Review: Parrot Zik, the King of Wireless Headphones
The Parrot Zik is the closest thing we have to a “smart headphone”. Not only does it look sleek, stylish, and cool, it’s also packed with tons of innovative features. Everything from touch-based controls, advanced jawbone sensors, Bluetooth, NFC, and a noise-cancellation, the Zik has it all. It even has an free App that you can get from the App Store (Apple) or Google Play (Android). It definitely is a work of art!
However, just like any masterpiece, it comes at a very high price. From what I’ve heard the local distributor will sell this for Php21,000+. That’s definitely much more than what people would pay for headphones. However if you’re totally in love with your music and you want the best your money can buy, then read on for our review of the Parrot Zik below. 🙂
Made to Please
Parrot, a French company, did an exceptional job with the design of the Zik. The headband is covered in black leather-like material with padding underneath it to help cushion your head. As you go down the headband you’ll find the metallic retractable rods that connect the ear cups to the band. To break the duality of the silver and black colors, they used some sort of light orange color for the the insides of the metal connector in between the black leather headband and the metal connectors. I seriously appreciate this kind of attention to detail!
If we were impressed with the headband and the metal rods, we were blown away with the ear cups. Not just because of the design, but because of the amount of technology Parrot was able to pack in them.
First, like what we mentioned earlier the Zik has noise cancellation. As with any device that has that feature, you need external batteries for that to work. There’s no removable plastic ledge here that you have to pry open with your nails. With the Zik you get a magnetic latch in one of the exterior faces of the ear cups. Removing it will show you where you should plug in the rechargeable battery that comes in the box.
For the ports and controls you have the power button, a microUSB slot (for charging), a built-in microphone for calls, and a headphone jack should you want to use it with the wire. You’re probably thinking where did Parrot put the pause, play, forward, and volume buttons. We’ll get to that in the next section of the review but believe me when I say you’re in for a very pleasant surprise!
Smart Controls and Sensors
Now let’s get to the fun part! The high-tech stuff, hehe. There are several features that I want to tackle that the Parrot Zik offers.
If you want to go wireless you can connect by pairing your headset via Bluetooth. If you don’t want the usual way of doing it (opening your smartphone, scanning, etc.), you can turn on NFC on your smartphone and tap it to the ear cup of the Zik. NFC should activate the Bluetooth Pairing. Cool eh?
We mentioned earlier that there are no buttons for Play, Pause, Next/Previous, and Volume. That’s because Parrot built a touch-sensitive outer ear cup that can do all of that. If you tap it that will activate Play/Pause/Answer or End Call. Swiping upwards or downwards controls the volume Swiping left and right will activate Next and Previous. This is definitely awesomeness in motion but there is one downside to this though. You can easily get trolled by your friends. If they know what the Zik can do all they have to do is touch your ear cup and swipe upwards to jack up the volume while you’re watching! Lol.
Other than the touch-controls, the Zik also boasts of a Jawbone Sensor and Motion Sensors. The Jawbone Sensor detects if you have the headphone on. If you pull it back and let it hang from your neck, it the sensor is triggered and the cans will automatically pause the music playing. This feature also works with the motion sensor. If you remove it from your head, the Zik will detect this and will pause your music.
User-friendly App gives you info and control
The Zik has a free app called the Parrot Audio Suite for Android and iOS devices. With the app you can do the following:
Check battery life
Activate/Deactivate Noise Cancellation
Adjust Sound Equalizer
Activate/Deactivate and Adjust Concert Hall Effect
All four functions are actually useful, especially if you like playing around with the equalizer. The Concert Hall Effect feature is also cool. There are four modes: Silent Room, Living Room, Jazz Club, and Concert Hall. My personal favorites are the Silent Room and Jazz Club since it’s more natural and airy. The Concert Hall mode has too much reverb and echo for my taste.
Now we get to the most important part of the review — sound quality. Compared to other bluetooth and wireless headphones, the Parrot Zik is definitely King of the Hill. The sound signature reminds me a lot of the ATH-M50 with a little more bass, echo, and warmer. This is a huge compliment considering this is wireless. In short, I’ve never heard wireless headphones sound as good as the Zik.
For the best sound I suggest you have Noise Cancellation on, connect via Bluetooth, Concert Hall Effect on (set to Silent Room or Jazz Club).
One thing I found weird though was that it sounded bad when you use the cable (becomes muffled, mids very recessed). You’d think that by wiring it you get better sound quality but that’s not the case here. The Zik is truly meant to be used without wires. It also sounds terrible if there’s no battery left and you just turn it off and plug the headphone cable.
If there’s just one major criticism I have it’s the battery life. You can probably get around 5-6 hours of use for this one which means you always have to charge it if you’re a heavy user of headphones. Battery life is crucial since the sound quality really sucks if there’s no battery and you just use the cable.
Pricing and Availability
The Parrot Zik will retail locally for Php21,500. I’ll confirm first which stores will carry it and when it will be officially available and then update this post again.
The Parrot Zik is a luxury item. It’s definitely not for everyone. If you have a lot (as in A LOT) of extra budget and you want to have the best wireless headphones in the market, then this is for you. If you’re not rolling in dough then it’s more practical for you to just get more affordable but great sounding wired cans.