Undoubtedly headphones have been one of the greatest invention for music lovers on the go. No longer do you have to worry about the judgement of passers by as you listen to
Justin Bieber (what just me) [I realise in hindsight, it’s never good to joke about liking Justin Bieber, I hope you forgive me.] your favorite band. And, with the exception of those people who blast out music from their poor quality mobile phone speakers, headphones are an essential piece of kit.
Just last year Apple radically update the standard headphones they provide with the iPhone to Apple earpods, using a different design to improve comfort and the sound quality. However for some people this type of headphones just aren’t right.
There can be hundreds of reasons for the person’s individual taste and lots of axis such as.
- Wired vs wireless
- Battery powered vs non.
- Artificially enhanced sound vs pure sound
- In ear vs on ear vs over ear
- And of course the cost
This was the dilemma I faced at the start of the summer as I went on my search for the perfect headphones for me. After searching and considering what the experience would be like of several different variants I came across what appeared to be the perfect headphones, parrot zik.
These headphones certainly aren’t the best audio quality and they have a couple of other downsides which really could be avoided. However, they provide the best functional user experience and look so much better than those cheap plastic Beats that have become so popular.
Let me tell you why they are so great
One of the annoying features from using wired headphones is that if you keep the wire in your trouser pocket it bends, damaging the wire and causing irritation to you. Making the move to wireless headphones was something that really appealed for the very reason that I wouldn’t have these issues when using my headphones. The change over meant that I could easily bend down to tie my shoe laces without worrying about the wire, I could chuck my phone into my bag and still hear the audio. they became something I didn’t have to think about.
Tied into the wireless feature are the touch controls freeing you further from having to take your phone out of you pocket.On the right earpiece there is a touch sensor which contains all your typical controls. If the touch from the bottom to the top it raises the volume, if you go from top to bottom it lowers the volume and if you press on the earpiece it will pause the audio track. In addition to the family favorites when you swipe from back to front it skips the track forward and from right to left makes it go back a track. Truly freeing you from using your phone as the control.
There are four microphones in the earpieces which cancel out surrounding noise up to 5dbs. Enough to not be disturbed by the noises around you. In fact, using it when you aren’t listening to anything can be great too just to reduce the noise around you. it’s not silent but it makes a big difference. If you don’t like it you can easily turn it off with the mobile app.
Free Mobile Apps
Along with the headphones they also provide a mobile app that links with the headset. The app can tell you our battery levels, turn on and off the noise canceling and also change the equalizer and reverb settings. There’s also an android version for whatever device you use it on.
Intelligence Built In
Perhaps the best feature that sets these headphones apart from all others is they stop playing when you remove them from your head. They do this due to the pressure sensors in the headset that detect whether they are on your head or not. When they are taken off they stop playing, put them back on and they start again. This was one of the key features that set them apart for me, the fact that you don’t have to think about pausing them if you bump into a friend, you can just lift them off your head and know you won’t miss a word
Due to the built in microphones, for noise canceling, these headphones can also take phone calls. All you have to do is tap the right earpiece when you get a call and you can talk . If you want to reject a call then just swipe on the earpiece. My results have been mixed, whenever someone has called me they’ve been able to hear me. However, they have commented that they can hear more background noise, which makes sense as the microphones are positioned to listen for the surrounding noise.
It’s not all perfect though, there are some downsides with the parrot ziks and they do impact the experience with the device so they are by no means perfect and these downsides may well convince you they aren’t the right fit for you.
Wireless comes at a cost, one of the chief ones is they are battery powered and you have to recharge your battery roughly every 4 hours of use. Long travel is a big no no. When you add on that using bluetooth (Second generation at that and not more recent low energy versions) drains your precious phone battery as well you need to carry a backup battery for long journeys. However, I find that using them as I go for a walk and listen to a podcast or some music isn’t a big drain on my battery power. For longer journeys I take an audio cord that came with the headphone which makes them function with or without power.
However, one of the killer disadvantages is the battery is a custom battery that doesn’t have a separate charger. You can’t pick up a spare and charge it in a dock while you use the headphone, you have to have the battery plugged in to a USB port to charge. Effectively meaning you have to plan your charging and listening cycles not to coincide
The sound quality
Sorry to break it to you but wireless sound is never going to be as good as wired sounds (at least to an audiophile.) the process of digitising the music is going to cause some degradation. However, the Ziks are certainly a step up in audio quality from your average pair of out of the box headphones and if you listen to MP3s you are already sacrificing audio quality. I accepted the compromises here because, for me, the experience of wireless and easy to use headphone was worth the sacrifice.
If you have the opportunity to and are looking for some new headphones (even if you’re not), I really recommend you check out Parrot Zik headphones, they might not have the best audio but the way they function is second to non.