It’s not uncommon for a new brand to emerge every so often in the ChiFi space, which is as competitive as it is affordable. Of course, the real winners of the tough competition are the consumers, making it possible to get incredible sound quality at a modest price, such as the ZiiGaat Nuo.
As new as the brand may seem, ZiiGaat says that it is actually made up of a team of veterans in developing OEM and ODM products for several global audio brands. Now forming its own brand, the team is free to experiment and create its own products that better align with the interests of the audio community.
The name ZiiGaat is actually an acronym derived from the brand’s core values: zero-in on ideas, innovate, grow, and achieve all together. ChiFi brands and their…creative acronyms never cease to amaze, and this extends even to the Nuo, as I’ll explain in this review.
What It Is
ZiiGaat made its debut with two products: the Nuo I am reviewing here, and the Cinno. The former is a single dynamic driver IEM, while the latter is a 1DD+4BA hybrid. More recently, the brand announced two more upcoming products: the Cinocotres and Doscinco, both of which are 2DD+3BA hybrids. The peculiar names aside, four products – and most of them being hybrids at that – right out the gate is certainly ambitious.
Anyway, this ZiiGaat Nuo review unit was sent over by Linsoul, which is listing the IEM for $24 (about RM110) on its online store. Speaking of being ambitious, this price tag pits the Nuo against popular options like the Moondrop Chu 2, Truthear Hola, Tangzu Wan’er, and the new 7Hz x Crinacle Zero:2 that I recently reviewed.
The Nuo utilizes a 10mm liquid crystal polymer (LCP) diaphragm, a single dynamic driver type that’s quite the popular option among IEMs of this price point, though ZiiGaat says that the Nuo’s driver is its in-house design. The faceplates of the Nuo is made of metal and is smooth to the touch, and it has the ZiiGaat branding along with “ZiiPluse Series Nuo” printed on the left faceplate. Chances are, the Nuo is a part of a product lineup that has not been fully revealed yet.
Design wise, the Nuo’s shell is composed of a dark, smoky black plastic with 2-pin termination. The stock cable is quite a simple black one, but it feels nice and is quite resistant to tangling. Aside from the cable, the IEM itself, and three pairs of ear tips of varying sizes, there’s nothing else in the box.
I’m happy to report that for myself, the Nuo’s rather rounded shell sits comfortably in my ears, even during longer listening sessions. There are no sharp edges here poking at my ear like what I experienced with the 7Hz Zero:2, much to my relief (literally).
How Does It Sound?
Curiously, the ZiiGaat takes a slight departure from the typical Harman sound profile with the Nuo, which is usually the “default” tuning for most ChiFi IEM at this price point. It has a slight V-shape sound signature with an emphasis in treble and a solid amount of bass.
The low-end of the Nuo is more focused on the mid-bass rather than sub-bass, but the latter is still deep enough to provide a noticeable rumble. Mid-bass is meaty and impactful, adding a tinge of warmth that balances out the more forward treble presentation.
The warmth provided by the Nuo’s bass adds a touch of body to male vocals, making for a slightly thicker note weight, though I find that it could still be thicker. The forward upper-mids really highlight female vocals with ample amounts of air and sparkle, but it can sound a bit thin. The brightness and thinner body in this region also makes vocals sound less organic.
On top of that, the Nuo’s upper-mids to lower treble region also tend to get a bit hot and borderline sibilant to my ears, especially at higher volumes.
This part of the frequency range is the highlight of the Nuo, in my opinion. While the treble presence is upfront and in your face, you can tell that it’s restraining itself from crossing the border and becoming too harsh. Still, some of that overwhelming treble energy slips through the cracks, and you get a bit of sibilance around the 10kHz region.
That being said, with some EQ adjustments and tip-rolling to tame the peaks, I find that the Nuo remains lively and crisp. As a treble-sensitive individual who prefers to veer from darker-sounding options myself, I still find the Nuo to be a very fun and enjoyable listen. It’s a good break from the monotony of warm and dark sounds that I am accustomed to.
The Nuo boasts above average width within the soundstage with moderate height and depth. Layering and separation are also surprisingly adequate, and it is easy enough to pinpoint the direction of instruments within the stage.
Is It Worth It?
For an IEM that is priced at only $24, the ZiiGaat Nuo offers excellent value for money, especially if you’re a fan of brighter tunings. If you want a similarly tuned IEM, there’s the slightly costlier SIMGOT EW200, though I personally prefer the Nuo’s for comfortable fit. Then again, fit is very subjective from one person to another.
I’m actually surprised by how much I like the Nuo. As a fan of a more warmer presentation, I should like the similarly-priced 7Hz Zero:2 more, but the fit and comfort of that IEM is unfortunately not for me. With that in mind, the Nuo would be the one I would reach for first as beaters to bring on the go.
The Nuo is a testament to how promising ZiiGaat is as a young brand. After trying out this affordable IEM from the brand, I’m definitely excited take a look at the some of ZiiGaat’s more premium offerings like the Cinocotres and the Doscinco in the near future.
Li Jin Soh contributed to this review.