When a Drone Manufacturer Plays with Sound: The Parrot Zik 3

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For the modern consumer, sound is but one part of the personal music experience. Musicphiles may revolt at a statement so unapologetic to sound but Parrot embraced this tone in creating their Zik headphones.

Parrot took the time to think about sound indeed, but they also ensured they would think about everything else, and some of the things you didn’t even think headphones should do.

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The Features

Designed by Philippe Starck, these headphones visually imbue quality before you even place them over your ears. To begin, here are some of the features you will discover as you start to interact with them:

  1. Bluetooth and wired listening (in case your batter dies).
  2. Mobile app for noise cancelling control, equalizer, and music discovery.
  3. Touch pad on headphone for volume control, pause and play, next and prev song, and stop start phone call.
  4. Wireless charging, but you will need to buy the accessories yourself.
  5. Automatic pause when you take them off your ears.

Being able to control your music through a touch pad built onto the outside of the right headphone is remarkable enough, but it continues. The Zik’s will pause and play your music as you take them on and off your head. The gesture controls almost seem trivial compared to a feature this detailed.

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The mobile app that accompanies the headphones is beautifully designed and very intuitive to use. As a user you have control over all parts of your music listening experience. The noise cancelling (which works extremely well) can be altered from “street mode” to “silent room” depending on how much ambient noise you wish to filter out.

The equalizer is also friendlier to those who feel intimidated using one while also not reducing options to generic pre-set colloquialisms such as “house” or “classical.” These features can also be extended to specific artist presets and downloadable equalizer tunings.

Phone calls also come in clear and the music transition in and out of calls is handled seamlessly as one would expect. The microphone built into the speaker is also quite well engineered. I was able to take a phone call while biking in downtown Toronto with no sound issues on my end or the callers end. We both heard each other just fine and because of the touch pad, adjusting call volume was effortless on the bike (and the street mode noise cancelling setting ensured I could still hear traffic).

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The battery could last longer, at 7 hours (when running Bluetooth and noise cancelling) you’ll have to remember to charge them at the end of the day. However, I do like that you can still listen to music with the 3.5mm cable when the battery is dead.

The Sound

When it comes to sound I have one song I will put every pair of headphones through to get an understanding of what they are capable of. This music isn’t for everyone but Skream’s remix of LA Roux’s “In for the Kill” does a few things very well. This song covers many varied frequencies in the low-end bass spectrum of sound we hear in music and Eleanor Jackson’s vocals cover the remaining high-end treble frequencies. On a good set of speakers this song could make a house shake while still piercing into the back of your head.

Most headphones tend to focus on producing high quality mid-range frequencies with some makers adding an additional boost to low-end sound waves. It is much more difficult to engineer great sound in headphones because you only have one speaker for producing all the required sound waves heard in music. Often, a little has to be given up in quality at certain frequencies to ensure an appealing music experience overall.

Skream’s remix usually lets me know quickly what quality and range the speakers can support at wide treble and bass ends of the sound spectrum while still ensuring vocals are in the track. So, I opened the app up, turned the noise cancelling to 100% and the equalizer as far over to deep as possible and started the track. My ears were essentially hit with the equivalent feeling you get when a strong subwoofer punches you in the chest on a deep bass line in a movie theater.

What I was most impressed by was that the sound never crackled and that I could still hear the subtle variations in the low-end frequencies of the song while Eleanor’s voice and the synth keys sounded un-phased above it all. The ability to reverberate notes distinctly that are at close wavelengths to each other is the type of detail sought out when defining a quality of sound for speakers.

The Verdict

 The Parrot Zik 3.0 headphones are stunning, comfortable, sound great, and extend the technical capabilities of modern headphones. Priced at about $400, they over deliver in capabilities. These headphones not only provided an excellent personal music experience they also introduce an often overlooked element of fashion into their design.

These headphones are not the headphones you wrestle over if they are worth the price or not. These are the headphones you either want to have, or wish you could have.

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