The Vanatoo Transparent Zero speakers are among the best small powered speakers available. We were quite impressed by the performance, sound quality, versatility, and overall price/quality ratio. If you’re looking for a pair of bookshelf/desktop speakers under $400, the Vanatoo Transparent Zero should be on your list. If you want to learn more, read our in-depth review.
The Vanatoo Transparent Zero speakers are among the best small powered speakers on the market. The performance, sound quality, versatility, and overall price/quality ratio impressed us.
If you’re looking for a pair of bookshelf/desktop speakers under $400, the Vanatoo Transparent Zero should be on your short list. If you want to learn more, read our comprehensive review.
The next step was logical: after the initial success, the founders desired a larger share and decided to create something smaller and more affordable. Transparent Zero is the result of their efforts.
This is a pair of small but powerful powered speakers. Before we begin, let’s take a quick look at Vanatoo Transparent Zero and list everything we liked and disliked about it.
The Vanatoo Transparent Zero speakers have an unusual shape. Their unique design allows for a great deal of flexibility in terms of placement, orientation, and purpose. Transparent Zero speakers can be connected to your computer and used as desktop or gaming speakers, or they can be connected to your TV and used as TV speakers or bookshelf speakers (only in small rooms).
Because of their unique design, they can be angled upward or choose the “90-degree” orientation (with a down-firing or up-firing passive bass radiator).
You will get different sound signatures with all of these different placement and orientation options, and you can make different software adjustments to get the best performance for each orientation. This is a very adaptable speaker.
In terms of connectivity, the speakers are quite versatile. Analog audio sources can be connected via the 3.5mm AUX port. USB Type-B, digital optical (TOSLINK), and Bluetooth with aptX support are the three digital connections. There’s also a subwoofer output, so you can connect an external subwoofer to this 2.0 system for improved low-end performance.
The audio performance was the most impressive to us. That level of balance, clarity, and detail is unheard of from a pair of small speakers. To be completely honest, we were taken aback. We have a few minor issues with sound reproduction, but they are all easily resolved.
The only drawback we found was the inability to customize the speakers. We like that you can customize a lot of things (speaker placement and orientation, DSP settings, sleep mode settings, stereo/mono output), but the procedure for doing so is quite complicated and requires using the volume knob, V-T-B switch, and Pair-Prog button.
Everything is explained in the manual, but it’s still strange and difficult to remember all those button combinations. We also didn’t like how the volume knob is located on the top panel and is difficult to reach. It seems like a better idea to put it on the front panel of the active speaker.
- Unusual speaker geometry – you may not like the truncated pyramid shape but it enables so much versatility in terms of placement and orientation
- Solid build
- Great connection versatility – AUX, TOSLINK, USB Type-B, Bluetooth, SUB OUT
- Custom-made drivers – 4in aluminum cone woofer, 1in soft dome tweeter
- High-quality built-in amp (four 48W channels)
- High-quality DAC (enables 96K/24bit sample rate through optical input)
- Almost perfectly balanced and very pleasant sound signature
- Great bass extension without any noticeable distortion
- Adjustable bass and treble
- The volume knob is hard to reach
- Adjusting and customizing the speaker can be confusing
- The remote buttons are not backlit and they all look the same (except for the volume buttons)
We don’t believe you can find a better-sounding speaker at this price. They are small and take up little space; they can be positioned and oriented in various ways; they allow you to connect up to four audio sources (1 analog + 3 digital); and, most importantly, they sound fantastic.
The depth, clarity, and detail provided by the Vanatoo Transparent Zero are difficult to find at this price point and nearly impossible to obtain from any other pair of speakers of this size. They have earned our highest recommendation.
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What’s in the box?
You will find your speakers (with removable handles/kickstands), power cable (with power adapter), a set of cables (3.5 to 3.5mm AUX cable, 3.5mm to RCA cable, USB Type-B to USB Type-A cable, and RJ-50 cable for connecting the speakers),
2.5mm Allen wrench (for removing/repositioning the handle/kickstand), 2 isolation pads, 2 removable magnetic grilles, remote, user manual, and 3-year warranty) inside a white box. The TOSLINK cable is not included and must be purchased separately.
If you want, you can also purchase speaker stands (ISO-130 stands).
At this point, we’d like to emphasize one point: Vanatoo provides a 3-year warranty, demonstrating that they truly believe in their product and are willing to stand behind it. The majority of manufacturers only provide a one or two-year warranty. Vanatoo deserves praise.
The Vanatoo Transparent Zero powered speakers have unusual geometry. This type of shape is known as a truncated pyramid.
The speakers are small but powerful. Their dimensions are 4.757.57.75in (WxHxD). The active speaker weighs 4.5 pounds, while the passive speaker weighs 4 pounds. The speakers have a few interesting characteristics.
First and foremost, there are no left and right speakers (only passive and active). Place either speaker on either side and then change the software settings. The active speaker is supposed to be your right channel by default, but you can move it to the left side and then adjust the settings.
Second, the speakers can be oriented in various ways (upward angled baffle, 90-degree orientation with a down-firing or up-firing passive bass radiator). In the following two sections, we will go over all of these features in greater detail (Features and Performance).
The drivers can be found on the front panel. You get two custom drivers: a 4in aluminum cone woofer and a 1in soft dome tweeter. In addition to the tweeter, the active speaker has an LED status indicator and an IR receiver.
The speakers come with two powerful magnetic grilles that can be removed. The grilles are black, and the bottom has a small Vanatoo logo. Without grilles, these speakers appear raw and industrial in our opinion. With the grilles, they look a little more stylish.
Each speaker has one passive bass radiator on the top panel (or bottom panel, depending on the orientation of the speaker and handle/kickstand).
The volume knob, which is actually the multifunction knob, is located on the top/bottom panel of the active speaker. You can use it to change the volume, bass, and treble, as well as some software settings.
Both speakers have handles/kickstands built into the back panel (the manufacturer calls them supports). You can remove them or install them on the top or bottom end of the rear panel, depending on your personal preferences and the orientation you want to achieve.
The rear panels house all of the inputs and outputs. There is only one RJ-50 input on the passive speaker (for connecting the active speaker).
DC input, RJ-50 port, 3.5mm AUX input, USB Type-B port, TOSLINK input, and SUB output are all available on the active speaker (for connecting an external subwoofer). There is also a pairing/prog button and a V-T-B (volume-bass-treble) switch.
The Vanatoo Transparent Zero is one of the market’s most versatile and feature-rich small speakers.
First and foremost, we will discuss placement. The left and right speakers in most powered 2.0 speaker sets are predefined. You will notice a L mark on one speaker and a R mark on the other, and you will be unable to place them differently.
You can, but the imaging will be incorrect. With Transparent Zero, there is no such thing. Either the left or right speaker can be placed.
The active speaker is set to the right channel by default, but you can move it to the left if you want to or need to (for example, if your wall outlet is located on the left side).
You only need to change some software settings (by selecting the right V-T-B/Pair-Prog/Volume knob combo) after positioning the active speaker on the left side. In the following section, we will show you how to do this.
You can also orient the speakers in different ways thanks to the handles/kickstands. You can remove or leave the handle and use them with upwardly angled baffles and an up-firing bass reflex port. You can also flip them over to get a 90-degree orientation (with a down-firing or up-firing bass reflex port depending on the kickstand position). The speakers are supposed to be at your ear level when used in a 90-degree orientation (placed on a stand).
Depending on the placement and orientation, you must select one of two DSP settings (2 different tunings) – shelved or flat. Shelved is used when the speakers are near a wall. When the speaker is placed 2 feet or more away from a wall, it is referred to as flat.
The crossovers to the external subwoofers in these two DSP settings are set at different frequencies (125Hz in shelved mode; 80Hz in flat mode).
Each speaker is equipped with two drivers and one passive bass radiator. Both drivers are custom-made for this specific set of speakers; they are not generic drivers found on other manufacturers’ speakers. The 1in tweeter was something that surprised us.
The majority of speakers of this size use smaller tweeters (.75in or even smaller). The woofer-to-tweeter crossover frequency is set at 2,200Hz.
The cabinets are made of 0.35in thick rubber-coated MDF. They appear to be quite strong and long-lasting.
The Vanatoo Transparent Zero speakers can be used in either mono or stereo mode. To switch between modes, press the appropriate button combination (V-T-B/Pair-Prog/Volume knob) on the active speaker. It’s not like you need mono sound all the time, but there are some situations where it could be useful.
As an example, If you want to take the active speaker to the garage, you’ll need to switch to mono sound to get a normal performance (instead of only one channel).
The speakers also include a sleep mode (not auto turn-off mode). The speaker will go to sleep if there is no audio signal for 20 minutes. Sleep mode consumes less power (from 6W to 0.5W).
If you don’t like the sleep mode, you can disable it by pressing the appropriate button/switch/knob combination.
The infrared remote that comes with the speakers is small, sturdy, and very responsive. The remote can be used to change the source, adjust or mute the volume, start Bluetooth pairing, and adjust the bass and treble.
On the remote, there are two interesting buttons: Auto and Enable. When you press the Auto button, the audio source is automatically selected based on the input hierarchy. The input hierarchy is as follows: 1. AUX, 2. USB, 3.
Performance and Sound Quality
Installing Vanatoo Transparent Zero is a simple process. Position the speakers, choose an orientation (you can experiment with different orientations to find the sound you prefer), connect the audio sources, plug the power cable into the wall outlet, and turn them on.
The speakers will play audio in stereo mode by default, with the active speaker being the right channel, and the sleep mode and shelved DSP settings enabled.
All of these default settings are modifiable (play audio in mono, place the active speaker on your left side and use it as your left channel, select flat DSP mode, or disable sleep mode). This is where things get tricky – the only thing we don’t like about this speaker set is the inability to change the software settings. You cannot use the remote to change any software settings.
You must instead use the buttons on the active speaker. To enable or disable any function, use the volume knob, V-T-B switch, and Pair-Prog button. You must first select the appropriate volume knob and V-T-B switch positions before pressing the Pair-Prog button.
If you haven’t noticed, Vanatoo Transparent Zero speakers are excellent. This set has a lot of appealing features, including placement and orientation flexibility, connection versatility (AUX + TOSLINK + USB + Bluetooth with aptX + SUB output), customization options, and, most importantly, exceptional sound quality.
There are some minor drawbacks, but the majority of them (at least the most significant ones) are easily remediable (for example, vibrations can be easily eliminated by placing the speakers on isolation pads). If you’re looking for a pair of speakers under $400, this unusually shaped speaker set is worth a look.
FAQs About Vanatoo Transparent Zero Powered Speakers
What is Vanatoo T0?
The T0 brings audiophile sensibilities to a small, affordable, and practical everyday device. The magic behind the experience is great bass, clear mids, sparkling highs, holographic imaging, and amazing dispersion. Bluetooth aptX wireless connectivity.
How do I pair my Vanatoo speakers?
Press and release the “Pair-Prog” button on the rear of the active speaker, or use the remote control to select “Enable” and then “BT Pair.” b. Turn on Bluetooth on your source device and pair it with the Vanatoo T0.
How do you open a Vanatoo remote?
To begin, flip the remote over so that the back of the remote is facing up, and then push the battery tray locking tab toward the center of the remote. Then, while continuing to push the locking tab toward the center of the remote, pull the tray away from it. Take note that the battery’s “+” polarity is facing the back of the remote.
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