We’ve seen it at the beginning of the year at CES, and reported about its local availability in this very news piece just a short while ago, but today, we’ve finally gotten some hands-on time with the Parrot Zik wireless headphones.
Designed by Phillipe Starck and developed by Parrot, the Zik boasts some sleek aesthetics (e.g., metal alloys, ‘leather-like’ band), and incorporates a button-less, capacitive touch panel on the right earcup. Use your finger to swipe on it vertically to control the volume, and horizontally to jump to the next or previous track. To receive a phone call, just tap once; to reject, touch the panel for two seconds. We were told that because the controls are software-based, it’s entirely possible that more functionality be added via an firmware upgrade in the future.
Located in the earpiece foam is a head detection sensor. It’s basically a pressure detection sensor to detect when you’re wearing the headphones. So as soon as you remove the headphones, Zik pauses the music. Put them back on, and the playback continues. It’s pretty neat.
The Zik also does active noise control. Four microphones are used: two on the outside of the headset for capturing ambient noises, and one in each side of the headset for analyzing residual noises. The outside noise is then canceled out by opposite acoustic waves. Parrot claims that this patented active noise canceling technology reduces noise up to 25dB.
The Zik also touts quality voice calls via two technologies. There’s a bone conduction sensor that’s located in the cushion of the left earpiece that detects and analyzes jaw bone vibrations, and compares them to surrounding noise. This way, it’s able to extract the speech. Then, there’s a double microphone noise suppression system, whereby two microphones are used to determine the origin of the noise and eliminate it.
There’s also the Parrot Audio Suite, a free app for iOS or Android devices, which lets you monitor the battery life and further adjust your audio settings. Parrot is pretty proud of the Parrot Concert Hall effect, which allows you to adjust speaker angles (virtually, of course) to fine-tune the soundstage.
Finally, the Zik is compatible with mobile phones (as well as PCs) that accept Bluetooth audio transmission. The Zik will last about 6 hours with active noise cancellation turned on. If the battery conks out, you can still use the headphones via the 3.5mm analog line input. Remember though, without a power source, you can’t use the active noise canceling function. The Zik also supports NFC (the tag is built into the left speaker), so you can simply touch the left earpiece with your smart device for automatic Bluetooth pairing. We’ve been told that NFC-enabled Android devices running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean will work fine with the Zik.
Priced at S$580, the Parrot Zik is now available at the following stores: