As a lifelong appreciator of the brand, the first things that come to mind when I think of Adidas are as follows: Mel C. high-kicking through the late nineties, Jonathan Davis (of Korn fame) in the Got The Life video, my first visit to the multi-level Soho Adidas store when I moved to New York, and – naturally – chic sneakers and activewear I lust over regularly. What I never considered, however, were their audio products.
I’ve tested quite a few types of headphones and earbuds, so I was excited to see what the Z.N.E. 01 True Wireless buds were all about. The packaging was minimal with little material wasted on fanfare, and setup was a breeze. While it helps that I’ve tested half a dozen headphone types in the past year or two, I believe the process would be simple for even the most technologically hindered: Plug the included wire into the charging case, place it on a charging block for a few hours until fully charged (it might even take less time, I was playing it safe), and voila, you're ready.
The charging case is small, with the signature Adidas logo that lends a touch of trendy branding in a way that seems cooler than the banal, influencer-driven omnipresence of AirPods – sorry, Apple, but I swear I own plenty of your products, too. When you’re ready to connect the buds to your phone, simply press the flush round button on the case until it lights up and find the coordinating Adidas line in your Bluetooth options. I found they connected quickly, and have continued to connect instantly the second I take them from the charging case and put them in my ears – other models have no indulged my impatience so kindly.
Shape-wise, I wasn’t sure about the actual earbud components at first. Most buds I’ve used have a soft silicone stopped that makes them fit tightly inside my ear, but the Z.N.E. 01s are smooth and lightweight. I tested their staying-in power by vigorously shaking my head, sort of like a dog right after its bath. They stayed perfectly put, and I pressed down on the right bud to see if it had come loose. This is when I discovered the easy trick of pausing your music by simply tapping the outer shell of the buds; they pause immediately, and another taps brings the music back on! I would have known this ahead of time if I’d chosen to read the manual, but I find charm in exploring a new product’s intuitiveness.
As for the sound? Color me impressed. No earbuds quite touch the quality of a solid over-ear headphone, but I appreciated the detail that came through so clearly with the Z.N.E. 01s. One stunning example: I put on Led Zeppelin's III, an album I've been listening to frequently for more than 20 years. During the quieter bits of "Since I've Been Loving You," a sort of squeak started to leak through the sultry wails of Robert Plant. I replayed it, listened in closely, and there it was again: I was hearing the tiny sound of John Bonham's cymbal stand components scratching against one another. I've been a drummer as long as I've been listening to the song, yet never, not even once, have I heard this bit of studio background noise. It felt invigorating to hear a new-to-me detail like this, and all thanks to some new workout earbuds!
My only warning on the sound is that these can be very loud, which tends to sneak up on me and become painful if I'm not careful. Luckily the learning curve on them is quick, so I found the sweet spot pretty quickly.
Another thing to note is these are not noise-canceling, which has pros and cons. While I enjoy blocking out the world for music and podcasts frequently, I often worry a stranger or uncontrolled car is going to crash into me while I'm humming the chorus to a favorite song. I also find it tedious to remove my earbuds when it's time to communicate with a store clerk, only to replace them once I'm juggling shopping bags after the transaction is done. These are easy to tap to pause, and it's easy to hear perfectly fine through them when the music is off but they're still in your ears. I also feel safer on walks since I can stay more vigilant to my surroundings, and I imagine anyone who walks, runs, or otherwise trains in a busy setting would agree.
As for charging, I made it through two weeks of regular listening on commutes, neighborhood strolls, and visits to the gym (approximately 60 to 150 minutes a day on average) before they needed recharging. This out-performs many similarly priced models I've used by many hours and lives up to Adidas' promise of five hours of listening with 20 hours of on-the-go charging inside the case.
Overall I would give these earbuds a solid 8.5 out of 10 stars. They're stylish and attractive, the fit is deceptively great even when you're sweating or walking in the rain, and the way they sound and hold a charge is a boon to anyone who leans on the crutch of music or podcasts to deal with the cacophony of the outside world. Snag a pair from the Adidas website below to enjoy quality listening during your next workout, and fall in love with the convenience of the Z.N.E. 01 True Wireless Earbuds.