A while back I reviewed the original Parrot Zikís wireless headphones. They were a good looking pair of cans that sounded much worse than they looked.
Now, Parrot has released a new version. While they look hasnít changed much, they promise improved sound quality.
I hate to be a cynic, but making them sound better is probably not a hard claim to make because there was so much room for improvement. Letís check them out:
Like the original Zikís, the 2.0 are beautifully designed. The metal has a beautiful satin finish on it while everything else is wrapped in buttery soft, beautifully grained leather.
Itís hard to explain but the Zikís look good because theyíre beautiful, not because they have a large flashy logo that others have told us makes it looks good.
Another way to put it is that the Zik 2.0 costs $430 CDN/$400 USD, and look every bit as expensive as its price tag.
Even simple details like the power button, cable connector and charging port are beautifully detailed. Instead of feeling like a bunch of pieces of plastic which have been snapped together, the Zikís feel like the innards were first cut from a solid piece of metal and then the rest of it was made to fit around it.
I love how the left ear has a cover which is attached by magnets. The magnets hold it very secure, I had no idea you could take the cover off until I read it in the manual and even then, it took me a few seconds to figure it out.
Underneath the cover is a proprietary 830mAh lithium ion battery. Some may complain that the Zik uses proprietary batteries but really, a pair of AAA isnít going fit without upsetting the design plus they lack the power density of lithium ion so the battery life would take a hit.
If you want to hard reset the Zikís, all you have to do is take the battery out for 10 seconds.
The right ear cover is where the controls are housed. The surface is touch sensitive; swipe up or down to adjust volume, tap to play/pause, swipe forward or backwards to switch songs.
In theory, touch sensitive controls are a great idea, however, in practice I thought they made the Zikís unpredictable when youíre adjusting them. While they do make the controls easier to find, personally I prefer dedicated buttons.
Itís also where the power button, headphone cable connector and MicroUSB charging port are. If you look closely thereís, also a microphone and a presence sensor on the cushioning.
The presence sensor allows the Zik to pause music playback when you take them off your head and play when you put them back on.
Itís a good idea in theory but in practice it doesnít work for everyone. My wife found that the headphones kept pausing even though she didnít take them off her head - I never figured out why this was happening but I think it has something to do with presence sensor.
I like how they charge via MicroUSB. This makes them very convenient to travel with since you donít need a special cable to charge them.
You can swivel each earpiece about 120 degrees so they can rest flat on your shoulders when you take them off
The headband is wonderfully padded and fits very well. When extending each earpiece, there are about 10 stops so that once you set them, they wonít creep out. Each stop has a very positive feel to it.
Fit is excellent, there are plenty of adjustments to fit every shape of head. I wear glasses too and they have no effect on the comfort.
Thereís enough padding to isolate my ears from the outside but not so much that they move around. Ditto for the headband which provides enough tension to fit securely without feeling like Iíve just put my head or ears in a vice.
While the fit is secure, you probably donít want to take these jogging. Remember the wonderful leather covered surfaces I mentioned earlier? While theyíre very tactile, they can get hot after a while so these might not be ideal if you live somewhere warm. Still, this happens with all leather surfaces, in that sense the Zikís are better than some like my AKG K845Tís which get hotter faster.
Included in the box are a 3.5mm extension cable, in case, you donít want to use them wirelessly, a MicroUSB cable and a soft carrying bag.
Aside from the slick design, another of the Zikís features is that it comes with its own app for iOS and Android. In case youíre wondering, it will work with just about any Bluetooth source so that means it will also work with Windows Phone, Windows PCís and Macs. You just wonít get access to the extra features the app brings.
The app has 4 main features:
- Battery life indicator
- Parrot Concert Hall Effect
- Noise cancellation control
- Artist Presets
Iíll be honest, while these features make the Zik more fun to use none of them are absolutely necessary since I preferred leaving the equalizer and concert hall effects off.
I guess being able to turn noise cancellation on and off is mildly useful since turning it off will extend battery life.
I havenít tried lots of noise reduction headphones and the ones I have tried/own arenít very high-end. With that in mind I thought the Zik 2.0ís were extremely effective at blocking out constant background noise. When you put them on, you feel like youíve entered a soundproof room. Itís really just you and the music.
While theyíre definitely bass boosted, I didnít find them boomy. It has a bad habit of sometimes making voices take a back seat to the beat.
If all you want is transparency, these arenít the headphones for you. That said, they don't sound half bad and while theyíre not really able to produce music faithfully, they definitely donít sound bad either.
Youíll get around 8hrs of listening from the Zikís.
The Zik 2.0ís support AAC music files when youíre using an iOS device. Normally, a phone will decompress a music file, compress it again using lossy compression, send it to your headphones and then your headphones will decompress it and play it back. Since lossy compression is used there is some loss in quality (whether the loss in quality can be detected is up for debate).
Since there is AAC support, the phone will stream the AAC file to the Zik 2.0ís which then compress them which should retain more sound quality.
This makes iOS the best match for the Zikís.
If youíre on Android (or a PC) you should known that there is no support for the APT-X. APT-X is a different lossy codec which is used when your phone compresses music to stream to the headphones.
I tried them with my Nexus 6 and LG G3 and had a lot of problems with the presence sensor. Every time I moved my head even slightly (I was sitting in front of my computer) theyíd pause. Downloading the app and disabling the presence sensor fixed this problem. In case you're wondering, that's why I have 2 colours; I wanted to double check that it wasn't just happening to the original unit.
The fact that the Zikís emphasizes itís equalizer and reverb settings suggest that itís not really meant for critical listening and thatís exactly what I found. Then again, while itís not particularly accurate, it still sounds pretty darn good. Most people will have a lot of fun with them.
As for the app, you donít have to use it to listen to the Zikís but theyíre the only way to adjust the settings.
The battery meter shows the charge level as a percentage. I dunno about you but it gave me some anxiety that the battery might die because Iím not used to my headphones giving me the charge with this level of granularity.
To be honest, the best thing about the Zik 2.0 is the style. Not only do they not scream, ďMy mom bought these for meĒ (not that thereís anything wrong with that), theyíre just plain beautiful.
Unlike the originals, the beauty isnít just skin deep. The 2.0ís audio chops are just enough that Iíd recommend them.
You get plenty of style and just enough sound quality that Iíd say the high price tag is justified.
3.5 Howies out of 5.
- Looks good
- Decent sound
- Presence sensor doesnít always work
- Touch sensitive controls can be unpredictable
- Presence sensor doesnít work reliably with Android