Home Reviews Entertainmnent Gadgets Is that a Parrot (Zik) on your shoulder?

In a world of garish, colourful, plastic, cans the Philippe Starck designed Parrot Zik stands out as refined, sublime and drop dead sexy (just like Michelle Pfeiffer - know what I mean). I don’t even care if they work all that well (but they do)!

The black leather, matt finish, stainless steel and black trim is timeless – it will still be a classic a hundred years from now. The quality workmanship and materials should endure just as long.

OK time to stop fantasising and down to business.

Parrot Zik  is a premium, active noise cancelling headset that uses either Bluetooth (NFC pairing) or a standard 3.5mm audio cable to listen to music or make and receive a mobile phone call from your smartphone.

The innovative design extends to the touch control. Adjust the volume – swipe up or down. Change the track – swipe forward or back. Pause the music - slip it down around your neck. Start the music - put it back on your head. Take a phone call – tap in the centre. All very easy and intuitive.

It incorporates active noise cancelling (ANC) using a Digital Signal Processor (DSP) that generates ‘anti-noise’ to eliminate up to 25dB of background ambient noise. This is very, very good.

The four microphones (two more than its main competitors) located inside and outside each earpiece as well as a bone conductor sensor in the ear pad do a superb job of reproducing your voice during phone calls or when chatting to the airline attendant.

iOS and Android users can also download the free Parrot Audio Suite, which helps adjust the DSP. You can get various effects like concert hall, jazz club, living room, or silent room. A seven band equaliser (centre frequencies of 60 Hz, 150 Hz, 400 Hz, 1 kHz, 2.4 kHz, 6 kHz and 15 kHz) has pre-sets (Flat, Pop, Club, Punchy, Deep, Crystal, User). Once set to your preferences you don’t need to use the suite again.

For audiophiles

  • 40mm Neodymium drivers
  • Sound pressure level: 110 dB per volt to 1kHz
  • Impedance: 32 Ohms
  • Powerful DSP algorithms
  • Built-in NFC technology
  • Frequency response: 10Hz – 20kHz
  • Capacitive touch panel
  • Bluetooth 2.1
  • Hands free function
  • USB updateable firmware
  • Alloy head rails
  • Battery life:
    -          With Bluetooth and ANC activated: 6 hours (tested)
    -          ANC only: 18 hours
    -          On standby mode: 24 hours
  • Weight: 325g
  • Folds flat to fit in soft carry case provided.

In a few days of use, I could not fault it.

  • Yes, it is a little heavier than the garish plastic cans but it suits the pointy end of the plane very well.
  • Good acoustic insulation (keeps sound out) and effective active noise cancellation
  • Works while recharging (the microUSB cable is a bit short).
  • The choice of pre-sets cover most tastes including heavy rock.

The only small issues:

  • Omission of a two or 3-pin airline jack but these are relatively easy to buy as an after-market product.
  • No external battery charger (the magnetic battery cover is really easy to remove)
  • An in-line remote would have been nice too but as these differ for iPad and Android, we can live with using the phone/pod controls for now.
  • No battery gauge (part of the Audio suite)
  • You need to buy a USB/mains powered Bluetooth transmitter (not a receiver) if you want to use these with an AV receiver/amplifier/Blu-ray. The majority of these are no-name junk that I would not buy - or you can use a long 3.5mm cable.

Price: RRP $499 from Apple Stores and Myer or from Parrot’s on-line store.  You can find them for less on-line (take care that these may be parallel imported and not carry local warranty). Extra battery $49.99.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!