Review: Parrot Zik 3 headphones, with looks by Philippe Starck
Stylish headphones look great, produce exquisite sound, cancel noise well and fit cosily, but their weight and relatively short battery life may be drawbacks
When it comes to Bluetooth headphones, the Parrot brand may not come immediately to mind. But the company, better known for its drone products, is edging its way into the market, especially at the higher end. With its latest release – the third generation in the Zik series – will it be able to broaden its fan base?
Philippe Starck is responsible for the look of the Zik series, so you can expect style. They come in three looks – classic black leather, a crocodile-skin effect or an overstitched leather effect – which should appeal to the fashion-conscious.While the headband appears circular and should fit anyone’s head, it becomes angular when stretched from ear to ear, which is aesthetically less pleasing. The headphones are comfortable to wear with the soft cushioned ear cups, but weigh in at 270 grams so they’re not something you want to wear for a long time.
With the “head detection” sensor, music pauses automatically when you remove the headphones and resumes when they are back on. Other than swiping the touch controls up and down for volume, backwards and forwards for skip, you can also tap and hold to activate your mobile phone’s voice assistant. It’s a sensitive feature, however, and can be activated by accident. New and improved is the automatic adaptive noise cancellation – one of the biggest selling points of the Zik series. Without getting into technical details, it’s safe to say you will never have to worry about ambient noise again and can enjoy music without cranking up the volume. The “street mode” allows you to cross the road safely or keep the Zik on while having a conversation. Also new is the wireless charging option. Be warned that the charger has to be bought separately. USB audio is now available so you can charge the headphones through a computer while still listening to your music.
Parrot has built a very functional companion app that allows you to adjust the noise cancellation, the equaliser, acoustics, download presets and more. The “producer mode” comes with a five-band equaliser, and there are plenty of preset profiles for users who don’t want to fiddle around. The over-the-ear, closed-back design, ensures minimal sound leakage. You can receive phone calls. The Zik 3 uses two dedicated microphones to reduce noise and it does so pretty well. Under my test, road noise was still audible but the speakers sounded clear enough. But voices can sound distant, probably due to the design and the distance between microphone and mouth.
Battery life is average: roughly six hours of listening per charge. That’s the price to pay for exquisite sound. If you’re not already familiar with Zik headphones, try them on to feel the fit and weight and be sure to check how you look in the mirror. Just try not to fall in love with the sound too quickly.