Product Review: Parrot Zik 3 Headphones

Parrot Zik 3 Headphones

There is, of course, a huge temptation upon seeing the gorgeous Parrot Zik 3 headphones to ask the obvious question: Who’s a pretty boy, then? But we here at the Tech Blog would never stoop so low. Obviously. So, er, moving on…

For those who’ve not heard of Parrot up until now, the Paris-based company is a manufacturer of drones (the flying things!) and car sat-nav systems, amongst other things, and moved into the headphone market a few years back with the original Zik, now in its third iteration. They’re a pretty special pair of ‘phones for a number of reasons, offering some incredible tech and a lustrous design for a relative newcomer.

Starting at the shallow end and taking a look at their eye-catching aesthetics, it’s clear to see that Parrot wanted something that would set them apart from the competition. With the industrial design coming from legendary designer, Philippe Starck, these certainly stand out in a crowd. The cups and headband are upholstered in leather that has a quilted effect, and coupled with the curved, steel frame, the headphones have a look of luxury that’s sometimes missing in the category. As with any design, not everyone is going to be a fan, but it’d be hard to knock the Zik’s for effort, and they certainly ooze premium appeal.

Such a stylish headphone must surely include Bluetooth connectivity, and Parrot haven’t let the side down. Not only are they Bluetooth, they’re noise-cancelling, too. Bluetooth is obviously very handy for those wanting to ditch the cables whilst on the go, making things less hassle when moving around a lot. But the noise-cancelling is the really impressive feat here, with Parrot providing a partnering app for Android and iDevices, allowing the user to select the strength of the noise-cancelling depending on the surrounding volume in the area! This is fantastic as a way to isolate less in areas with lighter traffic and vice versa.

The app’s brilliance doesn’t stop there, though! The Zik has a number of different sound ‘spatializers’, letting the user pick from a number of room types, changing the music’s sound. A standard equaliser is also included, and the Zik is even able to recreate 5.1 surround sound via a setting in the app! It’s all very impressive from a technology point of view, really showing off what is possible for manufacturers to achieve now and in the future.

Zik 3 headphones

Charging is done through a micro-USB socket underneath one of the cups, but a wireless ‘puck’ is provided which can be sat underneath the headphone, allowing charging to be done without any cabling. A cable is provided for charging, for powering the puck and also to connect the Zik directly to phones or tablets if Bluetooth is not an option.

Continuing the futuristic technology angle, the right-hand cup of the headphone has a touch panel inside, letting you change volume and skip tracks with the swipe of a finger! Playback also stops by default when the headphones are removed from the head, stopping the battery from draining unnecessarily. Honestly, these guys have thought of everything!

All this technology wizardry can’t detract from the fact that these Zik 3s face some serious competition in the sound quality stakes at their price point. This is Sennheiser, AKG and Grado territory (amongst others), and whilst other brands may not have all of the extras of the Parrot’s, not everyone will care for these bells and whistles, focusing solely on sound quality when picking a headphone – fair enough, really!

Fortunately, the Zik 3 gave a great showing of themselves. Identikit from Radiohead’s latest album, A Moon Shaped Pool, sounded great, with a solid impact felt from the lower frequencies and good separation of the individual strands of the song. Closed back headphones tend to struggle with sound staging in comparison to their open-back siblings, but the Ziks performed nicely here. Switching to something that required even more detail retrieval failed to trip the Ziks up, with the latest work from Mancunian IDM kings, Autechre, the Parrots were able to comfortably keep up with the organised chaos on show. Okay, this wasn’t staggering detail retrieval, it wasn’t mind-blowing depth and clarity, but it was certainly very, very good in comparison to like-minded products, both Bluetooth and not. These kept a smile on every face whose head they were attached to, and that’s always a good sign! Various genres showed them to be capable of working indiscriminately, with nothing left behind by their sonic signature. Their deep and plentiful bass favoured similarly tuned material to some degree, but it didn’t get in the way during the quieter Classical pieces that we listened to. And there’s always the many equaliser settings for those that do prefer things one way over another, all ready to tweak through the app.

Zik 3

With noise-cancelling set to maximum, isolation was superb, almost eerie in its ability to mute outside sounds. Set to ‘Street’ level, the Parrots allowed just enough sound through to keep things safe on a city centre walk. Again, having these options available to chop and change on the fly was a huge plus point. That being said, the sheer range of options and settings available to tinker with in the app can be slightly daunting, and for the most part, we found that leaving most things in default position gave more than acceptable results. But the fact that these headphones are capable of taking advantage of such technology is hugely impressive.

Anyone looking for an everyday headphone that can be tailored to fit all ears would be very much recommended to have a listen to the Zik 3s. Their brilliant sound quality, wealth of features and super stylish design mark them out as something very special indeed.

To check out our full range of headphones visit your local store!

To find out more about the Parrot ZIK 3 headphones, click here.

Author – Chris, Liverpool store