecessor and we applaud the company for managing to do that while only increasing the weight of the earbuds by 0.2g.
In our tests, with ANC turned on and the volume set to 60 per cent, we got about 5.5 hours of playback from the earbuds and about three extra charges from the charging case. If you keep ANC off, your mileage will definitely improve. There’s no fast charging support though. The DIZO Buds Z Pro has great battery life although we did miss the convenience of fast charging.
DIZO Buds Z Pro: Build, design, and comfort
The original DIZO Buds Z had an eye-catching design with a matte case and attractive colour options. This time around, the DIZO Buds Z Pro’s charging case and earbuds have a glossy texture which is a step back in our opinion. The glossy textured case attracts a LOT of fingerprints. Additionally, it doesn’t look quite as premium as the matte texture on the Buds Z.
The DIZO Buds Z Pro is available in two colours – Orange Black and Ocean Blue. We got the latter for review. The outside of the case is a dark blue colour while the inside is a lighter blue shade, making it a dual-tone design. In our opinion, the Orange Black version looks classier.
The charging case of the DIZO Buds Z Pro is very compact and easily slips into small bags and pockets without bulging too much. The front houses the DIZO logo along with an LED indicator light. On the bottom, you have a USB Type-C port for charging. The case flips open easily and even opens one-handed without any issues. It shuts with an audible, satisfying snap, which we love. Additionally, the magnets that hold the earbuds inside the case are extremely strong. The buds don’t budge from inside the case even when you shake the case with a lot of force.
The earbuds have a stem design and they are pretty lightweight. The stems have a shiny effect that will definitely stand out in a crowd. The earbuds’ stems also have a touch-sensitive zone for music and call controls. We mentioned before that the controls aren’t very reliable, so keep that in mind.
Since the earbuds weigh merely 3.9g each, they’re supremely comfortable to wear over long periods of time. The angled earbud nozzles ensure that most users will get a snug and tight fit. DIZO has provided a total of 3 pairs of differently-sized silicone ear tips. The earbuds stay on tight during most activities such as walking, running and even exercising. Overall, the buds are supremely comfortable and have a very snug fit, but the glossy finish makes them look slightly gaudy.
DIZO Buds Z Pro: Verdict
Priced at Rs 2,999, the DIZO Buds Z Pro democratises ANC for the masses. They compete with a few other earbuds that have done the same such as the Realme Buds Air 2, Redmi Earbuds 3 Pro and the Noise Air Buds. The DIZO Buds Z stand somewhere in the middle of the pack when it comes to performance. With their bloated bass response, they don’t perform nearly as well as the Realme Buds Air 2 that only costs a few hundred rupees more, but they do match up to most other competitors. With app support, IPX4 water resistance, USB Type-C charging, and Active Noise Cancellation, the DIZO Buds Z Pro provides more than enough bang for your buck.
But, a few hitches such as the unreliable touch controls, delay in switching between noise cancellation modes, and the bloated bass response stop them from being close to perfect for the price. To reach as close to perfection as possible in this price range, we still would suggest the Realme Buds Air 2 over others. However, the DIZO Buds Z Pro will be available at an introductory price of Rs 2,299 when they launch on January 13. So, at that price, we would urge you to grab these earphones without giving it too much thought.