Dyson are a company who specialise in taking product design into interesting and innovative new places, and just one look at the Dyson Zone Headphones more than reiterates this.
There’s a good chance that by the time you read this, you will have already seen pictures of the Dyson Zone Headphones circulating the internet – and for good reason. Given their futuristic appearance and the fact that Dyson are the first company to combine the seemingly disparate worlds of air purification and high end consumer headphone, and all within their first foray into the audio market no less-it was inevitable that these were always going to cause a stir.
Dyson are a company who specialise in taking product design into interesting and innovative new places, and just one look at the Dyson Zone Headphones more than reiterates this. A large over ear headphone with what can only be described as a reflective, detachable mouthpiece – these immediately stand out, simply by virtue of there having never been a product like this available to the public before. Then again, until now, there has never really been a need for one.
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Designed to tackle the dual threats of noise pollution and air pollution that plague our increasingly urbanised environment, the Dyson Zone headphones are a wearable, multi-purpose solution to an unfortunate modern reality.
While that alone is worthy of praise, what probably isn’t as obvious at first glance is the lengths to which Dyson have gone at the R’n’D stage to ensure that the Zone is taken seriously as a legitimate audio product. Suffice to say, in terms of providing a stellar listening experience, I am happy to report that they have more than succeeded on this front.
One thing that jumps out immediately on first listen is the purity of output, particularly in regards to upper mids and diction. At 16 ohm, and boasting some of the lowest distortion properties out there for a headphone of this type (0.08% at 94 dB at 1 kHz), the clarity and precision on hand here is striking to say the least, a feat made even more impressive when we take into account the fact that the 40mm neodymium drivers are positioned in very close proximity to the Zone’s dual air compressors, which draw air through the double-layer filters and project two streams of purified air to the user’s nose and mouth.
While you might be forgiven for thinking that this could serve as an obvious compromise to general audio quality, rather, this is precisely where Dyson’s expertise as an industry leader in air purification comes to the fore. The state of the art motor is whisper quiet and the insane level of isolation afforded by the onboard active noise cancellation, along with the Zone having some of the best designed earcups on the market, work in cahoots to cleverly offset any potential mechanical noise that could affect the overall listening experience.
This aforementioned active noise cancelling is undoubtedly one of the Zone’s strong suits, and with a total of 11 microphones, 8 of which are used to reduce noise pollution by up to 38dB, the quality of the ANC system on display here is some of the best you’ll encounter in the consumer headphone space. These onboard mics also work in conjunction with the MyDyson app to monitor ambient sounds 384,000 times per second, simultaneously checking and amending surrounding noise levels in real-time.
In terms of audio quality, the 40mm neodymium drivers also provide some seriously impressive low end extension (all the way down to 6Hz) and the quality of these sub frequencies is particularly noticeable across classic sonic film tropes like depth charges and big budget explosions.
This ability to accommodate a broad range of program material is also evident in the breadth of the soundstage and the singularity and space afforded to instruments and objects in the stereo and immersive fields.
Dyson’s emphasis on providing minimal distortion at the drive stage also has the added upside of giving the Zone headphones some lightning fast dynamic recoil properties, with transient information being reproduced accurately and efficiently across the frequency spectrum. For those with a particular voicing preference for their everyday listening, the MyDyson app also offers Dyson EQ (‘enhanced’), Bass Boost and Neutral settings, as well as a built in limiter and real time air quality information to gauge ambient NO2 levels.
On the topic of the air purification system, this was perhaps one of the biggest surprises of all and one of the biggest takeaways from some time spent with the Dyson Zone.
As a civilian who has limited experience with air purification, I was legitimately taken aback at how instantly refreshed and energised it felt, breathing in this new and improved air.
If I was to liken the experience to anything, it would be like having a Vitamin B12 shot or an extra few hours of sleep. Ten minutes of listening/breathing and I felt like I had found my second wind. In that respect, I could definitely see myself running them during marathon late night drum and vocal editing sessions, tucked away in the comfort of the studio.
Now, Mixdown is an audio technology publication first and foremost, and in that regard the Dyson Zone more than qualifies, at least as it pertains to being a high quality headphone for everyday listening and general content consumption purposes. In terms of audio quality, the headphones themselves are a cut above what you would normally hear from your average consumer headphone product. Even the complimentary ‘Explorer’ hard case has more in common with something from the professional sector than it does your standard run of the mill headphone.
The headband, cup design and onboard features are all extremely well engineered and executed, particularly for a company so relatively new to the audio space. The advanced active noise cancellation, purity of voicing and the obvious health upside of the filtration apparatus all combine to make a set of headphones that are both enjoyable to listen to and successfully help to introduce the idea of wearable air filtration to a world that so definitely needs it.
For more info, visit Dyson.