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First Impressions: Dyson Zone Review

First Impressions

The Dyson Zone can’t escape feeling odd – a headphone and an air filtration system joined together seems fantasy but, surprisingly, they do work, delivering capable audio and fresh air.

Introduction

Pollution is everywhere, in many forms and oftentimes invisible. Whether it’s noise pollution or tiny particulates swarming in the air, your body is a magnet for pollution.

It’s a problem, especially for those who live cities, but perhaps not one we’re consciously aware of since we’re all used to noise and dirty air, even if we shouldn’t be.

And if there’s a problem to be solved then Dyson are the type of company that deals in finding solutions, but a headphone wouldn’t be the first thing you’d think of, and certainly not a product you’d think would combat poor air quality.

But that’s exactly what the Dyson Zone is; a headphone and air filtration device all-in-one to protect against invading noise and pollutants. We went hands-on with the device in late November and here’s how we got on with a curious, but quite interesting product.

Availability

  • UKRRP: £749
  • USATBC
  • EuropeTBC
  • CanadaTBC

The Dyson Zone go on sale first in China in January 2023, followed by a launch in the United States and United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong SAR and Singapore in March 2023.

Prices start at £749, which implies more expensive models beckon. Prices elsewhere will be confirmed closer to when the headphones are heading to sale. The price puts the Zone among luxury headphones such as the Bang & Olufsen H95 and Mark Levinson No. 5909 wireless headphones. Then again, the Dyson Zone aren’t just headphones…

Design

  • Air purification system integrated into headphones
  • Quite heavy for a headphone
  • Detachable visor

If I were to compare headphones to various weight classes in boxing championships, then the Bose QuietComfort 45 would be in the Bantamweight division and the Dyson Zone would be competing at the heavyweight end of the discussion.

That said, while they weigh a prodigious 595g (670g with the visor), a weight you can feel picking them up, on the head they don’t feel as overbearing as you might expect. The padding here is very generous, soft and pliable around the ears and on top of the head.

There’s no doubting you can feel its presence – the word featherlight wouldn’t be an apt description for these headphones – but they also don’t feel cumbersome. The clamping force is tight but not onerous and wearing them for around 30 minutes, I got used to it.

Dyson Zone headband padding
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Those with smaller heads may find that the size simply envelopes their heads but in light of the wealth of technology that Dyson has fitted into the earcups alone, it’s impressive they feel this comfortable at all.

You’ll notice on the earcups that there are perforated holes across the surface. These aren’t a sign of the headphones’ open-backed design (they are very much closed-back), but the holes needed to draw air in via the compressor motor, and then pass it on to the visor.

The visor is detachable and links up to the headphones through sheer magnetism – simply waft them towards the earcups and they’ll attach, while pulling them off doesn’t require much pressure at all. It can be extended or reduced to better fit your face and note that the visor doesn’t actually touch your face, it just sits in front of your mouth/nose.

Dyson Zone Media Day Reportage Imagery November 2022
“I was born in the darkness”

As soon as the visor is attached the motor starts running, a soft but noticeable whirring sound that’s quick to start and quick to stop when the visor is attached/detached. The earcup can be disassembled to reach the filter inside, which can lasts up to 12 months before it needs changing.

I used my phone to control music and volume but there is a power on/off button as well as button for playback and pause, the Zone keeps it simple on the operation front. A double tap in the centre of the left-hand earcup activates the transparency mode/ANC, the responsiveness of which is prompt enough when it works though sometimes it took a few tries. The sound of that ‘tap’ is more of ‘thunk’ now that I think about it.

While the visor will draw comparison to Bane from The Dark Knight Rises – I also submit the Ant-Man helmet from the MCU films – there is a function to it that makes sense even if aesthetically it appears odd.

There’s a curious conflict as it’s patently weird to see a visor on a headphone but viewed from the perspective of an air filtration mask then it makes a fair amount of sense. Whether you look like a supervillain or a superhero, take these out in public and I imagine many people will be staring.

Dyson Zone quarter turn case
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

The headphones come in an array of colours such as Ultra Blue/Prussian Blue, Prussian Blue/Bright Copper and Satin Blue/Ultra Blue combinations. I find myself leaning towards the Satin Blue but the Prussian Blue version is a nice look too.

Accessories include a visor cleaning brush (I guess that’s the answer to what you do when you sneeze while wearing them), a pair of electrostatic carbon filters, USB-C charging cable, Visor sleeve and a Quarter Turn hard case (which like the headphones themselves is on the big side).

The Prussian Blue version is available from Dyson Direct and that comes with extra accessories such as a different case, an In-Flight adaptor kit (it seems exclusive to this version) and a soft case.

Features

  • Long battery life
  • Effective noise cancellation
  • User friendly companion app

The amount of technology that’s been fitted into this headphone is remarkable. During my stay at Dyson, they regularly referred to the Zone as wearable and its with the features where that designation begins to make more sense.

First, the active noise cancellation. There are 11 microphones, eight of which are dedicated to noise cancellation, two are for noise reduction (when talking calls) and one is for picking up your voice. The Sony WH-1000XM5 only has eight.

Beamforming mics are used to draw out voice during phone calls, with a wind noise and crowd noise algorithm to reduce noise further.

Dyson Zone logo
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Noise cancellation is good, perhaps not Bose or Sony levels of suppression but without either of those pairs to hand at the time, it’s hard to draw a direct comparison. But in the (indoor) area I was in with a room that simulated a New York City environment it certainly tapered down the noise to where I could still hear traffic but interference was minimal. Switching to the transparency mode and there’s the sense of sounds being amplified clearly without audible noise. Well, unless you are wearing the visor with the fan running in the background.

ANC is described as being able to swot away up to 38dB of noise (total attenuation is claimed to be 40dB in total with passive noise reduction of the earcups), the microphones monitor their surroundings at 384,000 times a second.

I could hear the whir of the motors when playing music and they were more noticeable during quiet lulls. It was the same with videos I watched, though to be fair, the noise is not overly distracting. Active noise cancellation is always on when the visor is attached and if you take the headphones completely off then there’s auto pause/play functionality included as well.

Dyson Zone filtration holes
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

The filter can capture gases such as NO2, SO2, and O3 (the latter is Ozone), purifies the air and filters through fresh air to your mouth. The area I was in was fairly cold so the air I was breathing in was chilly too. Presumably in hotter climates the wearer will be breathing in warmer air. I was told the Dyson Zone doesn’t ‘cool’ the air – if memory serves that would require some sort of certification if it were to do that.

Bluetooth 5.0 is supported and wireless audio codecs include SBC, AAC and LHDC, the latter of which is supported by the likes of Huawei, FiiO and 1More. There was mention of LDAC but it did not appear on the final specs sheet I was given.

Battery life is up to 50 hours with noise cancellation on, which puts it around the Technics EAH-A800 (50 hours) and Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless (60 hours). Add the visor and battery life falls significantly, four hours at Low flow (the rate at which is being filtered through), 2.5 hours at Mid flow and 90 minutes with High flow purification speeds. Charge time from 0% takes three hours.

There is a companion app in the My Dyson app and it allows you to see what all the sensors and microphones on the headphones are doing. You will need to register an account to use the app and the data on offer is considerably more than what you’d get from a ‘normal’ pair of headphones and why the wearable tag seems effective.

Dyson Zone earcup detached
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

You can see how much noise you’re being bombarded with both within the ear and from outside, with the app telling whether the amount of noise has gone past the recommended limit. The app can also show the Nitrogen Oxide levels around you as well the remaining life of the filters inside the earcups.

There are customisations or ‘preferences’, such as being able to pause audio when the visor is lowered or enacting a noise limiter that limits the audio level to 85dB. Technically, anything above that volume can cause hearing damage when listened to for prolonged periods.

You can manage the noise cancellation modes and the EQ options (you’re given three options in Enhanced, Bass Boost and Neutral) but no custom EQ that you can create yourself. Most importantly, it offers a swift user experience, and the data is presented in an easily digestible and visual way.

Dyson Zone My Dyson app

Sound Quality

  • Crisp, clean tone
  • Expansive soundstage
  • Good dynamics

There is not as much to say about the audio, mainly because the longest period of time I spent listening with the headphones was not the final version.

At first blush the headphones sound very spacious, the soundstage is expansively described, and the tone is one of crisp clarity. It’s engaging in terms of dynamics (in the sense of quiet and loud), detailed but perhaps lacking a degree of extra definition in how it describes the shapes of instruments. It wasn’t the most energetic of performances either, predominantly down to the bass lacking some punch and coming across a bit tubby.

Dyson Zone on dummy head
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

But I did get to listen to the final tuned version briefly, but even from that brief time, the final version sounded a definite step-up. Dyson had rectified the issues with bass which now had a very direct and punchy quality that made its presence felt when listening to Takuya Kuroda’s version of Everybody Loves the Sunshine. The cymbal crashes were crisply defined, the soundstage was very spacious and detailed, with vocals well defined and provided with ample amounts of clarity. This was an altogether much more balanced and pleasing performance.

The Dyson Zone feature 40mm neodymium drivers that have been angled to provide a more natural soundstage by firing audio towards the ear (Bowers & Wilkins deploy a similar method with their Px7 S2 and Px8 headphones). Frequency range covers 6Hz – 21kHz, which should help provide some emphatic low frequency output and a slightly sharper high frequency performance.

Dyson Zone angled drivers
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Their crisp and clean tone is down to the low levels of distortion that the headphones produce, with a THD (Total Harmonic Distortion) of less than 0.08% @94dB @1kHz, which is to say there’s very little signal noise to hear with the Dyson Zone

Dyson have admitted they’ve taken a scientific approach in producing the sound for these headphones, and that does give them an analytical feel. Some may prefer this to headphones that feel warm or rich like the WH-1000XM5. I could say that there are headphones out there that sound more exciting than the Dyson but they’re going for faithful reproduction of music and at least from this glimpse of what the headphone can do, they’re on the right track.

First impressions

The Dyson Zone can’t escape feeling odd – a headphone and an air filtration system joined together seems plain weird at first but, surprisingly, it does work.

Whether it’ll get past the visual test for some is another matter. I must admit, wearing the headphones made me feel self-conscious – perhaps the Dyson Zone is a Rorschach test and I’m actually a shallow person. Though they can look weird – and the only look less weird when surrounded by other people wearing it too – there’s a certain amount of sense to Dyson’s logic here.

With the Zone, Dyson has taken its air purification technology outside the home and as it’s been in development for six years (this was something in the works well before the pandemic), Dyson has clearly given the concept some thought and fully committed to it.

Yes, you look silly and yes it feels strange but more importantly it works. There’s no headphone like this on the market, and at the same time it’s more than just a headphone. It’s a fascinating piece of technology and soon enough we’ll see how it performs in the real world.

Full specs

UK RRP
Manufacturer
IP rating
Battery Hours
Size (Dimensions)
Weight
Release Date
Audio Resolution
Driver (s)
Noise Cancellation?
Connectivity
Colours
Frequency Range
Headphone Type

Sustainability

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As part of this mission, whenever we review a product we send the company a series of questions to help us gauge and make transparent the impact the device has on the environment.

We currently haven’t received answers to the questions on this product, but will update this page the moment we do. You can see a detailed breakdown of the questions we ask and why in our sustainability info page.

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