Busy busy, its always good to walk into Myers and purchase a couple of the latest tech to test out and leave a review on.
Ive been looking and researching for a pair of bluetooth headphones, i had some specific requirements that i wanted.
- High sound quality
- Comfortable to wear for hours on end if necessary
- Bluetooth capabilities
- Being able to connect to any blue device such as a phone or laptop
- ANC (Active Noise Cancellation)
I had 2 headphones in mind:
- Bose Soundlink Bluetooth Headphones
- Parrot Zik Bluetooth Headphones
I know there are a couple more that could of be worthwhile contenders such as the MM450-X Sennheiser headphones but alas i did not have these ones at my disposal.
I’ve actually turned into a little bit of a Bose fanboy of late, only wanting what i say is the best audio engineering available. Of course some will disagree with me and people say that Bose is more of a household name and the reason why they can charge their exorbitant prices despite some saying their quality is not up to scratch.
Well it’s funny i tend to always settle on bose equipment and no its not because its BOSE but the fact that its music to my ears when i listen to it. They are obviously doing something right.
So on with the show.
I always had the Bose Soundlink in mind, actually infact i was close to getting wired headphones instead which would of opened my selection up a lot. I originally had the Bose QuietComfort 3 in mind for the good part of the last couple of years. The noise cancellation was amazing and when you heard the demo at the store you would be no doubt blown away.
But, i refrained from looking into this too much as the portability factor was something high on my list of needs and wants, so i settled on only looking for bluetooth headphones.
Im not an audiophile, yet i do love music and have a keen ear on what sounds goods. So whilst my assumptions and opinions are not professional they are my unbiased opinions and you should do your own comparisons to see what suites you best.
Reading other reviews and comparisons online i was almost certain that the best bluetooth headphones available were the Parrot Zik, designed in France. So guess what, they were the pair i purchased and wanted to compare myself with the Bose Soundlinks.
Whilst doing my research on the Bose i stumbled across many posts of people saying that the Parrot Zik headphones absolutely blow every other bluetooth headphone out of the water and guess what with a price tag of around $499 RRP, they better be. BOOOM i almost fell of my chair when i saw how much they were.
Taking one look at the headphones though and you will see why they are worth the price they are asking for. They do infact look beautiful, without a doubt probably the best looking, sexiest headphones on the market.
I ended up buying the last ones you see on that picture, White/Rose Gold. I probably would of preferred the White/Gold as they would look more bling, but i guess for convenience the black/silver would’ve been a wise option.
You can purchase these headphones from Amazon.com, Ebay or if you want to make a wise choice choose a reputable local retailer like Myer, JBHI FI or other local retailers. The main reason for this is that these large local department stores usually have a relaxed return policy as long as you have a receipt.
What’s in the box
- The headphones
- A carry dust bag
- Mini usb to standard usb white braided cable
- Headphone jack white braided cable
One of the main reasons i purchased these headphones and i had to give a go was because of the features it had.
- Metal finish
- Active Noise Cancellation
- 4 microphones
- Iphone and Android App
- Touch control
- Equalizer control
- Auto pause when you take your headphones off
- Firmware updateable
There is a lot to like about it. I cracked open the box only a few days ago and was very eager to give them a whirl. The first thing i did was to connect the headphones to my Android, you can find the app in the app store free of charge of course. The app is pretty nice, simple and lets you control features of the device.
I actually had an issue pairing my Zik to the phone, it found it but would not pair with it, it would just keep coming back with an error saying something like “Could not connect”. After many attempts, turning the phone on and off and other troubleshooting steps it finally connected.
The software seems buggy, when i first installed the software it detected my headphones it did upgrade the firmware from 1.08 to 1.10 the latest firmware at the time of writing this. Although i was running the latest firmware i still experienced the above mentioned problems.
I brought up spotify and listened to a few bass pumping tracks.
Sound Quality 8/10
Yesssssss, its nice, you will be impressed. Especially after playing with the options in the software to turn on ANC as well as play with Parrot Concert Hall effects.
Whilst i like the software options in reality i never found myself turning any of them off, so it made me think do you really need control over them ? Would there be times that you don’t need to have concert hall on ? Well maybe but i never found it.
I truly did like the noise cancellation, but in my tests regardless if i turned them on or off it made a marginal difference, it was not as much as i expected them. The concert call effect also was nice but without it turned on the music just sounded sort of mono and with concert hall on sounded stereo..
I found the bass to be very deep and ‘rumbly’ it did not give a real ‘punchy’ effect. Its up to you if you like this or not, i thought it was OK, but i did find that the bass on high volume would overtake the mids and highs somewhat and drown them out. Also the bass at high volume would almost cause distortion in the music. Again it just depends on what you’re listening to.
Luckily you can adjust the EQ in the software to your own user set EQ settings meaning you do have fine control over this.
Again the Parrot headphones are OK…. they feel good on the head but the biggest negative i can give is they are heavy. Yep compared to the Bose headphones they weigh a ton.
After 1 hours of use you would easily be complaining about them. The headband could also use more padding as it tends to hurt the top of your head because they are so heavy.
I was happy to say though that i wear glasses and generally speaking over the ear headphones have a tendency to press your glasses around the ear and cause some pain. I did not feel like this with these headphones. The padding around the ear is pretty good.
The earcups themselves when they are sitting on your ear is not the best i have used. The inner ear cup is not big enough so my ears were half on/half off. Some people will complain about it and some wont, i guess it just depends how big your ears are. LOL
As mentioned earlier i did have some issues trying to connect these headphones to my phone, but that was resolved.
The next thing i wanted to do and was important to me was to connect to my computer and use them to listen to music as well as Skype.
I ran into some issues. They did pair with my Dell Alienware laptop running Windows 8.1. They did provide the Parrot software for Win 8.x via the app store, but again i had some random pairing issues. I noticed that once it found the device if i clicked PAIR too quick it would give an error, if i timed it correctly and waiting about 15 seconds and then clicked PAIR it would work and start to pair.
Once i got past this it was time to test some music, i cranked up Spotify and everything seemed to work fine as i expected.
I then tried Skype using a test call. The microphone was not being picked up. The actual device was found PARROT HANDS-FREE but the microphones were not being activated so i had no UV metered sound.
I actually spend several hours trying to figure this out so much to say that i uninstalled and reinstalled several versions of my Bluetooth card drivers in the laptop, to no avail.
I came to the conclusion that there is an incompatibility between the Zik and the Intel Wireless N 2230 Bluetooth Card. I cannot confirm this, but in MY testing this was the case, i simply could not get the microphones to activate.
I have send Zik a support email on this and they said they would escalate it to the product managers, i am still waiting for a solution to this.
31/10/2014 Update: My assumptions were correct. I have confirmation from Zik support that the Zik’s are not compatible with the Intel Wireless N 2230 bluetooth stack and are working on ways to resolve it. As such pleas take note of this before making your purchase.
Oh something that i guess is very important and funny enough none of the other reviews mentioned that i read, is the fact that you cannot have multiple devices paired at the same time with these headphones. Well i need to rephrase that, they can be paired, but cannot be connected simultaneously.
I found myself a little annoyed is i wanted to switch between listening to music my laptop but then wanting to take a phone call if my phone rang, it means i had to go to bluetooth on my phone, click connect wait for connection then i could start to talk.
Bad, bad bad…… 6 hours…..
Think about it, with all effects on, ANC on you will get a maximum of 6 hours. Thats not a lot of time and there is no doubt you will need to recharge on a daily basis. I would recommend you purchase a second or third battery even if travelling or just to have lying around.
Its also important to note here that you must charge the battery in the phone, there is no external charger… bummer.
I guess one final bad point about this topic is the battery itself, its a proprietary battery, so there is no option to purchase these batteries if you need to easily.
A good point about the battery is that you can charge it using a standard mini usb cable to any usb powered source, i used my laptop to charge as well as my Android charger worked well.
Final verdict on the Parrot Zik’s
To sum these bad boys up i would say they are OK, i guess my expectations were too high and i was not overly impressed overall. I am left wondering why so many reviews out there are so positive and no one criticized as hard as me ???
The headphones are very stylish and no doubt will make a statement in any room, but they are not practical, they are bluetooth and are suppose to be portable, but they are also one of the heaviest bluetooth headphones available and compared to wired models.
The battery life sucks real bad, literally. Probably due to all the bells and whistles.
The bass seems to drown out too much of the music and sometimes feels to rumbly.
I do like how you can update the firmware, it only means that the software can get better with time, if they iron out the bugs, however these headphones are not new they have been around for a couple years now and if they have not ironed out the bugs now i do not think they ever will.
I think in the end you are paying for more TECH rather than a quality product, or that is how it feels to me anyway. Especially after my pairing bluetooth issues as well as my issues of the incompatibility i found with my bluetooth card.
In terms of warranty it comes with a standard 1 years warranty, you do have the option to purchase additional warranty from Myers which i highly recommend you do. The cost is only $50 for an extended 2 years replacement warranty.
In terms of support i did have to call Parrot Australia to ask them about the bluetooth issues i was having, i initially spoke to a receptionist who had no idea what i was talking about and said i needed to send an email to her and she would forward it onto the product manager. It has been a number of days and i still don’t know what happening.
Other small things that you think would have been included such as a carry case, were forgotten. You will be provided with a felt bag. This offers no protection whatsoever. You can buy a hard case from Parrot and other good leading retailers but that will set you back another $50, extra batteries are another $30.
With a price of about $329 RRP they are cheaper than the Parrot Zik’s by about %20.
These headphones are a different beast to the Parrot Zik’s, in both features as well as design.
I always knew that one of the test headphone i would get would be a Bose, these soundlink’s are Bose’s latest offering.
Bose can be purchased in all good retailers such as JBHI FI, Myers, Lifestyle Store, Bose Online… etc.
What’s in the box
- The headphones
- A hard case
- A blue gold plated headphone jack cable (branded bose)
- A standard black mini usb to large usb cable
- Various paraphernalia
Whilst not as feature packed as the Parrot Zik’s it does come with some neat features.
- Voice prompts when pairing
- Accessing your phone book when paired to phone
- Simultaneous bluetooth connections x2
- Up to 15 hours of battery life
Probably the standout feature for me is the simultaneous connections, which i will get into later on.
The Bose headphones have sturdy button controls on the back of the right ear cup that allow you to skip forward, pause, play, skip backwards on your music. It also allows you whilst in a call to mute or answer or reject a phone call.
The instructions and functionality on how this works is a little tedious though, for example to go back a track you need to press the – sign x3…. here is a screenshot of the usage instructions you will see what i mean.
It seems they tried to put too much control but with not enough features.
Can you imagine how many times you will have to press the volume down button if you wanted to go back a track say 5 times ?
Nevertheless this is probably the only caveat of these headphones in terms of functionality.
The fact that there is physical buttons seems a little outdated, but it does show its rugged design, and would be no accidental button presses.
You have 2 color options, a more traditional Black/Blue and White/Blue. The white does look for stylish but i would think they can get dirty easier than the black, which is why i opted for the black after seeing just how easy it would be to get the Zik’s dirty if not looked after properly.
Sound Quality 9/10
BOOOM, these are completely different to the Zik’s. I actually sat there for about 30 minutes switching between the two to figure out exactly what i liked about one and what i didn’t like between each one.
Well firstly the Bose headphones sound clearer off the bat. The mid and high are very clean and clear, the Bass is also punchy, when compared to the Zik’s. They don’t have the rumble of the base like the Zik’s have. Some people will see this as a negative. But personally after listening to several hours of music you tend to enjoy the clarity moreover the bass in general.
I also found that when i listened to music with the bose headphones the music almost sounded like it was in my head… if thats a way to describe it… whereas with the Zik’s the music sounded more distant. Maybe it was the concert hall effect causing this in the Zik’s as it is meant to give a larger than life effect.
The Bose headphones had nothing off the sort, but i did really enjoy the actual quality of what i was listening to without it being drowned out with bass.
I think these headphone excel in this department for many reasons. Firstly they are on ear headphones, so you don’t get that feeling of your ears getting trapped a hot after long periods of listening.
Also they are a lot smaller in general and much lighter. All these things are important factor in overall comfort.
Even though the headphones are not Noise Cancelling. The earcup is padded in a way that it gives a level of Noise Isolation.
My head felt more comfortable wearing these headphones, and because they are meant to be a portable headphone what i preaches is what it delivers.
You can easily walk around with these headphones, go to the gym, or walk along in the streets using them.
After wearing them for about 2 hours i did feel a little discomfort in my right ear lobe… im not sure why they may be a little tight fitting on the headband causing the pressure, or it may be that i just need to get used to them.
I can easily say that it was pure pleasure to connect to any device via bluetooth in my testing. Using the same methods i did with the Zik’s i first attempted to connect to my phone, this paired right off the bat.
It also gave voice prompts which the Zik’s did not have this capability.
Finally it also asked to read and connect to my phone book, i presume i should be able to give voice commands and call someone also with this feature.
Speak and mic sound quality is good, the people i spoke to in testing said i sounded clear enough. You cannot really expect too much from bluetooth headphones like this that actually have no mic pointing towards your mouth as there is no direct line of communication. The Zik’s having 4 microphones were about the same quality also.
Then for me came the big test connecting it to my laptop and trying to skype with the headphones.
Im pleased to say that this worked also.
It paired first time with my laptop. The headphone speakers produced some nice sounds with the voices, and the mic also worked, unlike the Zik’s.
Again this just proves that the Zik’s have some sort of incompatibility problems with my bluetooth card which the Bose did not.
Battery Life 8/10
The battery is rated to last 15 hours of usage which is more than double that of the Zik’s, being marketed as a portable bluetooth headset you would expect the longest battery life possible.
I was under the impression that these headphones ran on a AAA rechargeable battery, but i guess i must of gotten then confused with the QC25 which infact does. It looks like you have no option to change the battery or have a spare battery.
What a shame!
If these headphones had the option to replace the battery with a standard AAA rechargeable battery it would of been great. On the plus side, it does only take about 1 hour to fully charge the headphones via usb cable for another 15 hours worth of playback. It is also worthwhile noting you can still listen to music even if the battery is dead via passive mode Line In cable whilst it charging.
Final verdict on the Bose Soundlink Bluetooth Headphones
I like these headphones a lot, infact out of the 2 i reviewed today i have chosen to stick with the Bose headphones.
I found the sound to be cleaner and clearer. The bass not too deep but still gave a clear punch.
The fact they are much lighter than the Zik’s means i can see myself using them for many purposes, walking, gym, work, skype etc…. without having to worry about them being too heavy and cumbersome.
Whilst the styling is different and probably not as stylish as the Zik’s they give a sense of a more traditional style of headphone that you will be used to. The build quality is quite good and and can be compacted nicely by turning the ear cups towards the headrest for easy portability.
I didn’t really like the Black/Blue accents, if they came out with a better color range with options that would’ve been much better for consumer choice.
The warranty on these headphones are 1 years manufacturers warranty, i did also purchase 2 years additional warranty with Myers.
In terms of support i did call Bose Australia, i could speak to a technical support department and i spoke to a lovely guy named Steve who gave me some insight into the headphones i asked specifically if the headphones would pair and work ok with Skype, he said he was not sure 100% if it would but offered to test bench this and get back to me.
Within about 2-3 hours i got a phone call back saying that they tested the Soundlink headphones with a Mac, Windows 7 and Windows 8 laptops and said that the microphone and skype worked fine.
I was pleasantly surprised at the level of support i received. So for me i was extremely happy to recommend Bose again if support is important to you.
I loved the fact you can have 2 simultaneous connections which works quite well, i could play music on my laptop the press pause, press play on spotify on my phone and music would switch instantly…. COOOL.
Together with more battery life than the Zik’s means that for me they are a winner. Yes they don’t have as much bells and whistles as the Zik’s, there is no NFC, there is no app to control the hardware, i do not believe they are firmware upgradeable. But maybe all these things really are not necessary and just complicate things ???
At the end of the day you can put these headphones on not worry about settings, plug and play and listen to great sounding headphones.
If i could give any tips for the next release of these headphones would be the following:
- More color options
- apt-X codec compatibility
- Use of a AAA rechargeable battery that can be replaced easily
- Noise cancellation option
At the time of writing this, i have been notified that the Zik’s are about to release v2.0.
Here is the product page with information, from what i can see the design is similar but they have reduced the weight a bit, the ear cups are still around ear but are thinner and not as chunky.
It seems the software has been updated also, to give a more cleaner interface than before.
It also looks like they have introduced bluetooth voice caller notifications like the Bose does.
On a negative note, you would think they would have fixed the battery issues, NOPE! still has 6 hours battery life… damn, i don’t think i will be reviewing these when they are official released.
Thanks for reading and i hope you found something of use in helping you make a decision if you happen to be looking at these 2 headphones as your next purchase.