First Look: Dyson Zone - Over The Top, But It Works

Posted on 26th April, 2023
First Look: Dyson Zone - Over The Top, But It Works

Our StereoNET Asia team was recently invited to a so-called “Secret Briefing” by Dyson at their Global Headquarters in Singapore. We have been anticipating news of the Dyson Zone headphones, which the company did not disappoint us at all. Dyson revealed that Singapore would be the first within Southeast Asia to launch the Dyson Zone.

StereoNET previously reported the incredulity over Dyson's announcement of the Dyson Zone and that it had to be an April Fool's joke in 2022. To be fair, you couldn't blame us as it had all the elements for a good one–it felt like self-aware, referential mockery; the idea seemed ludicrous yet the technology exists and is somewhat plausible; most importantly, Dyson is one of precious few companies that would have the cajones to make it happen. And that's precisely what they did.

The Dyson Zone is now a reality, and in our brief time with the unit, the whole idea of it is not as ludicrous as it seems. Perhaps what shapes most opinions and preconceptions is its bold look, which you can attribute largely to the futuristic, Daft Punk-esque detachable mask. Despite the fact it latches on magnetically, the mask feels secure for the most part. I doubt that it's secure enough for a morning run, but it is more likely the weight of the headphones on your head will be the biggest deterrent.

A wise man called Boris the Blade once mused that weight is a sign of reliability, and in this regard, the Zone certainly feels like a prime example. The one thing we can't fault, at least, is the build quality and the Zone certainly looks and feels like its price tag. Granted, the chin guard is unmistakably plastic-looking, but having a metal shell might be more trouble than it's worth–who knows, maybe they might offer more upmarket options for those who want to make a (stronger) visual statement.

That said, the Dyson Zone feels comfortable enough to be worn all day. The clamping force is perfectly Goldilocks and never feels off balance despite its massive footprint on your head. Dyson says that it designed the ear cushions flatter than the norm, and angled to align with our ears, for both passive attenuation and comfort.

The ergonomics are in top form here; Dyson thoughtfully built its controls around a joystick, which you activate with your thumb. It's a pretty intuitive system, and it's surprising that not many other companies have adopted this approach.

What's most cool about the Zone, though, is that moment when you turn on the filtration system for the first time. The Zone is undoubtedly the best advertisement for Dyson's miniaturised motor tech. The mask is nowhere near your face, and for those among us who hate that suffocating feeling of an aggressively fitted N95 mask, this feels like a weekend spa. On your face. The Dyson crew demonstrated the efficacy of the filtration system by spraying a strong scent directly in front of us, and we could not smell even a hint of it. It's the little things like these that maketh the Dyson mystique.

While there is no doubt that the filtration system is the star feature of the Zone, the headphones and noise cancelling system are interesting as well. Given Dyson's lack of storied history in the audio department other than a high-pitched whine (nice timbre, though) that has been tuned to perfection, their first crack at a pair of headphones–and a pricey one at that–evokes many questions.

Dyson claims that they do not rely on a golden listener, and instead rely purely on a science-based approach to achieve their targeted results. The fundamentals, at least, are not too different: the Zone is built around a 40mm, 16ohm neodymium driver. Dyson says the speaker driver and electronics, mechanical system, materials, and acoustics are designed to minimise distortion. They equalise the output with intelligent signal processing 48,000 times a second, which, together with the noise cancellation, neutralises harmonic distortion to inaudible levels across the full frequency range (0.08% @ 94 dB @1 kHz).

For noise cancelling, Dyson says it uses eight of the 11 built-in microphones to monitor surrounding noise 384,000 times a second, which offers up to 38 dB of noise cancellation from 20 Hz to 20 kHz.

Our first impressions were made with a YouTube video as the source, and on first impressions alone, the Zone is nothing to shout about. It's decent enough, and it sounds nothing like anything else out there in the market, character-wise. I think you might need some time to get used to its sound signature, but otherwise, you can't fault it for lack of clarity, that's for certain.

The noise-cancelling unit is able to neutralise the noisy background that we were in, and the Zone seems pretty even-handed in how it deals with different sources of noise. And it does this with nary a hint of negative pressure, which is great. It's a pair of headphones we certainly can enjoy for our commutes, provided you don't mind the looks you'll definitely be getting.

However, if you are planning to wear the Zone all day, you can't do it with the air purifier turned on. Dyson confirmed the battery life for four hours, and it takes about three hours to fully charge. With the air purifier and ANC disabled, the battery is good for up to 50 hours, which is pretty decent. Four hours is good enough for commutes to work, during which you can always recharge. I'm not sure if you can use the purifier all day with the USB attached, so you'll have to wait for our review for that.

At $949 USD, the Dyson Zone is certainly not for everyone. However, it's a ridiculous premise that, in practice, works better than anyone would care to admit. The Dyson Zone will be available in the US on April 27, 2023.

Justin Choo's avatar

Justin Choo

Kicking off his musical journey as a child with a dubious entreé of Rick Astley and Ozzy Osbourne, his musical tastes have only gotten ‘worse’ since then. Quick to embrace both traditional and modern worldviews in the field of audio, but that could also be down to his eclectic array of interests, ranging from fine spirits (not the ghostly kind), billiards to consumer tech; all topics he has contributed to PC Magazine, T3, Stuff and The Robb Report, among others.

Posted in:Headphones Lifestyle Technology
Tags: dyson 


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