Parrot certainly has tried to pack as much technology as possible into its first pair of wireless headphones. Alongside the standard Bluetooth connectivity, the company’s new Zik headphones feature active noise cancellation technology, a touch panel on the right earpiece, a head detection sensor, bone conduction sensor, five microphones and, in a headphone first, integrated near field communication (NFC) technology.
Like Parrot’s Zikmu wireless speaker system, the Zik headphones were designed by French designer Philippe Starck. The entire surface of the right ear cup is a capacitive touch panel that allows the wearer to swipe a finger horizontally to skip forward and back between tracks, swipe up or down to adjust the volume, tap to answer a phone call, or touch the panel for two seconds to reject a call. Additionally, sliding the headphones down around your neck will pause music playback and put the headphones in standby mode, donning them again will start them up again.
When listening to music or talking on the phone, two microphones located on the exterior of the headphones and two inside each headset analyze the ambient noise so the headphones can produce opposite acoustic waves to block it out. Parrot says this active noise canceling (ACN) technology allows the headphones to eliminate up to 25 db of ambient noise.
The headphones are also designed to make it easier for the person on the other end of the line to hear the wearer better, with a bone conduction sensor located in the cushion of the left earpiece detecting the wearer’s jaw movements and matching these movements to the speech so it can be separated from the surrounding noise.
The Zik headphones are also the first on the market with NFC technology, with a tag in the left headset allowing Bluetooth pairing with NFC compatible devices by touching them to the left ear cup.
The Zik’s 40 mm Neodynium drivers are rated at 32 ohms and pump out a frequency range of 10 Hz to 20 kHz with a sound pressure level of 110 dB per volt at 1 kHz. Parrot including a DSP algorithm dubbed “Parrot Concert Hall” that promises to recreate a concert hall listening experience and place the music in front of you. This effect can also be customized via the free “Parrot Audi Suite” app available for iOS and Android, which is also used to turn the CAN on and off, modify the equalizer and check the battery level.
The downside of all this technological wizardry is the hit it inflicts on battery life. The Zik’s 800 mAh lithium ion battery, which is recharged via microUSB, will provide power for around six hours with all features activated, around 18 hours with only ANC activated, and up to 24 hours in standby mode. However, the battery is swappable, with Parrot selling spares for US$30. The headphones can also be used when the battery is flat via an included 3.5 mm jack cable.
The Zik headphones measure 150 mm (5.9 in) wide by 198 mm (7.8 in) deep by 80 mm (3.1 in) deep and weighs 325 g (11.5 oz). They will be available from late July/August for US$399 in the U.S., GBP349 in the U.K. and AUD$499 in Australia.