All Fifty States Club

Product Review: Parrot Zik Noise Cancelling Headphones

June 26, 2018

I’m no audiophile and I won’t tire you with technical audio measurements on this review. However, I will give you a quick and dirty layman’s review of the Parrot Zik noise cancelling Bluetooth headphones that I recently received as a gift & put into action on a holiday trip. If you are on the fence about owning your own pair, this review might just convince you to click the buy button. I did not receive these headphones from the company nor am I compensated for this review so it is as unbiased as you can get -although I did not personally pay for them – they were a gift.

Let’s get it out of the way – these headphones are expensive. They retail for $399 but it is possible to find some online (Ebay) for a 10-15% discount. For most people, these will be the most costly headphones one will ever purchase in their lifetime. Price definitely matters but the Zik headphones are packed with features that make them worth every penny.

Beautiful! The Ziks are not your everyday, made of flimsy plastic headphones. They have weight to them thanks to the metal components. Quality of construction is evident with tight fitting parts and artistic design. For those car buffs out there, these are the Porsche of headphones.

The high-tech features of the Zik Headphones set them apart from their competition:

  • Touch control feature to control volume and to advance tracks (like a touch screen on a smartphone, you swipe the right ear cup to control volume up and down and swipe back and forth to advance or rewind tracks.
  • Bluetooth connectivity – no wires required.
  • Headphones can also be used to make/take phone calls – the headphones have a jawbone sensor that helps improve quality of audio when using them for calls. I made a few calls with the headphones and call quality was comparable with other Bluetooth headsets that I have used.
  • Motion detection – move headphones off of ears and onto neck and the music pauses automatically – put them back on and the music starts again. Also works if you take them off completely and put them down – works like magic!
  • Active noise cancellation – 4 microphones are used to seek out and reduce noise.
  • Concert hall effects and equalizer feature – controlled via a free iPhone or Android App, it allows the user to customize sound – this feature is incredible because no matter your listening tastes, you will be able to customize the sound to your liking.
  • Updates – because the concert hall effects and equalizer effects are software driven, the headphones can be upgraded with improvements and enhancements.
  • Also included is a audio connecting cable, should you want to continue using the headphones after the battery runs out. However, once you are accustomed to the Ziks with the power on and audio features enabled, you will be highly disappointed with the audio performance when the power is off.
  • A standard USB cable is included for charging the battery. You cannot charge the battery outside of the headphones because the battery is a proprietary shape and they do not have an external charger.

Practical Use
I used the headphones on a recent 2 hour plane trip. They paired easily within seconds with my iPhone and iPad (can only pair to one device at a time). They functioned as intended and the automatic pausing of the music was a very convenient feature as it prevented the fumbling for control buttons. The touch pad feature was also very intuitive and made it easy to change tracks and increase/decrease the volume. Noise cancelling was excellent and served it’s purpose to isolate unwanted jet engine noise. I have tried Bose Quiet Comfort Headphones and the Bose Headphones have a slight edge on cancelling unwanted noise. Overall comfort was excellent although additional padding on the headband where it rests on your head would be welcome considering the headphones are heavier than most, if not all, comparable headphones available on the market today. There are many Bluetooth headsets that have much, much longer battery life. That said, if you are traveling and will not have access to a computer or USB port (you can only charge the headphones via USB) you will have difficulty and will likely need to bring a spare battery (not included) if you wish to extend the listening time. I was able to average around 3.5-4.5 hours per charge of heavy listening (loud).

I would say I have an average sized neck and the headphones rest comfortably on my neck when not in use. However, for those with particularly large necks the headphones will most likely feel tight and bothersome when on the neck and not in use. The solution for longer-term transport is to put the headphones in a case. Unfortunately, out-of-the-box, the headphones come with an inadequate cloth pouch. The pouch provides little protection and I would not feel comfortable putting the headphones in a bag or suitcase with the pouch alone. I resorted to purchasing a hard sided case online from China ($25, including shipping). I had some left over dense celled acoustic foam that I cut to fit the headphones, creating a custom insert that securely holds the headphones in the case with little to no movement The lack of options for hard-sided cases for these headphones is surprising. I suspect that the Parrot will offer a case for the Zik headphones in the future, albeit at an additional cost.

I’ve listened to countless different styles of audio/music on the headphones, including spoken word, instrumental, rock, rap, classical, acoustic, pop, hip-hop, jazz, country, and a-capella. I have yet to be disappointed with the audio performance of the Zik Headphones mainly because one can customize the audio using the Concert Hall Effects and Equalizer settings. For example, on bass heavy tracks you can reduce the lows to a comfortable level. Although some of the Zik settings on certain music tracks will “over digitize” or “over process” the audio, with some fine tuning you can find the sweet spot for ideal listening. I mentioned before that I am not an audiophile, but I did have a relative who is a professional music industry engineer and producer briefly use the headphones – he was impressed. The headphones are intended for the consumer audience and not necessarily the “audiophile” audience. Thus, I suspect upwards of 97% of non-audiophile users will be pleased with the audio performance and will not be able to discern frequency fall offs and digital over-writes to the extent that it effects listening enjoyment.

You can’t find a more feature packed high-tech set of noise cancelling Bluetooth headphones on the market today. Plus, the headphones are beautiful and well designed. If you can get over the high cost of the headphones and the lack of a protective case, then these headphones will not let you down.

Cases for the headphones are now available from Parrot on their online store for $39.99.