Top positive review
4 people found this helpful
Nice case, but what about the cans??
on 24 September 2014
Firstly this is a review for a case, a pretty expensive case that really ought to be included with a pretty expensive pair of headphones. At the very least it ought to be excellent in every way, considering the price.
It's tough, well made from quality materials that should last and stay looking good, and represents the best imaginable protection for these wonder headphones. The style shouts a bit, which is great if it suits you. The removable flap in the cover is a neat idea for storing some ID and reward information, or an extra lead or such. The little round removable accessory storage pod is big enough to store the USB and TRRS leads, and aircraft TRS to 2xTS adaptor, and perhaps a spare battery (don't know, I don't have or need a spare).
What could/should be better?
The accessory storage tub can fall out, while you're taking more care over the 'phones than anything else, and being round it will roll away. Okay, each owner will probably do this only once, but a bit of Velcro underneath could have been added to usefully prevent this... As others have noted, some sort of hook or loop for a lanyard might be useful too, so you could hang the case somewhere prominent where others can admire it.
Why five stars if it could be improved?
Because the case is essential and does what it needs to do better than any alternative available for these phones. It fits well enough to be worth buying the genuine article. The improvement areas don't quite justify the loss of a star.
A review of the Parrot Zik themselves. Hopefully someone is considering both puchases, Zik + Case, so this review may be useful?
Ziks regularly blow folks minds when they audition them, mine too. But why? What's going on? Surely there are other great sounding headphones out there for similar or less money..? Well, yes and no. Yes, if you want to listen to (rare) binaural recordings, specially recorded and mixed for headphones, but no, not if you want to listen to stereophonic recordings via headphones instead of speakers, not here, not now, not in the consumer world.
Put simply, the Ziks solve a problem, a very big problem, that most of us didn't know needed solving.
That problem is that practically all stereo music is recorded so as to recreate a fully immersive sound-stage when replayed by good quality HiFi equipment including a pair of properly positioned speakers. Get it right and you can really place the individual instruments and vocals - they sound to be really coming from positions on the stage as if you were right their in front of them. But how all this works isn't as straightforward as it might seem. BOTH ears hear BOTH speakers, and hear them each with different tonal and time delay characteristics depending on the listening environment. Essentially we get the right sound at home only when we place the speakers relative to us, roughly where the recording engineer would expect us to.
So what's the problem (pre Zik)? When you take recordings intended for, mixed for, speakers, and then pump each channel directly into each ear you don't actually get anything like a realistic sound-stage, regardless how good the headphones may be. All that mixing of BOTH speakers to be heard differently by BOTH ears is lost. For sure you hear the right tones, and things that are wholly left or wholly right sound "out there", but the sound-stage is infinitely, unrealistically, widened. Sometimes this is okay, and many of us learned to live with it, but a single vocalist properly recorded in stereo, for speakers, sounds very very odd on headphones, like a harmony of clones positioned in a line from extreme left to extreme right - it's impossible to place the vocalist.
For years now, since iPods made headphone/earphone wearing the norm, we've all thought it was a good solution, and striven for ever better headphones, but, unless we were playing special binaural recordings, we were all completely missing the point and being seriously miss-sold! Sure, some headphones are better tonally than others, but none get stereo imagery even vaguely right from a stereo recording, none that is until the Parrot Zik...
After auditioning and purchasing the Parrot Zik, all is clear - no other headphones out there even try to reconstruct stereo to sound the way it was meant to before presenting it in splendid, unnatural, isolation to each ear. The Ziks do an amazing job from A2DP Bluetooth sources, using DSP to remix the two channels, much as a real two-speaker listing environment does, to recreate a an accurate believable sound-stage and a truly immersive sound. Just turn on "Parrot Concert Hall", set the environment to "Living Room", set the speaker separation to 60°, and Kieran Goss's harmony of cloned voices is immediately localised to a single voice accurately positioned at a single point in space. It's almost as if he's standing right there in front of you. Switch the Concert Hall feature off and you have a nice sounding pair of headphones, but Kieran has been cloned and there's a million of them singing all the way from far left to far right, just as you get with any regular headphones..
So, for me, the HUGE thing about Parrot Ziks is that they such a great job of stereophonic to binaural conversion, making music sound every bit as realistic and immersive as it was intended to, something that other headphones don't even attempt to do.
Perhaps one day "stereophonic to binaural" conversion will be included in DSP music player apps on smart phones, and if so you'll be able to finally get get proper stereo imagery out of any decent ear buds, but right here, right now, only the Ziks cut it! They are the only convincing way to hear most music even vaguely as intended, and the only equal to sitting down in your living room with a grands' worth of amp and properly positioned speakers doing the job properly.
In this context the limited battery life is nothing to worry about. Just buy an Anker 10,000 mAh battery unit and you can recharge these cans and your smart phone many times when on the go.
The noise cancellation is also very effective and allows great sound even at moderate volumes even in very noisy environments, which can only be good for protecting your ear and improving enjoyment. Add to that voice calling, touch controls, auto stop start etc, and they make a very compelling argument - revolutionary fidelity (via BT and Concert Hall) and great versatility, ease of use, and style.
Tip one: using the wired option you won't get any of the wondrous DSP effects, but you still get noise cancelling and in this mode battery drain is minimal. Great for watching film after film on long haul flights.
Tip two: on aeroplanes anyone listening to on-board media via their own efficient headphones or earphones, especially noise cancelling or noise isolating ones, usually has the 'planes' music or movie volume set quite low, perhaps at the lowest, but the announcements cut in at a deafening max volume - you can see folk jumping to tear the 'phones from their ears. Well, with the Zik you don't have to suffer this problem. Simply set the plane's volume control to maximum and swipe the ZIK's volume back down to the preferred levels - that way you get the best sound (least electrical noise) and the annoying announcements come in at similar volumes to the music or film you were listening to.
Expensive purchase, not very well understood, but I'm absolutely delighted with them.
I'm baffled that few other reviewers seem to have really sussed out what's special about these. When word gets out about what they really do then they should be game changers...
Perhaps my only criticism is that "Concert Hall" effect should be called the adjustable "stereo to binaural processor" - it really isn't a fancy annoying tweak, it's an essential format conversion.