Parrot Zik 3.0 review: Swanky, feature-packed Bluetooth headphone gets upgraded

Parrot has made some small but significant upgrades to its Zik 3 earphones, making them one of the best choices for those looking for wireless earphones with active noise cancellation.Parrot’s Zik 3 Bluetooth earphones look a lot like the Zik 2, but they’ve improved on them in some major ways. This new model also features active noise cancellation, and is probably the most high-tech, feature-rich earphones you can buy for $400 (£300, AU$599). The Parrot Zik 3 Bluetooth earphones are sleek and beautiful, with excellent build quality and a wealth of features, including wireless audio streaming, effective noise cancellation, and touch-sensitive controls on the right earphone. Additionally, Bluetooth sound quality is very good, the Parrot Zik 3 Bluetooth earphones have replaceable batteries, and the earphones can be wirelessly charged using an optional Qi accessory.The Parrot Zik 3 battery life of the Parrot Zik 3 earphones is improved over previous models, but it’s still not great; and despite the high price, they only come with a basic cloth carrying case.Bottom Line

Parrot has made some small but significant upgrades to its Zik 3 earphones, making them one of the best wireless earphones with active noise cancellation. The biggest changes on the outside are the new colors and textures, including “alligator skin” and “overstitching” effects Additionally, the headband has been lengthened to provide better comfort for those with larger heads.

While the headset isn’t as comfortable as Bose’s SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphone II, it’s still a comfortable headset and, at 9.5 ounces or 270 grams, is lighter than the original Zik. In terms of functionality, the touch-sensitive controls in the right earcup remain — I like them, but some don’t — as does the removable and replaceable battery, which gives the Parrot Zik 3 headphones around seven hours of  Parrot Zik 3 headphones battery life with noise cancellation turned on and wireless features turned on. While that’s a slight improvement over theParrot Zik 2’s battery life, it’s still not great, but it does improve if you listen at more moderate volumes or with noise cancellation turned off. It’s also worth noting that you can buy a second battery as a backup for the Parrot Zik 3 headphones. The earphones now have a wireless charging option (they can be charged), but you have to buy a compatible Qi charging accessory to use it (Samsung Galaxy and other Android smartphones use the Qi standard for wireless charging, so there are plenty of Qi charging pads on the market). Other features include noise cancellation that intelligently adapts to your environment, and a new “Hi-Fi quality” wired USB listening mode for those who think Bluetooth audio streaming isn’t good enough. That’s not all.Companion app The earphones pair with a companion app that lets you adjust the sound and the amount of noise cancellation, as well as check the remaining battery power. The app is available for iOS and Android, and can be ported to certain smartwatches (it’s actually one of the more useful apps I’ve used on the Apple Watch).Strong performance

Once I got everything working, I was impressed by the performance of the Zik 3. It’s one of the best-sounding Bluetooth earphones on the market, with rich detail, strong bass, and good noise cancellation. It also works well as a headset for making calls, and the great thing is that you can adjust the noise cancellation setting for incoming calls to strike a balance between eliminating external noise and hearing your own voice inside the earphones (the setting is called “Street Mode”)iPhone 6S and Samsung Galaxy S6. The $500 Sennheiser is the best sounding headphone in this group. It has a richer, more detailed, and more natural sound. For example, on Daft Punk’s “Doin’ it Right,” you can feel more stereo separation and can distinguish each instrument. While the Zik sounded deep and clean, it wasn’t as dynamic as the Sennheiser, and the bass didn’t have as much energy as the Sennheiser. Overall, the Zik 3 sounded sweeter, but also more processed.

The BeoPlay H8 is an on-ear headphone with similar sound quality to the Zik 3, so it’s hard to say who is the winner. The Beats Studio Wireless has a slightly warmer sound, but the noise cancellation is not as strong as the Zik 3 .Of course, sound is subjective, and everyone hears a little differently and has different tastes—both in music and voices. To complicate matters, the Zik 3’s customization options make it suitable for listening to a variety of music genres. As I said, I prefer a fixed sound profile, but I know others enjoy being able to tweak the Zik 3’s sound through the app and download equalization settings from different artists. Strong sound, great price

Parrot made some small but noteworthy improvements to the Zik 3, and while it doesn’t look all that different from the Zik 2, it’s a much better headphone and worth considering if you’re looking for a pair of wireless Bluetooth headphones with noise cancellation That being said, the Zik 2 is also worth a closer look, and its price has dropped to $250. At that price, any minor shortcomings the headphones may have are easier to tolerate.

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