New Parrot headphones offer ears a taste of the future

Active noise cancelling technology hasn’t really been something you find in full-size wireless headphones, but French innovators Parrot hope to change that with a new pair of cans aimed at cutting the background noise out of any situation.

Created by the company that designed and engineered the Drone quad-copter, Parrot’s Zik headphones combine a patented noise cancellation technology with bone conduction, head detection, a capacitive touch panel, Bluetooth, and Near-Field Communication. With this much tech, it’s like equipping your ears with the future.

“Innovation is at the heard of everything we do,” said Parrot Australia’s Managing Director, Chris Roberts. “The consumer shouldn’t have to have a product that’s exactly the same as the person sitting next to them.”

The specs on here are certainly impressive, but how the headphones aim to use it is also interesting.

Parrot’s patented noise cancellation technology takes advantage of five microphones – three on the outside of the cans, one on the inside of each can – to silence up to 25dB of ambient noise or the drone of engines. Digital Signal Processing aims to improve what’s on offer with an iOS and Android app that can make the headphones emulate the sound of a concert hall, pushing the musical soundscape in front of you if desired.

Wireless is the name of the game with this tech, with Bluetooth used and NFC for pairing (if your device supports it), but there is a 3.5mm headset cable if you prefer to plug directly in.

Controlling the headphone is handled through a capacitive panel on the right headphone, where you can change volume by swiping up and down, or change track by swiping left and right.

There’s also bone conduction technology in there for analysing jawbone vibrations when talking on the phone and improving the volume of what you’re saying, as well as a head sensor which can switch the headphones to standby if you pull them off and sit them around your neck, allowing you to talk on the phone with the handset to your ear.

“Why should you have a product full of technology with poor design?” Mr. Roberts said this week at the Parrot Zik launch. “We wanted to create multimedia products that became timeless.”

To accomplish this, Parrot teamed up with world-renowned French designer Philippe Starck, the same person responsible for Parrot’s Zikmu speakers released last year.

“Sound, and consequently music, are just a search of one’s own world,” said Philippe Starck. “The more the sound is close to you, the more you’ll like the music and feel comfortable. The headphones are perfectly balanced and almost seem fused, looking like a mere extension of the human body and all its needs.”

Philippe Starck with his Zik headphones.

From our brief look today, Parrot’s Zik headphones remind us slightly of a pair B&W released a couple of years ago.

That said, while we know the technology will be very different, Parrot has come up with a price that edges into Bowers & Wilkins territory, with a $499 RRP when the headphones land next month.