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Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC review: Sports buds lack staying power

The robust styling and lively sound of the Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC will appeal to active lifestyle fans, but battery life needs more stamina

The Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC resting on a tree
(Image: © Regan Coule/Future)

Tom's Guide Verdict

The Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC is an admirable attempt at sporty wireless ANC earbuds, but the low playtimes make it a tough sell.

Pros

  • +

    Dynamic sound

  • +

    Adjustable noise cancellation

  • +

    Reliable connectivity

  • +

    Sleek app with useful features

Cons

  • -

    Poor battery life

  • -

    Spotty touch controls

  • -

    No multipoint technology or wireless charging

Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC specs

Price: $119

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.

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 (opens in new tab) website, but it is currently on sale for $155 on Amazon (opens in new tab). 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 Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC wireless earbuds

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

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.

The Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC charging case held in hand

Comparison between the Jabra Elite 4 Active charging case (left) and Jabra Elite 7 Active charging case (right) (Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

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.

Our reviewer wearing the Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC wireless earbuds

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

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.

The touch controls being tested on the Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

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.

Busta Rhymes ' "Turn It Up/Fire It Up (Remix" playing on the Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

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.

The Equalizer being tested on the Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

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.

Noise cancellation being tested on the Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

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.

Adjustable ANC and Awareness modes shown on the Adidas Headphones app

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

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.

The Adidas Headphones app

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

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.

The Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC charging case being charged

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

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.

A video call being taken on the Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

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.

A lifestyle journalist with an affinity for consumer products, Alex has over a decade of experience and has worked with popular publications such as Complex, Thrillist, Men’s Health, Gear Patrol, AskMen, and Hoop Magazine. He currently focuses on audio, reviewing the most coveted headphones in the market for both Tom’s Guide and Laptop Magazine.