Hey gang, Valkor here. Way back in TOV’s early review beginnings, one of the first companies to give us a shot in testing out their products was Parrot with their “Rhythm and Blues Hands Free Set”; this was an early Krush review and you could taste the newness of how we did things back then (2006 – sheesh!!). Well it’s been 11 years to the date and now Parrot is back with a Val-cave visit, showing off their wireless skillz with a shiny new headset – The Parrot Zik 2.0 Bluetooth Headphones. They’re looking pretty sharp… with a couple of hiccups.
I’m not familiar with the original Zik headphones, but the 2.0s, from the jump, are visually impressive; on the outset the ear cups and the headband are covered in soft faux leather and all three are well cushioned for comfort. The labeling on the cups is subtly etched into the aluminum handles, yet still very visible. On the right ear are your power button, 3.5mm port and microUSB port for charging the headset. The back panel of the left ear is magnetized and can easily be removed to reveal the housing for the Li-Ion 830 battery. Also in the box you get a tangle-free, cloth charging cable as well as a cable for a wired connection in case you’re not in a the wireless move. Using the cable also extends battery life, whereas using the Bluetooth would give you 6 - 7 hours plus playback, you could get up to 18 hours, maybe 20 with the cable.
The right earcup not only houses the power button and ports, but by touching/sliding your fingers along the side panel you’ll have access to the headphone’s touch feature allowing you to raise/lower the volume, change tracks, pause and answer a call. It took some time getting used to this type of control, especially when I wanted to skip a track because I’d usually end up pausing the song instead. But once I got the hang of it, the controls became a breeze (though I have some objections, which I’ll save for the breakdown). The right ear cup also contains an NFC chip for pairing the headphones with your preferred device and it also has a nifty feature when the headphones are removed – there’s a sensor that recognizes when you’re not wearing the Zik 2.0 and pauses your music, picking up where you left off when you put them back on (this feature caught me by surprise). Finally the Zik 2.0 uses active noise cancelling straight away when you turn them on; without audio your surrounding becomes muted but once they’re switched on then prepare yourself to be immersed in your music because ain’t nothing getting through.
The Parrot Zik 2.0 works in conjunction with an app and I should point out that the app mentioned in the instruction manual – Parrot Audio Suite, even after an install, removal and reinstall, didn’t work for me. However, I discovered I had to download the Parrot Zik 2.0 app (for both android and iOS), which worked like a charm. With the app you can play with the EQ settings so that you can tweak the audio to your liking. You can switch on/off features such as noise cancelling, the equalizer and effects (image below gives you an idea of my settings). There’s also a bunch of presets from various artist that you can download and enjoy; as soon as I downloaded the app, the DJ Jazzy Jeff preset was available, but you can also choose presets from La Roux, Cloud Nothing and Danton EEPROM among others.
Vs. Jabra Move – The Zik 2.0 is the definite winner when it comes to audio quality and design. The bass in the Zik 2.0s overshadow the Move with ease, but that’s mostly due to the ability to play with the settings. However the Move headphones aren’t a total wash as they use Bluetooth 4.0, while the Zik 2.0 uses 3.0, which allows The Move to connect better and stay connected, while the Zik 2.0 skips a lot – a lot!
I’ve run the gamut of testing with the Zik 2.0 – from Android, iOS devices and even the Playstation Vita got in on the action. And after running through all that, I’m ready to render my verdict in the TOV Breakdown!
I have to say I was pretty impressed with the Parrot Zik 2.0; design-wise, it’s definitely unique and clearly stands out amongst the more common, seen in the wild Beats or even Bose headphones. As far as comfort is concerned, it could use a few extra notches to reduce tightness for my noggin, otherwise, they wear comfortably and even after a couple hours during my initial testing, they didn’t feel heavy or uncomfortable. Audio quality with the Zik 2.0 was clean, crisp and working alongside the app produced some amazing beats – especially with the Nexus 6, which has a volume on the low side even at its highest level. Once I got the EQ settings to my preference, I was quite pleased with the headphone’s performance. I adjusted the bass to my liking, which was rich but not too thick – I want it pumping but I don’t want it overdone that it drowns out the vocals. And with the effects I toned it back from concert to jazz hall, which creates a wide sound effect – but not too wide, plus I can still pick up different instruments while getting clean vocals. The noise cancelling gets a nod because once the music kicks in everything else is nicely drowned out, placing you within your own audio bubble of solitude. A HUGE plus goes to the touch options on the earcups, which saves me the trouble of having to reach in my bag to retrieve my phone to change songs or answer a call; with just a swipe, I get to continue my commute and groove on without worry of either dropping my device or maybe, possibly a “snatch and run”. In the end, the cost of the Parrot Zik 2.0 might run you back a few hundred bucks, but the overall quality and features makes it all worth it.
In terms of the Bluetooth, I was expecting a few hiccups but the sputters the Zik 2.0 produced were comparable to the early days of portable CD players when you attempted to walk with one. I wouldn’t say it’s THAT bad and for the most part playback was smooth. But I’m assuming it’s due to the 3.0 connection that causes this because I didn’t have such an experience with the Altec Lansing Life Jacket or the Jabra Move; the skipping with the Zik 2.0 ranges from one or two missed beats to skipping through an entire song. I thought maybe it was interference from all the devices I have in the cave, but the same sputtering was reproduced outdoors as well. Plus the effect was repeated over a number of devices. Could I have a defective unit? Finally, when it comes to the touch option on the earcups, it really does takes some getting used to and you’ll end up pressing the pause button more than anything else. Also the power button is in close proximity and it’s quite sensitive, so you might end up hitting that a few times as well.
In the end, the Parrot Zik 2.0 Bluetooth Headphones is one of the best I’ve experienced here in the cave; with a stylish design, amazing sound quality and a host of awesome features, makes these headphones a worthy addition to your audio repertoire. Sure I have some issues, and they do weigh heavy; but I’d still recommend the Parrot Zik 2.0, which gets a strong 4 out of TOV 5 stars.