Colors: Light grey and night grey
Battery life (rated): 4.5 hours hours (ANC on); 6 hours (ANC off), 20 hours (charging case)
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2
Processor: Not stated
Size: 1.9 x 2.3 x 1.1 inches
Weight: Not specified
Water resistant (rating): Yes (IPX5)
The Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC is the sportwear giant’s latest true wireless release. These buds have plenty going for them, including active noise cancellation and audio anchored by Zound Industries (the same company developing Marshall headphones). Add a ruggedly charming design and some serviceable features into the mix, and all signs point to a new entry on our best sport headphones list. Right? Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.
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Although the Z.N.E. 01 ANC delivers energetic sound to keep your blood pumping during intense workouts, drawbacks like finicky controls and poor battery life cannot be overlooked. The MSRP may also be questionable for some consumers when considering the stiff competition out there.
Keep reading our full Adidas Z.N.E 01 ANC review to see whether it’s still worth the investment.
Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC review: Price and availability
The Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC goes for $189 on the Adidas website, but it is currently on sale for $155 on Amazon. Color options are limited to two: light grey and night grey. Inside the box are a charging case, USB-C charging cable, three sets of ear tips, user guide, and warranty.
While listed lower than premium workout rivals like the Beats Fit Pro ($199), it is also more expensive than well-reviewed models like the Amazfit PowerBuds Pro ($149) and JLab Epic Air Sport ANC ($99). All these share similar traits such as ANC, personalized sound, and companion app support.
For all of the latest wireless earbuds sales, bookmark our best headphones deals page.
Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC review: Design and comfort
I’m feeling the Z.N.E. 01 ANC’s sporty aesthetic since it complements the style and function of Adidas running sneakers. Hard plastic and silicone form a durable shell that’s built to take beatings, plus sweatproof and water-resistant rating (IPX5) protects the buds from moisture damage. This is better protection than any Apple or Beats models.
The charging case is also created from the same materials, keeping the exterior scuff-free for the most part. Small details like the ridges on each side and soft-touch rubberized logo are nice touches. Compared to the AirPods Pro case, this one is bigger and bulkier, but not by much, and it secures the buds better, thanks to stronger magnets.
This model would have benefitted more from an ear hook or oval-shaped design; each is known for providing a stabler fit. Adidas’ tips create a decent seal around the canal that keeps the buds steady on your ears when exercising, but a little wetness causes some slippage.
Comfort-wise, the Z.N.E. 01 ANC is a pleasant wear for about 2 hours straight before fatigue sets in. Depending on your pain threshold, you may feel some soreness around the concha if used multiple times throughout the day, but this shouldn’t be a problem for shorter sessions.
Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC review: Controls and digital assistant
The controls are both intuitive and practical. Playback and call management are assigned to single (play/pause/answer call/end call), double (skip track), and triple (previous track) taps. A custom action command (long touch and hold) enables select features, including digital assistance, noise control, Spotify access, and Adidas Running app activation. Oddly, Adidas made this the only customizable control on the buds.
On-ear detection is here for auto-pause/play, plus Siri, Google Assistant, and Bixby are all available for use, depending on your device.
The three digital assistants respond to commands with accuracy, but the same can’t be said about the touch panels, which often misinterpret multi-tap gestures.
Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC review: Sound quality
Zound Industries sprinkled their sonic touch on the Z.N.E. 01 ANC. Lows are emphasized and hold up well on contemporary tracks, and mids and highs sound surprisingly good. There’s enough here to satisfy your music appetite during commutes and workouts.
Green Day’s “Basket Case” got me warmed up before hitting the road, fueling my tank with crashing cymbals and upbeat snare strikes that didn’t come on too aggressively. Some bass junkies may find the low end subdued, but I thought it was fairly balanced to keep production consonant. Ramping up my adrenaline one mile into a run was the pulsating bassline on Busta Rhymes’ “Turn It Up/Fire It Up (Remix).” It packed the right amount of oomph without compromising the track’s other standout elements like the classic Knight Rider synth samples.
An equalizer is built into the companion app to customize sound. There are six presets to choose from: Adidas (the default), Rock, Pop, Electronic, Hip-Hop, and Vocal Boost. Unlike rival EQs, the Adidas version doesn’t let you manually tweak frequencies and create your own sound profile. This isn’t a dealbreaker, especially since the presets do a solid job with their targeted music genres. Hip-Hop gives bass some extra punch and Vocal Boost is a no-brainer for ballads and podcasts.
Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC review: Active noise cancellation
From the looks and sound of it, these buds carry the same noise-cancelling technology as Marshall’s Motif A.N.C. wireless earbuds. There are 10 levels of ANC that can be adjusted in the app to control the amount of noise you want neutralized. The feature is effective for distraction-free listening during workouts, but only at Max level.
Low and mid frequencies were handled with finesse. Noises like household appliances (e.g., blenders, vacuums) and washing machine rumble didn’t break my concentration when using the buds around the house. High-pitched conversations sounded muffled, along with my infant son’s cries during nap time, but any tantrums he threw outside of the nursery were perceptible.
Other high frequencies crept onto the soundstage as well. Thankfully, sounds like bird chirping and whistles weren’t disruptive and blended into the background of most tracks. That doesn’t mean the occasional ambulance siren won’t catch your full attention.
Awareness is Adidas’ version of transparency mode, and it is a viable solution for joggers that want to keep their ears open to what’s happening around them. You can adjust the feature to decrease or increase the amount of noise you want to hear. Being able to keep tabs of oncoming traffic during runs felt great, but it was the alertness these buds provided during afternoon strolls with the baby that put my mind at ease. My only complaint is that voices didn’t come in clearly, and that made it difficult to communicate with people on the go.
Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC review: App and special features
Downloading the Adidas Headphones app will grant you extended functionality. There are several features to toy with, some of which were previously discussed such as adjustable ANC/Awareness, equalizer, and control customization. What else is there? Very little.
Battery indicators for each bud, toggle controls, a music player, firmware updates, and interconnectivity with the Adidas Running app round out the app. The latter is the most appealing, acting as a shortcut to the Running app that will start/stop runs when enabling the custom action control. Don’t expect meticulous results because all fitness activity is tracked through your smartphone.
There is also an “eco charging” setting that caps battery life at 80% when charging to extend the buds overall lifespan.
Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC review: Battery life and charging case
Battery life is the Z.N.E. 01 ANC’s Achilles heel. A full charge only generates 4.5 hours of ANC playtime. We’re talking AirPods Pro numbers here. Disabling the feature extends it to 6 hours. High volume and other special features drop playtime by about 30 to 45 minutes.
You’ll need to always keep the charging case on hand, and make sure it’s fully charged. I stress that because the Z.N.E. 01 ANC’s case holds a measly 20 hours. Anything lower than the AirPods Pro case (24 hours) is considered abysmal. Furthermore, quick charging isn’t as powerful as other rivals: 15 minutes nets you 1 hour of playback. Wireless charging doesn’t come part of the deal either.
Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC review: Call quality and connectivity
Adidas isn’t known for their call quality, so to see the Z.N.E. 01 ANC not make our best headphones with a mic for voice and video calls list isn’t shocking. The mics are sensitive to ambient noise and movement, creating lots of muffling, as per my wife’s feedback during indoor and outdoor chats. Staying in place provided clearer results. Video calls were better with several clients stating how loud and crisp my voice sounded, though they could hear my baby crying in the background.
The Z.N.E. 01 ANC comes equipped with Bluetooth 5.2 for lengthy range (45 feet) and instantaneous pairing with compatible devices. Dropout rarely occurred when streaming music and walking around the house.
Google Fast Pair would have been appreciated for one-touch pairing with Android phones. The same applies to multipoint technology for pairing the buds to two devices simultaneously.
Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC review: Verdict
All things considered, the Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC is a respectable noise-canceller that serves well for fitness buffs that want strong audio and ANC in a sturdy package. Having the ability to personalize either through the Adidas Headphones app is huge, and not something you’ll find on many sporty models.
If only Adidas focused that much attention on other key areas. There’s no excuse for why these buds come with the same ANC playtime as the AirPods Pro and mediocre quick charging. The lack of modern novelties like wireless charging is forgivable, but some won’t feel the same way about the finicky touch controls.
The $189 asking price also feels like a reach for Adidas, especially since the field is loaded with heavy hitters that offer more functionality for less. Adidas enthusiasts will get some satisfaction out of the Z.N.E. 01 ANC, but others may want to wait for a big price drop — or consider Jabra's Elite 7 Active as their next workout companion.
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