Reebok Zig Kinetica review: Reebok’s best trainer
Also their best-looking training shoes
Remember the Reebok Zig Kinetica Concept Type_1 that we checked out back in December? In our review I said these were pretty good training sneakers but way too delicate to actually wear as anything other than show sneakers — it was gorgeous but it needed a more durable version.
Well, turns out that Concept was, as the name suggests, just a concept — and this is the actual new Reebok Zig Kinetica, and here’s what we think about it.
Brief ZigTech history
In case this is the first time you’re hearing about the Reebok ZIG line of shoes — the Zig Kinetica system started out way back in 2010 when Reebok released their first sneakers with the ZigTech design called the Reebok ZigPulse.
These sneakers came in a bunch of colorways. Reebok even started advertising them along with Lewis Hamilton to really show off how cool these new ZigTech sneakers were.
Reebok got a whole bunch of celebrities onboard with the ZigPulse so the sneakers had a bit of a buzz around it. However, as popular as they might have been at the time, we never really heard much about it since then.
Fast forward to today, almost a decade since the first Zig sneaker launched, the Zigtech makes a return in the form of a reworked Zig Kinetica system with the Reebok Zig Kinetica.
One look at these sneakers and you can see how they have a really aggressive vibe. Quite different from the avant garde vibe of the Concept Type_1.
Alright with that history lesson out of the way – let’s talk about design and fit.
One of the best-looking Reebok sneakers in a while
The 2020 Zig Kinetica is meant to be a daily activity shoe and you can tell that from its design.
The embedded design makes for a slightly chunkier shoe than what you’d normally see with a fitness sneaker. Whether that’s a good or bad thing boils down to your personal preference.
You can see we have the really loud red colorway — I’m not sure why everyone is sending me red sneakers nowadays — but please stop you guys haha.
The Zig Kinetica also comes in a way cooler Black colorway with an orange Zig unit which is the main colorway they’re marketing. But the all-white colorway with the slightly orange-ish Zig unit is my favorite.
Regardless of the colorway, you have to admit, this is one of the best looking Reebok shoes in years.
Starting with the upper, it’s made out of a breathable mesh, like you’d expect out of any pair of fitness shoes. At first glance, I wasn’t sure these were going to be good at ventilation because the material used in the construction of the upper is quite thick. Thankfully, Reebok did a pretty good job here! The mesh material keeps the air flow consistent, allowing cool air to come in as you move your feet while pushing the hot air out.
Towards the top is an interesting lacing system that moves though lacing eyelets on the upper and allow for a nicely snug fit. The eyelets have a nice amount of cushioning underneath, so that you don’t feel them pressing down on your feet even if you tightly lace up the shoe.
Moving towards the midsole and heel area, you’ll notice that there are a few strategic reinforcements made with the Zig unit extending up the sides of the shoe in the middle. It also has the Reebok logo situated here. This is interesting because it wasn’t on the Concept Type_1 sneakers so I wonder what’s the reason behind this.
Better than Boost?
Moving towards to the insole, the Floatride Fuel cushioning isn’t exactly the most lush in terms of comfort. These are performance training sneakers after all. The cushioning, along with the outsole and overall design is really meant to propel you forward instead towards workouts instead.
Just like the Adidas Ultraboost 20, the outsole is U-shaped, so the sneaker positions you to lean forwards.
Like I mentioned with cushioning earlier, the Zig Energy Shell (or the zig-zag portion of the outsole), together with the Floatride Fuel cushioning inside, is a lot sturdier than the Boost outsole on the Ultraboost, so it’s not as comfy.
The Floatride Fuel is soft though. You can actually feel it through the liner groove on the sole. Reebok is also using a special kind of sole here called the Zig Energy Band which is supposed to expand and contract like an elastic band to help with a springback response while you’re running.
The heel sits a couple of millimeters lower than the insole, which ends up supporting the medial arch of your feet, and adds to the comfort while you’re running.
At the back of the heel area, you’ll see that the outsole does ramp up and has “ZIG” subtly written on it. The insole also curves around your foot, instead of underneath or being flat, which adds to the comfort factor. If you were lucky enough to try the ZigTech sneakers back in the day, you’ll appreciate the familiarity of the outsole.
All in all, it is definitely the best designed Reebok sneaker I’ve seen in a while. But all that being said, these are meant to be training shoes so let’s move on to performance.
Decent responsiveness, good comfort
In terms of fit, once you slip your foot into the Zig Kinetica you’ll feel the plush all around cushioning immediately — which is a good thing. There’s no rough elements or hard patches that rub against your foot. It’s just a very comfortable plush sneaker, and the reinforcements in the design really seemed to have helped Reebok ensure a comfortable, yet very secure fit.
These fit pretty true to size, even with my wide feet, so you don’t feel cramped in the Zig Kinetica. A big reason for this comfort is the midsole and out-sole.
The midsole is made out of Reebok’s Floatride Fuel cushioning, with a Zig Energy Shell around it. Floatride Fuel cushioning is already present on a bunch of Reebok shoes and I’m a bgt fan of it. It has a great, plush amount of cushioning with a decent amount of responsiveness as well.
These feel more responsive than most other shoes with Floatride Fuel. That’s because of the stretchable Zig Energy Band outsole, coupled with the interesting design of the Zig Energy Shell.
The shell frames the midsole foam while the Zig Energy Band expands and contracts through each stride that you take, giving you a spring-like push forward with every step you take.
It’s a very different feeling from Adidas Ultraboost, or the Nike React foam in the new Nike React Infinity Run, but there is a decent amount of responsiveness with a good amount of comfort as well.
Is the Reebok Zig Kinetica your SneakerMatch?
So far we have a great design, a comfortable fit, and responsive cushioning — so what’s not to like?
See, that’s what confuses me about who the Reebok Zig Kinetica is meant for — it feels much heavier than most other training sneakers, weighing almost 300 grams.
There’s still a 10mm heel to toe drop which definitely helps when you’re wearing these at the gym, and the tough materials used definitely makes this a more durable training shoe.
I think maybe Reebok’s marketing with Connor McGregor might have been the main reason why I’m so confused about these shoes because these aren’t just UFC shoes.
After trying them out for a month the Reebok Zig Kinetica makes for a great every day gym sneaker. Just slip it on and you know it’ll handle anything you throw at it. Not necessarily outdoor long distance running though, because you might want a lighter shoe for that.
As an every day gym sneaker — I can definitely recommend picking these up. I’m not sure why no one’s talking about them, they look great, they are durable and comfortable, and Reebok has done a great job taking something from their past, from the ol’ ZigTech days and reinventing it for today.
One thing that I can definitely say is you’ll most probably be stopped and asked by strangers about what shoes you’re wearing – especially if you get that white-and-orange colorway because these look that unique and cool.
At the end of the day, these are actually my favourite Reebok Performance sneakers to date. Even more than the Sole Fury. Which is really saying a lot.
Reebok has been killing it lately and I really hope they improve their marketing on these, because the Zig Kinetica is a pretty solid training shoe.
Nothing Ear (2) now available in Singapore: Price, features
Truly authentic sound
London-based tech brand Nothing has launched the Ear (2) TWS earbuds in Singapore.
It is priced at SG$ 199 and will initially be available on Limited Edt from March 23. Free tryouts will be available at Challenger stores in Bugis Junction, Vivo City, and Causeway Point.
General sale will commence starting on April 8 at all Nothing partner stores in Singapore, both online and offline, including Lazada and Shopee.
Truly authentic sound
The Hi-Res Audio-certified earbuds feature an 11.6mm custom driver for deep bass and crystal-clear highs. Its LHDC 5.0 codec technology ensures the finest sound details are transmitted at frequencies up to 24 bit/192 kHz.
The Ear (2) is also engineered with Nothing’s best noise cancellation technology yet, achieving up to 40dB of reduction.
With personalized Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) and Adaptive Mode, users may also adjust the noise reduction level based on their environments.
The device also has an improved wind-proof and crowd-proof Clear Voice Technology. This complements the three high-definition microphones on each earbud which have an advanced AI noise reduction algorithm that filters out unnecessary noises when answering calls.
Personalize the experience
Additionally, using the Nothing X app, users may also personalize their listening experience by adjusting the equalizer settings in real-time for optimal sound quality.
Dual Connection, on the other hand, allows for easier device switching between listening to music or receiving calls, for instance. The device likewise supports Google Fast Pair and Microsoft Swift Pair.
The Ear (2) has buttons on each earbud, allowing for easy controls like adjusting volume, skipping to the next track, or switching between noise cancellation modes.
Nothing’s latest offering delivers up to 36 hours of playback on a fully-charged case – with ANC turned off. Using fast charge, it can replenish up to eight hours on a 10-minute charge.
For peace of mind, the earbuds are rated IP54 for water resistance while its transparent case is rated IP55.
Sony announces WH-CH720N, WH-CH520 wireless headphones
Available in four colors
Sony has made two new wireless headphones available in the Philippines: the over-ear WH-CH720N and the on-ear WH-CH520.
The WH-CH720N is priced at PhP 7,999 and comes with Dual Noise Sensor technology, as well as Sony’s integrated processor V1 chip for noise cancelling. The lightweight device provides up to 35 hours of battery life on a full charge.
When connected to the Sony | Headphones Connect app, users may also adjust ambient sound 20 different levels to suit the environment.
On the other hand, the WH-CH520 is a more affordable option, retailing at just PhP 3,299. It’s available in four colorways – black, blue, white, and beige – to match one’s style.
Both models feature Digital Sound Enhancement Engine (DSEE) for high-quality sound as accurate as how the artist intended for songs, and Multipoint connection for easy connectivity between devices.
The two headphones also offer better call quality with their beamforming microphones which support Precise Voice Pickup technology and Wind Noise Reduction Structure.
Sony Walkman NW-ZX707 review: Return of the classic
For intermediates and experts
44 years ago, cars were still boxy, the Apple II was just two years into introducing personal computers inside homes, and the word ‘phone’ meant the landline phone inside your house. It was 1979, personal technology wasn’t a thing yet. Until Sony introduced the very first model of the Walkman, the TPS-L2.
More widely recognized in the mainstream now as “Star-Lord’s ancient iPod”, it revolutionized the music industry back then by putting a cassette player in everyone’s pocket, allowing anyone (well, anyone who had the equivalent of US$ 600 at the time) to listen to music anywhere, anytime they wanted.
Fast forward to 2023, we see Sony has updated the Walkman line to fit in with modern standards. The Sony Walkman NW-ZX707 no longer uses an analog Cassette. It’s now a high-fidelity digital music player.
Gone are its plastic and metal body held together by screws, it’s now a glass and metal sandwich like modern smartphones. It has physically changed to the point of being unrecognizable, but the important thing has stayed the same– It’s probably still the most fun music player you can get with your money.
It’s not a phone, it just looks like one
Like its great granddaddy the Walkman TPS-L2, the Walkman NW-ZX707 is built to last. It continues the time-honored traditions of the Walkman line– namely its metal build, external music control buttons on one side, and the audio jack at the top.
But everything else about the build feels like a mix of old smartphone design cues, just updated to 2023. Upon first look, the NW-ZX707 looks like a weirdly small, thick, and heavy smartphone with sharp edges and two headphone jacks in an age where even midrange phones are ditching it.
It’s got a 5-inch 9:16 LCD display with huge bezels straight out of 2017. It’s even got a soft-touch vegan leather back that we haven’t seen in smartphones for years. With that said, ergonomic considerations kind of start and stop with the external music control buttons.
The overall design is boxy, the edges are sharp, the corners are angular, and the screen is flat as they come. Coming in at 157g, it lets you know that it’s in your pocket.
Could’ve used 5G?
In more ways than one, it only looks like a smartphone, but under its metal exterior, the differences are much more obvious. So while it is running near-stock Android 12, you can’t actually use it as a phone, because it doesn’t have a SIM tray (Which I find kind of weird? Like, I think that with high-fidelity music streaming apps available, that would work well with a 5G SIM for on-the-go hi-fi).
While it boasts some of the best audio chips available on any music player today, it doesn’t have a speaker. And while you can expand its 64GB storage with a microSD card, it’s almost exclusively for your music files, because the screen is too small for media viewing and too slow for even light gaming. And there are no cameras on the device.
But it sometimes tries to function like one
The software on the Sony Walkman NW-ZX707 is where things start to get dicey for me. While I appreciate that it’s built on top of Android 12, a very secure, stable, and customizable platform, I feel like Sony could’ve customized the software a bit more to streamline the experience.
Take for example the experience immediately after setup. Since the ZX707 is linked as an android device to your Gmail account, and there is no special designation in the Android system that it’s a dedicated music player, it’s inevitably going to receive email and other non-music related notifications.
It can be fine for power users, but I don’t think receiving the same notifications as your phone in the middle of music listening is conducive to the hi-fi Walkman experience. Take it from me, spend that extra 15 minutes of deep-diving into your settings to either log out of your Gmail account or turn off notifications for any non-music-related apps and services.
The tide hasn’t come in yet
Speaking of apps and services, a big miss for the ZX707 here in the Philippines is the lack of support for hi-fi streaming apps like Tidal and Qobuz. They’re just straight-up not available in the country. So, if you’re planning on getting the new Walkman, your best bet in filling it up is either manually ripping your CDs or Purchasing hi-fi master tracks in either FLAC, PCM, or DSD.
The digital does its best to be analog
Pre-installed software is limited mostly to the Sony Walkman music player app and its customization software, which is generally fine since it leaves so much space for all your high-resolution music on the internal 64GB storage. And for the entirety of the Walkman NW-ZX707 experience, this is where you’re going to get the most value out.
The music player is pretty standard fare, save for the fact that it has support for extremely high-resolution audio formats like FLAC, PCM, and DSD– it even has a separate section dedicated to all your high-res files. There is no visualization option, but you do get a little Cassette animation when the device is idling– a nice touch. And if you’re looking to have better synergy between your Sony headphones / IEMs, there’s the Sony Headphones Connect app where you can choose your headphone model from a list, and the app will automatically change its sound signature via profiles to give you the best listening experience.
But in the great chance that you’re not using Sony headphones to plug into the ZX707, you’ve got a great range of sound customization via the Sound Adjustment app. And let me tell you, this customization app is the bee’s knees. It’s got properly staged equalizer settings, giving you control from sub-bass 31Hz frequencies, all the way up to cymbal-rattling 16KHz highs in 0.5db increments. It’s a great EQ fine-tuning utility, and super responsive.
There is also a whole slew of sound improvement utilities built-in with the sound adjustment app. There’s the DSEE Ultimate toggle– It’s a new feature from Sony that apparently increases the dynamic range of sub-hi-fi tracks like MP3 and CD formats using AI technology.
I found it somewhat effective, but not to the MP3 files on the device– it worked better when it was post-up-sampling non-hi-fi streaming apps like Youtube Music and Deezer.
There is also a DSD Remastering feature, which converts all PCM signals to DSD. In theory this should increase the signal resolution of sub-hi-fi recordings like MP3, low-quality FLAC rips, and of course, low-bitrate PCM files, but it should be of little value for audiophiles looking to load up the ZX707 with higher-quality 24-bit 117.6KHz PCM files. Do note that PCM and DSD are both quantized signals, so while they’re some of the most high-resolution signal formats a music player can put out, they are still (losslessly) compressed to some degree.
Lastly, the ZX707 also features sound emulation/simulation features if you ever want to introduce some analog qualities to your hyper-clean modern digital recordings. There is a DC Phase Linearizer which somewhat emulates the natural warmth of an analog amplifier, and a vinyl processor, which simulates the sound signature of hearing your songs through a vinyl record player.
I feel that this is something you might want to turn on based on the kind of files that you’re listening to. There are certain genres that benefit greatly from the warmth and texture of Vinyl simulation like classic rock and electronica. Also, remember to turn this off if your music conversions are from Vinyl like my library. It doubles the Vinyl noise and kind of overdoes the warmth of the track.
Good thing that with all of these settings, there is a toggle for direct output so you can A-B your sound settings really fast anytime.
With a little help from my (Hi-Fi) friends
But enough about all of the intricacies that happen outside of the play button. I called the Sony Walkman NW-ZX707 earlier in this article “probably still the most fun music player you can get with your money.”, so that begs the question– how does it sound?
Well, let me get this out of the way for all you audiophiles first: it’s not a ‘flat’ music player. It’s not a reference device, nor does it advertise itself to be one. It’s high-resolution, sure– but it’s not neutral. And that, to me, just sounds like a good time on paper.
In my two weeks with the NW-ZX707 I was able to try it out with three of my most used audio gear:
- For the budget on-the-go side, the KZ x CRN ZEX Pros
- For hi-fi home listening, a modded pair of Beyerdynamic DT770 Pros
- On the weird-but-fun side, the Sony MDR-XB700 Extra Bass.
And with that lineup, one might assume that the ZX707 would be picky with showing its audio brilliance– not really. It sounded great on everything.
KZ x CRN ZEX Pros
Pairing the ZX707 with the somewhat-neutral KZ x CRN ZEX Pros brought out a good tandem. The ZX707’s sound signature at stock is somewhat warm with a moderate emphasis on midbass and lower mids. The ZEX Pros are somewhat known to have a fair bit of sibilance, but I’m glad to report that because of the Sony Walkman ZX707’s laid-back presentation, there wasn’t much harshness in the highs. Detail suffered a bit, especially on busier tracks, but that was more of the limitation of the ZEX Pro’s limited drivers than through any other factor. The stand-out track for this setup was Silversun Pickups’ “Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings)”.
Beyerdynamic DT770 Pros
The duo of the ZX707 and Beyerdynamic DT770 Pros was probably my most used setup during my review period. They just complement each other very nicely. And since I’ve modded the DT770 Pros to have a 4.4mm Balanced input, I was able to leverage the higher power output capabilities of the Walkman– I paid for the whole 250 Ohms, I’m going to use the whole 250 Ohms.
The DT770 Pros are known for their surgically neutral and flat response with a slight prominence in the low-bass. It’s that kind of sound signature that I found pairs the best with the ZX707, as it will ‘convert’ the headphones from ‘mixing ready’ to ‘party ready’. It’s like having a smoothening filter applied to all frequencies, but it doesn’t reduce any of the texture and detail. For that pairing, I turned on the DSEE, the DC Phase Linearizer, and the Vinyl Processor.
It was able to inject a lot of warmth and texture to my songs– coupled with the very forward vocal presentation of both the ZX707 and the DT770 Pros, vocal-centric music like ballads, soft rock, and even ‘00s rap sounded amazing. There are a few times when the bass would sometimes start getting bloated, but it wasn’t something a few adjustments to the EQ couldn’t handle. The stand-out track for this setup was Barenaked Ladies’ “New Disaster”.
Sony MDR-XB700 Extra Bass
Lastly, we’ve got the crazy pair of Sony MDR-XB700s. The midrange of Sony’s classic Extra Bass line, it’s a deceptive pair of headphones– regular music players can make it sound okay, but only the best music players and amplifiers that have exceptional bass and sub-bass processing can make it sound the way it should. And for the ZX707, it was no problem at all.
Having a big hump of sub-bass all the way up to midbass in the EQ was the only way I can listen to the XB700s. Even at almost maximum volume, there was almost no distortion and no significant dynamics compression. It just powers through the songs cleanly and never lets any of the frequencies stray too far from their comfortable thresholds.
Presentation is always smooth and warm, with a big emphasis on vocal presence, and highs are much more relaxed but with a lot of texture. The highs don’t go too far up so listeners of borderline-sibilant textured tracks might have to EQ their highs in, or you might want to look at other ways to improve the high-frequency response on the ZX707. The stand-out track for this setup was Dutch Uncles’ “Flexxin”.
To round off my playback performance findings on the Sony Walkman NW-ZX707, it was able to sustain two (2) days of almost constant playback before needing a charge. I attribute this to fine volume and power control. The granularity in the volume adjustment is incredibly accurate and is always a requirement for any hi-fi music player.
Is the Sony Walkman NW-ZX707 your GadgetMatch?
There’s an air of being carefree with the ZX707– it knows it’s not a reference device, nor does it try to be. It plays on its strengths of being a solid, high-power, high-resolution music player that you can take anywhere and plug anything into, and it’ll just slowly fade into the background. Present enough that you’re going to enjoy your music, but never stepping in to interrupt you from dancing to ‘Come Get Your Love’ on a distant alien planet.
Coming in at around PhP 45,000 or US$ 600, the Sony Walkman NW-ZX707 not only invokes memories of the original but also the (frankly) prohibitive price as well. Let me make this clear– this is not an entry-level audiophile PMP, it’s somewhat reserved for intermediates and experts who can leverage its non-neutral presentation to improve their on-the-go listening setups.
But as far as audiophile PMPs go, this is certainly one of the most fun ones I’ve tried so far. Check your gear first– it synergizes well with forward-sounding headphones/earphones with great highs presentation. If you’ve got one, I suggest going for the ZX707. If not, you might have to look somewhere else for your on-the-go hi-fi fix.
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