Vanatoo Transparent Zero Setup & Configuration
If you’ve read the first review of the Vanatoo Transparent Zero, then you know that we here at Rate Your Sound, and your humble reviewer in particular, really liked these little technological marvels. In fact, I liked them so much that I bought a pair for myself… to be part of my personal system… which is about the highest compliment I can offer a product.
The main thing that’s great about the Vanatoo Transparent Zeros is that they work really well in whole bunch of different situations. They work great as computer speakers, they’re powerful enough to provide well-balanced sound in a normal sized room, yet small enough to be inconspicuous, and, if you add a subwoofer, they’re actually serious competition for much larger and more expensive speakers, and can really rock out in a full sized room.
They also have a bunch of cool features, some of which you won’t notice until you live with them for a while. And, just to be perfectly clear, the sound of the Transparent Zeros is clean and neutral, and offers a really clear window into how your music is supposed to sound.
Since I’ve added these to my system permanently, I’ll have an opportunity to fill you in on all the details about what I’m using them for, how they fit into my system, and how well they’ve worked out for me. Let’s start at the beginning…
The Vanatoo Transparent Zeros are sold as a pair, and they come in a single box, which contains the speakers, and a whole bunch of convenient accessories. Mine came double boxed - the fancy box with the nice handle and the Vanatoo logo came inside a corrugated brown box. Inside the box I found a set of heavy duty foam blocks, with cutouts for the speakers, and all the accessories.
Each speaker was individually wrapped in one of those thin foam bags, so both arrived in perfect condition. Everything else was either bagged or wrapped, so it was all easy to find, and nothing had bounced around too much in shipping.
The Transparent Zeros came with a nice assortment of extras:
- A neat little pair of magnetically attached grills. These have nice powerful magnets, so they stay in place without shifting around or falling off, and they’re transparent enough to let all the sound through, but dark enough to hide the speakers’ guts. Each grill also has a discreet stylish Vanatoo logo on it.
- The Transparent Zeros come with a handy little infrared remote control. It’s smaller than a cable remote, but big enough to have full-sized buttons for selecting the input and adjusting the sound, and has an interesting rubbery finish which makes it feel sexy, and keeps it from sliding around on the table.
- A special RJ50 multi-wire cable is required to connect the left and right speakers together, and Vanatoo provides a nice long heavy duty wire for this purpose – the one they provided was about ten feet long.
- Vanatoo included a standard power cable for the Transparent Zeros, and the big AC power pack you’ll need to run them. They also provided a nice assortment of other audio cables: a 3.5mm to 3.5mm analog cable, a 3.5mm to RCA analog cable, and a USB A-B digital audio cable. The Transparent Zeros vibrate a bit when you crank them way up, so Vanatoo thoughtfully provided a pair of soft rubber isolation pads for underneath them. The pads keep the Transparent Zeros from making your desk vibrate, and keep them from moving around.
- Mine came with the stands preinstalled to position the speakers with the passive radiator on the bottom, and Vanatoo included the little Allen wrench you might need to flip the stands around.
Overall, they really did include everything in the box that you need to set these up for a variety of different applications. I have to stress that Vanatoo did a good job with the little touches that make for a great user experience.
While none of those extra cables costs much, and you probably have some of them lying around anyway, Vanatoo made sure you won’t unpack your new speakers, only to find out that you forgot the wire you need to connect them.
Vanatoo Transparent Zero Quick Setup
Mounting And Positioning The Speakers
The Vanatoo Transparent Zeros have a really crazy number of different ways you can mount them or stand them. The speaker itself basically has a mid/woofer and tweeter on the front, a passive radiator on one end (the top of bottom), and the control panel and wiring on the back. You can set them up:
- With the solid end down; and the passive radiator on the top. When they’re facing this way, the tweeter is toward the bottom on the front.
- If you leave the stand off, or put it towards the top to act as a sort of handle and protection for the passive radiator, the speaker is angled up about thirty degrees. This works very well if they’re positioned on a desk or table slightly below ear level.
- If you put the stand on the bottom, with the speaker facing this way, the drivers face directly towards you, which works better if they’re at somewhere near ear level.
- Alternately, you can set them with the passive radiator on the bottom. When they’re facing this way, you have to use the stand on the bottom. Oriented this way, the tweeter is towards the top, and the entire speaker faces straight forward. This works really well at or above ear level, and you get a bit more bass with the passive radiator facing towards the table top or shelf this way.
- Nobody really talks about it, but you can also arrange the Transparent Zeros on their sides, with the passive radiator to one side, which might work out well if you’re putting them on a narrow shelf. (The direction you face the passive radiator does change the width of the sound stage, so that’s one more way you can customize the sound.
- The Transparent Zeros also include a set of tripod mounting threads – you access them by removing a little rubber cork on the solid end – away from the passive radiator. You can use these to mount the Transparent Zeros on floor standing or table top tripods. You can also use them to attach the speaker to one of many readily available wall mounting brackets. (The speaker can hang below the bracket or sit on top of it; which gives you lots of options for positioning them up high.)
Operating The Speakers
The Transparent Zeros themselves can be used with a Bluetooth connection, a wired analog connection, or a wired digital input. Even better, they’re smart enough that, if you have multiple sources, they’ll automatically switch to the source that’s playing.
Vanatoo also has a system worked out where, if multiple sources are playing, the speaker will switch to the input with the highest priority, then switch back again – but only after a suitable time delay. So, for example, if you’ve got your Transparent Zeros connected to your computer via UBS, and you turn on the analog source you have connected, the speaker will switch to the analog input. Then, if you turn off the analog source, they’ll switch back to the computer.
However, first they’ll wait a few seconds, to avoid switching back and forth during the quiet spots between songs.
Of course, you can also use the remote control to manually select whatever input source you want, and you can configure the Transparent Zeros to remember that source when you turn them off, or to return to the default input. Together this gives you a lot of ways to configure them to act just the way you want them to.
I should also note that, along with the Bass and Treble settings, the Transparent Zeros have a setting called Shelved DSP or Flat DSP. This setting controls the low frequency response so you can optimize it for sitting on a table or placement on a stand (it’s what some folks might call room surface compensation – and it’s worth experimenting with.)
The Transparent Zeros also have some handy settings that are often omitted on many of their competitors, like the ability to operate as a stereo pair, or in mono, and to swap the left and right speakers. There are lots of other nice little touches like these that make the Transparent Zeros convenient to use, like the fact that, along with the remote control, they have an actual Volume knob on the active speaker, and you can even dim that bright blue LED – or not - to suit your taste.
The Top Secret Hidden Settings
The Transparent Zeros have a whole selection of special settings that can only be accessed by a rather intricate set of magic gestures. Accessing them involves setting a switch, and the Volume Knob, to certain positions, then unplugging and reconnecting the speaker while holding down the Pairing button.
This may sound either really cool, or a little goofy, depending on whether you’re fan of James Bond or Spy Kids. However, in actual use, it works out quite swell. These are all settings that you aren’t going to use very often; the settings are remembered, even when the Transparent Zeros are turned off, and the process itself is actually not at all quirky. (When you set things as instructed, the settings change just like they should, and the LED flashes to let you know that it worked…. No holding the button and hoping your changes registered like you see with many other products).
Vanatoo T0 Unboxing and Demo
The Subwoofer Output
(Or Yes, These ARE Real Speakers…) Quite a few small Bluetooth or computer speakers simply don’t support a subwoofer at all. Others offer an optional subwoofer, but you have to use the one that goes with the system, which limits your options. Vanatoo has chosen to equip the Transparent Zeros with a simple subwoofer output you can use with any third part subwoofer you like.
The Transparent Zero can tell when you plug in a sub, and switches on the appropriate crossover to go with it. This crossover acts slightly differently depending on whether you have them set to Shelving DSP or Flat DSP – I preferred the sound with Flat DSP with the little sub I used.
As you might have guessed from the title of this section, when you add a real subwoofer, the little Vanatoo Transparent Zeros really hold their own with much larger, and much more expensive, speakers. They sound – well – like real speakers. The sound is smooth, really well balanced, and manages to fill a mid-sized room quite well. Most important, at least to me, is that voices sound perfectly natural – which is something that very few small speakers get right.
I should also mention that the automatic switching feature is really handy if you use the Transparent Zeros in more than one location with different equipment. When you connect the subwoofer it just works; and, when you disconnect it, the Transparent Zeros just work without it; you don’t have to remember to switch it on and off. This sounds trivial, but it’s one more of those nice touches that makes life a little bit easier.
Z Review - Vanatoo T1 (Unboxing & Review)
Finally The Dark Side
Just to be fair, nobody’s perfect. I did discover a few minor quibbles with the Vanatoo Transparent Zeros. They were all really trivial, but I figure it’s only fair to share the bad with the good.
First off, if you’ve been shopping around, you’ll know that the Transparent Zeros aren’t exactly cheap for a tiny little computer speaker. As you’ve also undoubtedly figured out by now, I believe that they do so many things so well, and sound so good, that this isn’t really an issue at all.
They may be tiny, but the Transparent Zeros sound as good or better than many larger and far more expensive speakers, especially if you add a subwoofer. And, on that note, you can use them with any subwoofer that has a volume control, which gives you lots of options.
Second, while their unusual shape gives you lots of options for placement of the Transparent Zeros, it does require that you exercise a bit of care around them. If you’re using the stand, you have to make sure they’re located on a firm flat surface; you can’t leave the stand hanging off the edge of your desk or they will fall.
Likewise, if you put the passive radiator down, you can’t stuff papers under them; and, if you put the passive radiator on the top, you can’t stack stuff on top of them. And, yes, when you pick them up, you actually have to where you grab them. In short, you really must treat them like a little piece of high end audio gear – and not like a paper weight that plays music.
Finally, some audiophiles may note with disdain that the USB input only supports sample rates up to 48k, and doesn’t support any of the latest high-resolution audio formats. I’ve got to tell you, this isn’t really important at all.
Almost all player programs will simply convert whatever they’re playing to support the sample rate of the output device Higher sample rates are simply a means to an end, and that end is good sound quality; the numbers don’t mean anything unless the music sounds good. The Transparent Zeros sound great; which is the important thing. And, yes, if you’re a real hard-core audiophile, then the analog input means you can use them with your favorite external DAC or your own high-end digital audio player if you really want to.
They’re Just Really Good At a Lot Of Stuff
At the risk of repeating myself, what’s great about the Vanatoo Transparent Zeros is that they do so many different things so well. Everything, from the nice looking but tough satin finish enamel they used on the cabinets, to the remote control that’s small enough to put anywhere, but big enough to have real buttons, to the actual Volume control knob that you can turn, to the removable grill cloth, which fits in either direction, and stays exactly where you put it, just underlines how much effort Vanatoo put into getting all the little details right.
Still, as far our best bluetooth speakers go these T0's are superb. They’re really great little computer speakers; they sound really good playing music; and, with the addition of a subwoofer, they actually deliver sound quality to rival a lot of larger, and much more expensive, audio systems. I won’t be parting with mine any time soon.
Vanatoo T0 Transparent Zero Bluetooth Speakers Unboxing [Video]
Here is the transcription of the T0 unboxing video below:
So Here's some of what we've got in the box.
- We've got the start guide
- We've got a nice chunky wall wart
- We have a cool little remote control
- We've got a network cable
- We've got a USB cable
- We've got an audio cable
- We've got another audio cable
- We've got the power cord
- And we've got nice little foam bases which are for vibration resistance and stuff
- And thoughtfully we've even got a little allen key to put everything together with
As you can see they're quite compact, they came with the stands pre-installed and the vertical configuration, I guess you would call it where the speaker faces forward and the stand is on the bottom.
These can be mounted a bunch of different ways. You can mount the stand on this side and have it with the drivers facing up, or this seems to be the default configuration which is facing straight forward with the tweeter on the bottom, and the stand facing that way. Let's hook them up.
Just so you can see here, the grills attach by magnet whichever direction you want. You just sit them there and they grab on. Unlike Some speakers I've seen with magnetic grills these actually stay in place. With a nice little logo that we can align to be vertical or horizontal.
For the rest of this I'm gonna take the grills off because well, I don't usually use grills on speakers.
Okay, we're gonna hook these up to a computer so we're gonna do this just the way most people are going to be doing it and we've got backs of our two little guys here, and on the back of one we've got a simple network connection.
This actually came with a network cable and we were kind of supposed to use the one that came with it but you could use a different one if you wanted to go a little longer. They give you a nice heavy-duty long one that looks to be about 10-12 feet and you plug that in.
We're going to connect the power pack which we already took the liberty of plugging in, and we're gonna connect a nice little USB cable which it also came with. A nice heavy-duty six foot USB cable.
We're gonna connect that to the input that says USB now we're going to connect the other end to our computer.
Off screen here we've got a nice Windows 10 computer so we're going to be using that so let's see how we're gonna go here. And there we have it.