Parrot Zik 3
- Pros: Shovel features (Bluetooth, ANC, touch controls …) add to a clearly elegant design and sound performance is very good. Special mention for the particularly complete mobile application.
- Cons: The price of this new version always remains high, especially in the absence of a real protective case. The autonomy is still a bit just in spite of the efforts of Parrot, as well as the comfort during the long sessions of use.
- In short: The Zik 3 may not yet be the best Bluetooth noise canceling headphone, but we seem to approach it version after version. With these very many features, effective and intuitive, the headset clearly distinguishes itself from the competition.
- Circum-Aural Bluetooth Headset
- Active Noise Canceling (5 modes)
- Touch controls on earphones
- Complete Mobile Application
- Wired connection in 3.5mm or USB on PC / Mac
- Autonomy from 8 hours to 18 hours
Parrot Zik 3 Review
Two years after the excellent Parrot Zik 2.0, the famous French manufacturer returns to the market of Bluetooth headsets with the third generation of its flagship model. On the program, no major revolutions, but small developments that should allow it, in theory, to remain positioned among the best models of the year.
We find a design very similar to that of the second generation, always drawn by Strark, as well as a usual lot of features. Wireless connection, active noise reduction, tactile controls, mobile application … Everything happens, and it is the slightest thing for a headphone offered for its price.
However, the changes this third version brought justify such a tariff, especially when it is now possible to find the Zik 2.0 at a lower price? Answer in the rest of our article after two good weeks of use.
The Parrot Zik 3 is offered in an elegant box with the image of his headphone on it. The whole front part is built in a transparent plastic, clearly emphasizing the product giving us a direct view on it. At first glance, the latter seems to be very close in terms of look than the previous model.
On the back side of the packaging, there is a detail of the various features offered by the Zik 3. The latter keeps the many options that have made it successful, including particularly intuitive tactile controls, effective noise canceling as well as an application Mobile phone.
All in all, however, the whole is still well presented and breathes rather quality, as on previous versions of the Parrot Zik.
Design & Ergonomics
As explained above, the Zik 3 takes again a construction very close to the second version. We thus always find this design relatively atypical, allowing to recognize it from a simple look among the many current models. It is obviously a circum-aural headphone, whose atria will be positioned around the ears to encompass them integrally.
The main lines are preserved, with always this aluminum arch with a curvature so special, covered on its upper by a padded area. A leather cover protects everything, with the Parrot logo embedded on the top of it. On our version, the headband and headphones feature a “stitching” pattern, but others are also available, like a “crocodile” model for fans of the genre.
In addition to the style of the bow that everyone will judge to their taste or not, it is especially their comfort that interests us here. First of all, as on previous versions, it is a notched arch, and it can therefore be adjusted easily according to the morphology of each. However, on the Zik 2.0 some users complained of a margin of maneuver a little too restricted for the big heads, and the problem seems here regulated on the Parrot Zik 3 with the addition of an extra notch.
But is comfort improved? Not really to our taste, since the padding remains relatively light at the level of the arch, exerting a pressure too much on the top of the skull after a few hours of use. The headphone is not painful in itself, but for the price one would have wished a padding a little more neat, like the Sony MDR-1A for example.
Other small flat, the curvature of the arch is clearly a bit strange, not necessarily marrying the shape of the skull as you can see in the picture above. In practice, it’s honestly not super nice, but at least everyone should be able to adjust it to its size. The Parrot Zik 3 holds perfectly in place and does not flinch even in sharp movements.
At the end of the arch, we find the two large atria of the Zik. They take the same form as the Zik 2.0, with a slightly oval design and much thinner than the first generation of the brand’s Bluetooth headset. They can be rotated 90 ° outwards to facilitate the flat storage of the helmet, but also on a horizontal axis to adjust to the morphology of each.
The shell of the left atrium is removable and allows to position the battery of the Zik 3. In the idea, one will be able to invest in an additional battery in order to be sure never to be over juice, rather a good thing. There is once again a “Parrot” marking on the outside.
On the right atrium, there are the various tactile controls of the helmet, which have strongly contributed to the renown of the range. In practice, the sound volume is managed by sliding the finger up or down the hull, moving from one track to the other to the right or the left and adjusting the play / pause of a simple pressure. The controls are particularly reactive (sometimes a little too) and very intuitive to take in hand. If we fight a little the first three minutes, we quickly understand the principle and a beep sound confirms the different actions.
Note also that the noise reduction or equalizer options cannot be managed from the headset, and that you will need to go through the dedicated mobile application. All the details a little further down in the article.
The Parrot Zik 3 connector is also on the right side, including a 3.5mm connector to connect your wired devices (or if you want to save your battery), a micro-USB connector for recharging (but can also be wired with a laptop) and a power button with a small LED.
Regarding comfort, no difference compared to Zik 2.0. The third generation still uses rather thick pads, featuring a memory foam. They are covered with a leatherette and are rather pleasant once around the ears. Unlike the arch, the pressure is well distributed between the temples and the top of the jaw, in order to obtain an excellent comfort. Beware, however, of big ears, which may feel slightly cramped inside the pads.
By removing the headphones, it is possible to wear it around the neck, but as often, the ear cups do not pivot in the correct way in our opinion. Indeed, flat, it is the outer shells and not the pads that come to rest on the clavicles, which does not offer a really optimal comfort. The heads will therefore be kept in their standard position, although this is not necessarily the ideal, especially for the makeup of ladies.
As with the previous generation, the Parrot Zik 3 has its motion sensor. It is also much more powerful and allows you to automatically pause your music when you remove the earbuds from your ears and vice versa when it is replaced (with a fading effect to preserve your eardrums). An idea that we find since on other products, notably on the excellent Plantronics BackBeat Pro and BackBeat Sense. For this new version, the sensor has been improved and the small problems have been corrected. Thus, the headphone no longer automatically pauses when yawning or when eating with the latter on the ears.
Last item concerning the look of the product, its transport pouch. Unlike some competitors (Bose, to name but a few), the Parrot Zik 3 does not come with a hard case, but only a small cloth pouch. If the latter can protect the headphone from any scratches in your bag, we still remain on our hunger for a product of such high price. Clearly, it will be necessary to pass again to the cash to protect effectively the Zik, damage.
All in all, the design of the Parrot Zik 3 is still more than convincing. Its look is clearly a great success, and everyone should be able to find headphone in their ears thanking to the different colors now proposed. The comfort is still very good, but not yet perfect on the extended listening, while the controls are always as pleasant and intuitive.
Parrot Zik features and application
If there is a part on which the Zik 3 stands out from the competition, it is obviously the features. Packed with technologies, the third generation Bluetooth headset from Parrot is getting closer to perfection in terms of additional options.
First of all in terms of connectivity, since the third generation offers the possibility of connecting, of course, the headset in Bluetooth or wired (via 3.5mm) but now also directly via USB. This new addition makes it very easy to plug the headset into the laptop or desktop to enjoy music or movies while recharging the battery. It only needs one Bluetooth dongle in its box to be perfect on that side, maybe on a version 4?
Then, it is obviously on the mobile application side that the Zik 3 makes the difference with other headphones market. As with previous versions, it is possible to download the free version from the Apple Store or Google Play in order to access more settings of the headset. The application is quickly indispensable if you want to take full advantage of your headset, so, for now, we will only advise you to wait a little longer if you have a Windows Phone, Is not yet available on the platform.
As explained above, the application allows managing many parameters of the Zik 3, which does not offer dedicated commands directly on its headsets. These options are arranged on several pages and tabs, and the whole is really intuitive to use.
On the main page, a large circle allows obtaining a detail concerning the remaining autonomy of the helmet. Below, three buttons allow you to quickly activate the main features of the product, namely noise control, equalizer and sound stage. You can then switch from one window to another via a swipe on the screen.
The second page deals with noise control (include “noise reduction”). Here, a simple finger slip can be isolated from the outside world, or on the contrary opt for Street Mode, letting some of the surrounding noise filter out. This option, as the name suggests, is particularly useful in the street since it is then possible to remain attentive to the sounds of cars, buses or even SNCF announcements when in town. A total of 5 levels are listed: Maximum Noise Reduction, Standard Noise Reduction, Passive Isolation, Street Mode and Maximum Street Mode.
Also from this window, you can also activate the “Auto” mode to automatically adjust the noise reduction according to the environment. Thus, the latter will be increased in the subway, but decreased to calmness when you don’t do anything and stay calm. It is also possible to display a “noise map”, although to be honest we are still quite skeptical about the usefulness of the latter.
The next page concerns the equalizer of the Zik 3. The use is greatly simplified compared to the classic equalizers, here the presence of a circle on which we find the following styles: Pop, Vocal, Crystal, Club, Punchy And Deep. It is then enough to move a cursor to the style of its choice to adapt the listening to its piece and its taste. In other words, lovers of big basses will move the cursor rather towards “Deep”, whereas we will naturally move towards “Vocal” to watch a film for example. The use is really intuitive and the differences between the choices clearly discernible.
It is also possible to access a “Producer Mode”, allowing to display a more classical equalizer on 5 bands, which can then be automatically assigned to certain albums or artists. It is even possible to download already preset “presets” for certain artists, offered by Parrot or other users.
On the third page, the “Concert Hall” option can be configured. You can manage the sound specialization by selecting the sound stage (Silent Room, Living Room, Jazz Club or Concert Hall), but also the angle of diffusion from 30 ° to 180 °.
On the left side of the screen, it is also possible to bring up a menu that automatically returns to certain pages of the application. Most of the time, the “Airplane” mode is used to disable the Bluetooth connection and tactile controls to improve the autonomy during long journeys (Parrot announces 18 hours of music in this mode).
From the “Settings” tab, you can update the Parrot Zik 3 software and also configure several options of the headset. For example, you can choose your name, whether you want to activate the motion sensor or not, choose a length of time before switching off automatically, or change the language of voice announcements.
You will understand, difficult to make more complete than the mobile application proposed by Parrot. True knife-thigh, it is an integral part of the Parrot Zik 3 and is essential to use the product perfectly. If the options are numerous and very easy to use, some may regret the impossibility to manage the ANC directly from the headphone.
In the vast majority of cases, helmets with active noise reduction offer different sound qualities depending on their use. In other words, the Parrot Zik 3 is unlikely to be used in a passive (wired, no noise reduction) or active (with noise reduction) mode.
In passive use, it is clear that the sound proposed by the Zik clearly lacks energy. The different frequencies seem to quickly overlap and finally offer a rather dull and flat sound. Fortunately, in 95% of cases, the headphone will be used actively, and here we must admit that the Zik shows us a completely different image of itself.
Once the headphones are switched on, the electronics of the new Zik 3 are also switched on and the sound quality is greatly improved. Exit the flat and morose sound of passive listening, here the sound scene clearly gains in dynamism, with a much more striking depth and better managed frequencies, more homogeneous.
By default, the bass is present but does not override other frequencies, just like some competitors. The mediums are perfectly clear and well-defined, with a clear emphasis on the vocal parts in relation to the instruments. All this can obviously be refined via the equalizer that was presented a little higher.
Overall, the Zik 3 slightly improves the sound performance of the Zik 2.0, which were already more than satisfactory for a Bluetooth headset. Obviously, everything is perhaps not yet perfect but the overall rendering is clearly good, precise and dynamic.
Regarding noise reduction, the latter is clearly significant in its “Reduction Max” mode and allows to eliminate a large part of the surrounding noise. If you have never had the opportunity to test this feature, you may be surprised at the first use!
During a journey of several hours by TGV, the functionality proved particularly effective and clearly allows to isolate itself from the noise of the wagons and other children present in the train, a real happiness. Of course, the reduction is not yet as effective as the Bose QC25, a true master in this matter, but the engineers of Parrot have clearly done a good job on this side, especially since the large cushions also offer Good passive insulation.
Another good point compared to the previous version, the breath often present on ANC headphones, is here almost inaudible and it is therefore possible to get quiet without necessarily listening to music.
By using Street Fashion, we continue to enjoy his music while remaining attentive to the outside world. This mode is particularly useful when you use the Parrot Zik 3 to make phone calls, since it is then possible to better gauge the volume of your own voice. Speaking of calls, it is necessary to emphasize the good behavior of the microphones arranged on the headphone, allowing an excellent audio quality even in the environments relatively noisy, with a voice that remains clear and audible.
Parrot announces an 8-hour battery life with Bluetooth and ANC (Noise Reduction) enabled. In practice, this figure seems to be respected and is fairly correct in relation to competition. However, this may still be a little weak for regular users, keeping the headphone on the ears e.g one hour morning and evening in public transport.
In aircraft mode, it is possible to reach 18 hours of autonomy as explained above. Also note that for this new generation, the Parrot Zik 3 can be recharged via a Qi wireless charging station. Unfortunately we did not have the opportunity to test the functionality, but we hope that users will be able to make a return on the latter.
With its many features, the new Parrot Zik 3 will remain one of the best Bluetooth headphones on the market. At the moment, very few products offer a wireless connection, active noise canceling, touch controls or a complete dedicated application. For all that, everything is not yet perfect and the last generation Zik still suffers from some problems of comfort over time. The autonomy is also limited and the bundle clearly lacks a rigid case.
The headphones nevertheless remain an excellent product, offering an ever more intuitive use and sound performances more than correct. Now the question of price, because of such high price the Zik 3 is far from given, especially against the Plantronics BackBeat Pro or simply to version 2.0, which is becoming more and more affordable.