on 13 November 2012
I purchased these lil' beauts when in Dubai from a HMV store (therefore this review is not of the seller). The HMV employee was plugging these when I went with the intention of buying a pair of Beats by Dr. Dre (surprise surprise). I stated how I was looking for a pair of noise cancelling headphones with no particular music genre in mind, and the gentlemen pointed me in this direction.
Boy these didn't disappoint. The base is truly amazing with the noise cancellation very impressive. In terms of the Bluetooth function, I was dubious as to whether I wanted to head down this route with the thought of me losing connection throughout songs probably the most annoying thing I could think of. However, through months of continuous usage, this hasn't happened once! Yipee. And JUST IN CASE, they do supply a cord if you do prefer.
Once you've connected the headset to your phone (iPhone in my case) it advises you to download the free APP which allows you to determine the way you want the headphones to function i.e turning the noise cancellation on/off. The APP also notifies when a free update is required (VERY QUICK).
If all that wasn't enough, you then have the touch function. Stroking your finger in an upwards motion on the right side of the headset causes the music to increase in volume, and obviously the opposite will turn it down. Swiping forward, skips to the next song, and the reverse will play the previous. When you place the headphones around your neck, the music will automatically pause.
The headphones also enable you to use while talking on the phone with the touch functions applying to answer or ignore a call with the built in mic being fantastic.
ALSO... .in terms of looks, sleek, mature, with the black matt finish robust and cosmetically nice.
Worth the money, and I hope you enjoy them as much as my self. Thank you for your time.
on 1 December 2012
Adding a few updates as I've now been using these 2+ hours every day for a month. Sad news is the wires that connect to the jaw bone and on/off sensor embedded in the right ear pad have come loose inside the ear cup along with the black mesh that covers the driver. Marks lost for build quality.
If you look at these headphones as a complete package they are just good - I can't say they are excellent. The amount of features on these and importantly the way this combination has been executed is certainly exciting but it is in no way flawless. There are a few flaws/nuances that may frustrate some people and I will touch on these.
Design - It's going to come down to a matter of taste but these headphones do really stand out, not so much headphones and more earmuffs, especially when used wirelessly. There is clearly a use of premium materials here, the earcups have a great smooth rubberised texture and the headband is all metal and leather (faux leather maybe?). They really do look and feel lovely, but if you want a headphone that screams "look at what celeb brand I listen to" (ie Beats, House of Marley, 50 Cent, Ludacris.....) these won't be for you.
Fit - The earcups are beautifully cushioned (best cushioning I've felt on headphones) and just about large enough to encompass the whole ear and form a decent seal. The headband however doesn't hold the ear cups very secure; even if you nod/shake your head gently or bend down slowly to pick something up they will likely slip. Moreover if you're lying down with them on they have a tendency to slip off the back of your head. They certainly aren't designed for running around or any kind of activity but will suffice for day to day walking, commuting and so forth. In addition I have found the headband to dig in to the top of my head a little with extended wear (1.5+ hours). To give a bit more information I'm not bald and have at a good guess averagely thick hair. The headband could definitely do with more tension and more padding, even the biggest of heads will experience some slippage. The size of the headband can be adjusted easily by pulling or pushing on the earcups.
Bluetooth connectivity/range - works really well with my iPhone and MacBook. I have tried the NFC with Samsung Galaxy S3 and couldn't get it to connect without manually selecting it from the Bluetooth menu, bit disappointing. In terms if switching between devices you have to disconnect from one before the other will connect. This would stop anyone being able to connect and play their music through your headphones in public. The range seems reasonable, up to 10m through a wall, further if you're in the open. I'll come on to sound quality/skipping through Bluetooth later.
Touch control - outstanding feature. Really easy to use and works exactly how Parrot say it does. However, the volume control seems to be independent of your device, as in turning the volume up on the headphones does not control the volume slider on the iPhone. This seems a little illogical as if you turn the volume all the way down on the headphones you will still hear music unless you turn the volume right down on the iPhone. Additionally, the touch volume doesn't really allow for fine adjustments of the volume, and of course you will never be able to tell how far off maximum volume you really are. Also, it would have been nice to have a lock function on the touch panel as it can easily be hit by accident and pause the music if you're adjusting the headphones. These are slight issues that just take a little getting used to.
Pause music/proximity sensor - the headphones will auto-pause the music if you remove them or put them round your neck. This actually works really well. It seems to be some form of pressure sensor built next to the jaw bone sensor on the right ear pad. There is maybe a second or two pause between the music stopping/starting and you removing/putting them back on. Really good feature though. After about a month's use however the wire that runs from this sensor in to the right ear cup itself has come loose and seemingly taken the mesh covering the driver with it.
Noise cancelling - works really well to block out low frequencies such as rumbling buses, trains, jet engines. Maybe not as good as Bose, but not far off and better than most other noise cancelling headphones. There is a very very slight "hiss" before music kicks in.
Sound - This is still the most important factor despite all the gadgetry. To give an objective review of how these headphones sound is difficult because of the sheer number of variables (Bluetooth vs wired, Noise cancelling vs non-noise cancelling, active vs passive, and then of course there is the Parrot app that let's you play around with the equaliser and room type and speaker angle). I myself found it difficult to choose my favourite everyday set up and almost wish Parrot had just tuned them up so I didn't have to choose. What I will say is that they don't sound very good until you start tweaking them, but the results you can get are dramatically improved from the factory defaults.
Comparing them with other headphones they are better than the Bose QC 15s and clearly better than what I've heard from Dr Dre's Beats range (Studio and Pro). I don't think they can stand up to the Sony MDR-1RNCs though which I believe are up there with the best sounding sets in this price bracket. The sound is full, responsive and definitely on the side of bass heavy but by no means distorted, but not the tightest bass I've heard. There does seem to be a lot of sound processing going on in these headphones in Active mode, which will not appeal to those looking for a pure audio experience.
Using them in Bluetooth mode you can notice a slight dip in quality compared to wired, especially when you go out of the room where the device is, and you do notice the quality return when you move back to within a couple of meters of your device. However, vs the wired mode there is very little difference and these headphones are certainly better when compared to most other Bluetooth headphones such as the slightly cheaper Harmon Kardon BT set and Beats offerings. The Sennheiser 550s might win out over the Parrots in terms of quality but the Parrots go significantly louder. I don't think the Parrots are as good as the Sony MDR-1RBT set but those don't have the noise cancelling of the Parrots which is very well executed.
Turning on the noise cancelling you notice the bass drop away slightly. I've heard people talk about an echo effect these have but I haven't noticed it with NC mode on or off. Using them in passive mode (without battery) is pointless, very poor sound but that's to be expected. If you're buying these you are buying for the wireless active mode.
Bluetooth reliability - there have been instances where the music has begun to skip, and I can't remediate this unless I go out of the album/playlist and restart the music app on the iPhone. I initially wasn't sure if it was the iPhone or the headphones but after a fair few hours playing around with different sources (Galaxy S3 and MacBook Pro) I am now sure the issue lies at the source and the headphones are perfectly capable as long as they are in range. What seems to happen with the iPhone 4S is that certain songs skip in certain places, I am not entirely sure why, as I have tried re-downloading but the skipping still occurs at certain moments. I have somewhat narrowed it down to quiet/rhythmic parts of songs where there is silence for a fraction of a second, this I think then causes the Bluetooth to drop out. The Parrot Ziks then certainly have a lot riding on the evolution/reliability of Bluetooth transmission. This could be a real spoiler for some people.
Battery life - not great, you will get about 5 hours as advertised with everything (Noise cancellation, Bluetooth and Concert Hall effects) turned on, more life with noise cancelling off, and more so up to about 15 or 20 hours with everything off, but still using Bluetooth. This could seriously be improved on and is a bit of an insult when other headphones (Sony MDR-1RBT) will get you 30 hours, but then again they don't have Noise Cancellation which is a real battery sucker. The Parrots come with a micro USB charging cable, would be nice to have its own plug or even dock, and at an RRP of £350 I don't think that's an unreasonable request.
Case - just a cloth pouch is provided, which is pretty lousy at this price point and for a set of headphones many consumers will use for travel. The box is quite nice though but that's a bit beside the point.......
Summary - will appeal to gadget lovers and those looking for something a bit different. Would I pay, or should anybody pay £350 for these - no, but I didn't. I got them for £252 which was ultimately the deciding factor for me, but even at that price point (still up there with Bose and so forth) I would expect a decent carrying case and maybe its own plug for charging. Interestingly £252 is close to what a set of Bowers and Wilkins P5s cost, and vs these the gadgetry of the Parrots win out vs any loss in audio quality. But to compare these two headphones is madness as they are two very different beasts.
If I were to break them down in terms of value attributed to their merits I would do so as follows. They sound like an £80-100 pair of headphones (once you get them tuned up with the app), add £50 for the Bluetooth, another £50 for the touch panel and on/off trick and another £50-75 for the design/use of premium materials. That comes in at a total of £230-275. Certainly less than £350 RRP.
If anyone is in a real dilemma go for the Parrots if you lean towards gadgets, can live without a case, aren't too fussed about a plug and can live with occasional issues Bluetooth may throw up - these are the major gripes, and as with anything don't pay full price for them.
I've given them 4 stars as I don't think there's anything out there quite like them and crammed full of tech that for the most part works well. In my ideal world I'd give them 3.8.
on 29 May 2014
I've got a pair of dr dre studio wireless headphones they are in the same price range as the parrot ziks so I will compare the both
Firstly the actual build quality on these headphones are amazing even apple would be impressed real good quality materials been used unlike the dre studios
Secondly the sound quality is awesome crystal clear on all types of music no distortion unlike the dre studios
Thirdly the noise cancelling is amazing you realise when you turn it off as the headphones work via a smartphone app unlike dre studios that just belief that distort loudness will compensate noise cancelling
Fourthly the range and Bluetooth interference is amazing on these can nearly walk around my whole gym without having my phone in my pocket and they never turn off when other Bluetooth devices are about unlike the dre studios
Only 2 downside is the dre studios battery life is slightly better than the ziks
And you have to buy the hardcase separate for £40 still in total £10 cheaper than the dre studios ziks costing £340 complete and dre studios costing £350 complete
Personally if your looking at wireless headphones like these or dr dre studios then obviously money's not a concern as they both are in £350 range
If you want to enjoy your music then it has to be the ziks all the way
But if your just a dr dre fan the no matter what i say you'll still buy the studios
on 28 June 2013
A truly fantastic pair of headphones. I've owned a pair for around 7 months. They're used on my daily commute to and from work (around 3 hours per day). They are extremely comfortable and not often sweaty, even in our 'summer'. The construction has (so far) been very durable with only minor blemishes on the cups.
I use them with an iPhone for music and an iPad for video. Sometimes, there will be a hiccup pairing the device (it will refuse) but either restarting the Zik or cycling Bluetooth on the device resolves the issue.
Sound quality is crisp and detailed with solid, punchy bass however, the sound quality is completely dependent on the equaliser settings from within the app (this is applied AFTER any equaliser effects on the playback device). I like bass heavy so have the equaliser set appropriately, and the Ziks handle the bass lines with aplomb, never distorting and always delivering a crisp thumping sound. They truly make listening to music a joy, (Daft Punks, Random Access Memories will blow your mind).
I'm lucky enough to be able to charge my headphones while at work so I can use them through out the day but they really do need to be supplied with an external battery charger.
Cons? If the band isn't adjusted correctly and the cups aren't tight against your head, when your head turns the sound can distort.
Sometimes their is noticeable hiss when it's just a 'man and a guitar' (the opening of Ben Howard's, The Wolves for example) however I'm not sure if that's an encoding or bluetooth issue.
The sensor that auto-pauses can sometimes throw a hissy-fit if say, you lift the headphones off and have them on your neck but the sensor is knocking against your jaw causing repeated pause/plays. You then have to go back to the device to reinstate playback.
So all in all, no serious pitfalls and no matter what the incredible sound more than makes up for it. PS I should get commission from Amazon, I've talked 4 friends into buying these so far! ;^)
on 17 January 2016
I have mixed feelings with these headphones. I love the sound quality, I love the design, I love all the technology they put in these headphones....however, I am now on my second set of these pretty pricey headphones as both of them suffered from the EXACT same issue. The hinge that connects the earcup to the headband keeps breaking and I bought a hard case both times and kept them in very good condition. I heard this is a common defect and I am not very happy as these headphones are pretty pricey. Parrot really needs to address this issue as I can't, in good conscience recommend these (or any other headphones in the Zik product line) to anyone unless this issue gets resolved
on 17 August 2013
OK, so I'm a nerd. OK, so I must have more money than sense! Fact is, I did a lot of on-line research before shelling out that much for headphones. They are spectacular. Absolutely no buyer remorse. If you love quality, give these a try. The fullest report I studied said these were probably second or third out of 10 on sound quality. My ears tell me they're definitely good enough for me. I haven't tried them in a very noisy environment yet (e.g. a 'plane) and the noise cancellation is said to be slightly weaker than some other sets. My main use is for playing my music in the evenings after Mission Control has gone to bed - she is very sensitive to noise while trying to sleep. I wish my TV had bluetooth - I use a different set of headphones for that.
This item oozes quality, feels great, has a very high nerd score and sounds really good.
on 27 July 2013
Best set of headphones I have ever had the pleasure of owning ,they are extremely comfortable and the sound is crisp and clear ,I would recommend purchasing a separate battery as if you do long trips as I do you will require one as the battery only lasts for 6 hours . However you are able to use the cable although the sound is not as punchy as it is using it over Bluetooth
on 13 June 2015
This pair of headphones are absolutely amazing. The sound quality that these can recreate via Bluetooth is unparalleled to anything else I have tried. It doesn't focus on the trebles, mids or bass but if you prefer it to then you can tweak the sound to focus on either of them.
The build quality of these headphones are fantastic. They feel more premium than the price, however, for the price you pay it would be nice to see these come with a hard case rather than the soft case that they come with. I'd definitely recommend buying a hard case for these though as I don't think many people will want to leave the protection of these headphones to chance. You can also use these as wired headphones to save battery for a long haul flight or something like that. That extends the battery life to around 18 hours. The wireless battery life isn't the best, however, I tend to get at least 6 hours with all functions on.
You can connect these headphones to your phone using NFC which is really handy. Just tap your phone against your left ear and they will automatically pair. The swipe controls on the right ear are fun and very practical too. I find that the best way to control your music, to produce the best sound quality and for ease, is to set your volume to max on your phone and then use the independent volume adjuster on the headphones (swipe up/down) to change the volume. This way you can change from minimum to maximum volume with the swipe of a finger.
There is an app that you can download from the App Store or the Play Store which allows you to really tweak the sound you get out of these. Without using the app the headphones sound a bit flat (but that may just be because they've raised my standards). However, if you spend a bit of time with the app and get to know what settings you like (Concert Hall Effect and EQ) then your audio will sound better than it ever has done.
I almost forgot to include my favourite feature... Active Noise Cancellation. The headphones have four microphones dotted around them (which don't detract from the aesthetics) which allow very good noise cancelling. I have to get the bus every morning and evening and even when I'm not listening to music I'll still use the ANC to drown out some of the noise of kids shouting up and down the bus.
Overall, a great pair of headphones that I highly recommend getting.
on 6 May 2014
I bought these as I was tired of paying £200+ for earphones only for them to become useless once the wires inevitably failed (crackles, etc).
Being wire-free is great BUT they really should have a better range and battery-life to take advantage of this.
Mine last about 4hrs. I knew the battery-life was short, having done my research, so I bought a spare battery but there's no charger in the pack so the only way to charge is with the headphones meaning that you can't use them.
The range, within a flat (i.e. intervening walls), is about 5 meters. This short range is not helped by the failure of the devices to then re-establish connection once you return within range. Perhaps it's my particular combination of hard and software but I find I need to re-start my player and locate the point in the track where I lost signal.
They're also not the most compact of things but little different from their peers in this respect, which I did physically view courtesy of Selfridges and John Lewis on Oxford Street. They certanily are the best looking of the current wire-free headphones).
As for sound, they are very good. The noise-cancelling certainly can't match the noise-excluding seal and ear-canal delivery of the Etymotic or Ortofon in-ear devices (which I have or had) but it's still good. The quality of reproduction is, to my ears, as good as the Etymotic, Ortofon or the top-end Sennheiser's I've got (all wired).
The touch-sensitive controls are very good - lovely to not have any buttons (other than on/off).
They are very comfortable, though I'd prefer them a little tighter.
All-in-all, I'm not 'in love' with these but I am enjoying the freedom from wires very much and certainly more than enough to compensate for the niggles. I'm also cautiously optimistic that the absence of failure-prone wires will mean that they'll last longer than previous purchases, so the long-term value-for-money also ought to compensate for the weaknesses.
on 10 April 2014
Firstly I would like to point out that I bought these from amazon for £209.99. I think this was a one day offer or something because the price rose the day after. £210 is an unbelivable price for these headphones and I cannot quite believe I managed it!
I own a pair of beyerdynamic DT990 Pro's for my audiophile listening and in my house there is also a set of the Bose Quiet Comfort 3's (just small form factor qc15's). The Parrots will be replacing my old Sennheiser PX360's which served me rather well but I just really wanted a wireless set!
So this review is mainly going to be a direct comparison between my parrots and the qc3's, the closest competition in my opinion in terms of quality and price. (although not wireless!)
Form Factor - QC3's. This one is dependent on how you like your headphones, personally I like them with a bit of weight and to be over-ear. But admittedly the smaller and on-ear cups of the QC'3 are fantastically comfortable and you barely notice you are wearing them.
Battery - QC3's. For me, this was really not a big deal. I already use an android device daily and so charging the parrot was no issue at all and I actually prefer it, whereas the QC3's, while they last longer (hence the win) , you have to use silly proprietary connectors and remove the battery from the headphones to charge them. I have heard some people complain that 6 hours of use before flat is just not enough, but for me, I picked up an Anker Battery pack (12000mah) for about £25 which i take everywhere pretty much, and I use this to keep all my devices juiced :) 6 Hours is plenty, and that is with all of the features enabled! You can use both sets of headphones passively too (over wire with no effects/noise cancelling) which is nice.
Price - Parrot's. At the time of writing the Bose QC15's are £259.99 and in my experience you pay a £20 ish premium for the QC3's, and the Parrots were £249.00 (although like i said I got mine for £209.99)
Noice Cancelling - Tie. In my short experience the noise cancelling effect was equally as good on both sets. Both struggle to protect from the higher pitch tones, and both cover the deeper tones easily and completely. Both sets gave the little "hiss" when there was no song playing, but you barely notice it on either.
Sound Quality - Parrot's. Yes, this was a close one. And from stock I would suggest that they are pretty much equal. But the feature rich Parrot application is where the Parrots gain the advantage, you can pretty much completely change the sound of the headphones when you play with the EQ or the Orchestral effects... Its stunning! In my opinion neither are quite as superb as the Beyer's, but in their small size I would not expect them to be. The beyers are solely designed for home-audiophile/recording use. You cant exactly wear them while walking through town or on a plane :P
Aesthetics - Parrot's. Philippe Starck is a genius, undoubtedly. These headphones are a work of art! Matches function and form perfectly.
Features - Parrot's. By a country mile. Let me just answer this with a pair of lists:
Bose: Active Noise Cancelling, Passive Listening option.
Parrot's: NFC pairing connection, Active Noise Cancelling, Touch sensitive right ear pad, microphones for phone calls, jawbone sensor, clever parrot app, WIRELESS! Auto-pause, Auto-Power off, Auto bluetooth reconnect. And did I mention Wireless?!
I cannot overstate enough about how much better a set of wireless headphones are. You feel so free! You can move your head freely and without any restriction, no more untangling of wires and no more damaged connectors. Its now a must for me in terms of headphones...
Once you go wireless, you likely wont go back!
These are THE best, all around headphones for under £500, and to be honest I don't actually think there is anything better on the market! Sure, there are headphones with better quality sound, and a nicer form factor, and (debatably) better noise cancelling, but to get better, you have to go more expensive, and none of those more expensive options all come together in such a fantastic looking and superb value-for money product. Are they worth £250? Definitely. Are they worth £300? Yeah! Should you buy anything else? No!