Parrot Zik wireless headphones
Parrot's Zik headphones are packed full of tech, but do they provide great sound quality?
- Great looking design
- Touch sensitive controls
- Excellent noise cancellation
- A little heavy
- Audio quality doesn't justify price
- Not the best voice call quality
The Parrot Zik headphones are the best wireless Bluetooth headphones your money can buy, combining a great looking design with some excellent features like intuitive, touch sensitive controls. However, the high price tag doesn't match the audio quality. The Zik headphones don't sound bad by any means, but for $500, the sound quality isn't going to blow you away. That's a shame.
Price$ 499.00 (AUD)
Bluetooth headphones have always had a stigma attached to them: a nice, convenient idea, but hindered by poor audio quality. Wacky French tech company Parrot — the same folks who brought us the AR.Drone and AR.Drone 2.0 flying quadricopters — is trying to change that perception with the Zik wireless headphones. They're packed full of some very cool technology and boast excellent noise cancellation, but they're overpriced.
Zik by Starck
The Parrot Zik headphones form part of Parrot's "design by" range and were designed by French designer and architect Philippe Starck. Design is often a subjective matter, but in our opinion the Zik's are one of the best looking headphones on the market.
The Zik headphones are an over the head design that Parrot says follow the shape of your head. A padded, black leather head-band contrasts nicely with an aluminium frame that feels very well constructed. The head-band telescopes out around an inch, so the Zik's will fit most sized heads. We like the convenient numbers marked 1-4 on the aluminium frame, too, which means you can quickly adjust the band to the appropriate size.
Despite the attractive design, the Zik headphones are pretty heavy. They're not entirely uncomfortable to wear, but you definitely know when you have them on. Further, we found the head-band tended to dig into the top of our head after about 15-20 minutes of use. This annoyance isn't completely unbearable, but you can definitely feel it.
The large ear cups is where everything comes together on the Zik headphones. The right sided ear cup houses the power button, a micro-USB port and an invisible control panel on the side that's touch sensitive. Volume is controlled by swiping the panel vertically to set the volume and tracks can be skipped by swiping horizontally. The end result is very impressive and the learning curve is ridiculously easy.
The Zik headphones also automatically pause your music when they are removed from your ears due to the inclusion of a presence-sensor on the inside of the ear cup. We found this feature worked mostly as advertised, though on the odd occasion the sensor wouldn't detect when we had removed the headphones.
Great noise cancellation, OK sound
The Parrot Zik headphones come with an active noise cancelling system that we found worked just as well as most other leading noise cancelling models. Using the Zik headphones on a busy, peak hour train in Sydney, the headphones effectively blocked out almost all noise, sans a very loud and close conversation. There's a slight hiss when the noise cancellation is active, but this doesn't tend to affect audio quality too much.
The Zik headphones boast reasonably impressive sound quality, but obviously won't do enough to impressive audiophiles. The two 40mm Neodymium drivers provide loud audio and definitely don't lack punch but the overall sound isn't as vibrant as many wired alternatives in the same price category.
That being said, the Zik's are wireless headphones and they sound better than most Bluetooth headphones we've tested. Bass reproduction can be muddy and the sound isn't entirely natural, but treble detail is notable and both highs and lows are reasonably balanced. We found the Zik's best suited to electronic music but they are balanced enough to listen to most other genres without too many complaints, either, provided you're not expecting audiophile quality.
The noise cancellation feature on the Parrot Zik is active by default. However, Parrot does allow users alter the acoustics and sound-space of the headphones through a handy smartphone app available on both the iOS app store and Google's Play Store. This DSP algorithm called "Parrot Concert Hall" aims to create the effect of being at a concert. Users can adjust the stereo separation and the speakers angle, choosing from standard presets like concert hall, jazz club, living room, or silent room.
Handling phone calls
In addition to handling audio, the Parrot Zik headphones have been designed to handle mobile phone calls over Bluetooth. A total of four microphones are built-in to enable voice calls over Bluetooth and there's also a jawbone sensor that Parrot says allows the unit to distinguish your voice from background noise.
In general, we found call quality through the Zik headphones to be a hit and miss affair. Volume could have used a boost and incoming voice audio sounded too muffled for our liking. It's certainly convenient to be able to answer calls through the Zik headphones, but the quality can't match a quality Bluetooth headset. Therefore, we can only recommend using the Zik headphones for short voice calls.
Connecting the Zik headphones via Bluetooth is a simple process, but even easier is using NFC to pair them. An embedded NFC chip enables you to tap an NFC compatible smartphone against the side of the Zik headphones to immediately pair the two devices. Unfortunately, the NFC feature is initially only compatible with two smartphones, the BlackBerry Curve and the Nokia N9. It will require a software software update to support various other NFC compatible smartphones like Samsung's Galaxy S III, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and the HTC One X, though Parrot hasn't specified an exact date as to when this will occur.
Parrot says the battery of the Zik, a rechargeable, removable 800mAh Lithium-ion battery hidden in the left ear cup, will last for up to five hours of music playback on a full charge and will charge in around an hour and a half. We found the battery lasted us almost three days, with approximately two hours of use per day.
An included 3.5mm audio cable means you can use the Zik headphones as traditional wired headphones even when the battery runs out, but you'll obviously lose the active noise cancelling, touch controls and Bluetooth features. The Zik headphones charge via an included micro-USB cable.
The Parrot Zik headphones are available now for $499. The headphones are sold through Apple Stores, leading consumer stores, concept stores and Hi-Fi stores.
• Parrot Zik wireless headphones preview
• Chirpy Parrot defends Aussie Zik pricing
• Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 quadricopter review
• Parrot chirpy about in-car Asteroid
• Parrot AR.Drone quadricopter review
Join the newsletter!
There are so many different options for cloud (online) storage.
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 HP Envy x360 13 (Ryzen): Full, in-depth review
- 2 Dell G5 review: Easy to live with
- 3 D-Link Omna 180 Cam HD DSH-C310 review
- 4 Ring Video Doorbell review
- 5 Sony Bravia 2017 TVs: Full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- HyperX bring the Cloud Mix to Australia
- Jaybird upgrade true wireless offering with Run XT
- Jabra amplify enterprise offering with new Evolve 65t earbuds
- CES 2019: 3D Audio was one of the loudest trends on the show floor
- CES 2019: Nura miniturize with new NuraLoop earbuds
PCW Evaluation Team
This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.
Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications
I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)
It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!
The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.
I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.
- Everything we (already) know about the Samsung Galaxy S10, S10e, S10+ and Galaxy F
- Razer Phone 2 review: One for the fans
- Samsung’s Galaxy S10 will launch on Feb 20
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies