Clean, eye-catching design; Capacitive touch panel; Quick and painless Bluetooth or NFC pairing; Free app enhances sound
Must use app to enable/disable active noise canceling ; NFC didn't work with certain phones; Disappointing cellphone audio
The Parrot Zik by Starck headphones are a beautiful marriage of design, wireless convenience and impressive audio quality.
They're wireless. They have touch-sensitive controls. And they look really, really sleek. They even come with an app. Those are just some of the things we love about the Parrot Zik by Starck, a $399 pair of headphones that screams state of the art. Read on to discover why the Ziks are a sound investment.
The tips of the headband are capped in silver matte aluminum alloy metal, as is a teardrop-shaped depression at the bottom. A single retractable alloy metal bar extends from each side of the headband to adjust the fit. The bar delicately curves in two places, creating depth and accentuating the large black ear cups. A tiny "by Starck" logo sits on the right side of the headphones, reminding listeners that this is the work of designer Philippe Starck.
At 11.4 ounces, the 7.8 x 5.9 x 3.14-inch headphones are on the chunky side. However, the Ziks felt rather light as we wore them. The foam in the earcups created an immediate seal that was not only comfortable, but helped shut out outside noise.
Bluetooth setup is pretty straightforward, taking between 3-4 seconds to pair the Ziks with our Samsung Galaxy S III. The process was just as speedy on the iPhone 5; after pairing, we heard a happy little chirp sound and we were good to go. We appreciate Parrot's focus on keeping things as simple as possible. By comparison, the SMS Audio Sync by 50 wireless headphones, which use Kleer technology to stream music, requires a dongle that must be plugged into a device's headphone jack. To be fair, though, Kleer lets up to four people listen to one source.
A sensor in the right side detects when listeners are no longer wearing the headphones and pauses the track. During our testing, we found that the music stopped and started less than a second after removing and replacing the Ziks from our head.
Having all those cool features is nice, but it's all moot if the sound doesn't measure up. Thankfully, the Parrot Ziks sound as good as they look. Lil Jon's "Snap Yo Fingers" was appropriately crunktastic, delivering heavy bass and crisp synthesized highs without drowning out the producer's raspy drawl. On Hall & Oates' "I Can't Go For That," harmonies were smooth, and the bass guitar and keyboard were clean. What both tracks shared was loud, clear balanced audio served up by the Ziks' two 40mm neodymium drivers.
By comparison, the SMS Audio Sync by 50 are definitely designed with a bass-junkie in mind. Our ears were buffeted by deep bass on "Snap Yo Fingers," and the synthesized highs sounded scratchy and blown out. The Hall & Oates track had a nice balance of highs and mids, but the lows were more pronounced than we would have liked.
Audio Suite App
Active Noise Cancellation
As soon as we cranked up the jams, it was like we were marching to the beat of our personal soundtrack. This feature really came in handy on the subway, as we blissfully drowned out an argument taking place on the platform. However, we wish Parrot included a physical button for enabling/disabling the feature, rather than forcing us to use the mobile app.
Audio on phone calls using the Parrot Ziks is a mere shadow of the rich, clear tones of the music listening experience. Despite the two directional microphones, the voice on the other line sounded floaty and hollow. We also heard echoing on a number of calls. Our caller reported that he could hear us, but said it sounded like we were talking with a pillow over our heads. The effect was even worse when active noise cancellation is engaged.
Bluetooth/ Battery Life
Similar to other Bluetooth devices on the market, the Ziks have approximately a 33-foot range. We were able to walk about 25 feet away before the sound cut out. With two walls between us and the source, though, the range dropped to about 12 feet.
Recharging the Ziks is as simple as plugging a microUSB cable into a computer or outlet. But in the off chance the battery dies before you reach your destination, Parrot made the wise decision to include a 3.5 mm headphone cable.
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|Accessories Type||Bluetooth Device|
|Battery Type/Life||800 mAH Lithuim-ion battery 6 hours (everything enabled)/12 hours Active Noise Cancelling|
|Size||7.8 x 5.9 x 3.14 inches|