I recently received two packages from China – one is from Shenyang, the other from Hong Kong (though not technically China, only geographically). Lee sent me the Venture Electronics Monk IE Biggie and Smalls, the latest creatures born from his (and KK’s) work. On the other hand, Andy at Zorloo kindly sent me a review unit of the ZuperDAC-S, the all-new version of their highly successful ZuperDAC.
Allow me to write a bit of a rant against post – funny thing is that the Monk IE were shipped at the beginning of November, the ZuperDAC-S at the end of November, yet they both appeared at my doorstep at the beginning of January. Standard post is slow and that’s a known fact, but I hoped it would take less than two months to deliver a package when DHL only takes three days. Yes, price is different and all that – but two months. Really? Of course this is none’s fault (except for the post,that is). I had hoped I could get these back in December so I would not be flooded with products, but life always finds ways to be interesting and challenging – all the better!
Now, the Venture Electronics Monk IE Biggie and Smalls are VE’s signature IEMs and they are the in-ear heirs to the Monk family. They actually have nothing to do with them from a sonic perspective, but they share the same spirit and approach – a muscular show of what can be achieved without breaking the bank. They are affordable units ($40 each, $60 the pair) that shoot for warm, involving sound with a big soundstage. These are not your classic IEMs, in terms of both sound and wearing style – though I’ll elaborate on that in my upcoming review.
They come with a full set of eartips – they actually have each and every type I detailed in my best eartips article, so you will have plenty to choose from. They also come with three different cables – a classic cable with microphone, a braided Espresso cable (oh so soft) and the SPC cable also used on the Monk Plus SPC and the Asura 2.0s. All in all this is a crazy offer for $40/$60. Alas I have no box to show – these were some of the earliest units and the packaging was not finalized yet.
The Zorloo ZuperDAC-S, on the other hand, is an interesting piece of technology – it is way smaller than the previous generation, all while packing updated internals and hardware volume control. It’s now so tiny that it’s half the size of the average USB thumbdrive. It comes in three colours (grey, silver and red) and features a micro-USB connection, meaning that it can be used with a cable and does not require a full-size USB port as the predecessor did. I think a USB Type-C connection would have made it more futureproof, but I don’t find it a deal-breaker flaw.
I have been using the ZuperDAC-S for a few days now and it is really convenient. Its diminutive size allows for it to be stored in a pocket or in a backpack without issues and it can be connected to any phone or other portable device to be used on the go. The ESS Sabre ES9018Q2C DAC inside should allow for good sound quality, thus making the ZuperDAC-S a good add-on to any system with integrated DACs and amplifiers such as PCs and smartphones.
The box comes with three different cables: on one end is the micro-USB connector, while on the other end there are a micro-USB (for smartphones and tablets), a USB Type-C and a full-size USB. The cables are pretty solid and even a bit stiff, with braided cloth on them.
Zorloo is going to launch an Indiegogo campaign next week, with “early bird” packages available for $45 instead of the full retail price of $79. That seems a fair price for such a device. Again, I will delve into deeper detail in the upcoming review. Feel free to ask any questions!