These Dyson headphones are undeniably unique. Despite their bulky design, they were largely comfortable to wear, but the extra weight is noticeable after prolonged use. They have a premium feel that matches the price, and you get a decent assortment of protective gear to make travelling with them easier. However, the peculiar design and high price are likely to be enough to make most people look elsewhere.
Article republished with permission from which.co.uk.
When a manufacturer has to clarify that its latest product is not, in fact, an April Fool's joke (Dyson did this on Twitter, shortly after revealing the Zone headphones on 30 March 2022), it knows it's in for a potentially rough ride. And there's no doubt you're going to attract attention when wearing these headphones in public.
Except they're not just headphones. The Dyson Zone Absolute+ are over-ear wireless headphones that double as a personal air purifier, thanks to built-in filters and a detachable visor.
While we had to initially endure howls of laughter from onlookers (various sci-fi comparisons were made, especially to the visor of Star Trek's Geordi La Forge), their ridicule soon turned to curiosity. Just what is that visor for, how does it work and is it any good?
Dyson claims the Absolute+ is capable of capturing and filtering out "99% of pollutants as small as 0.1 microns". The company also lists some examples of these pollutants, including bacteria, industrial emissions and pollen. However, in the small print it's quick to point out that this was done in lab conditions and "capture rates may differ depending on real life usage".
Each ear cup contains a motor, air-purifying filter and compressor fan, which makes them noticeably bulkier than traditional headphones. The filters don't come preinstalled, you have to insert them yourself.
We found the process relatively easy. You simply spin the silver cover anti-clockwise to unlock and remove it, place the filter inside (this requires some gentle force), then replace the cover.
The air purifier visor attaches to the headphones magnetically, allowing you to quickly remove it. With the visor removed, the headphones continue to work as normal. The visor is adjustable, allowing you to move it up and down as well as in and out, but it took us a few goes to achieve the best fit. It's also incredibly easy to accidentally knock the visor off.
Isolation mode keeps background sounds (and derogatory comments from passersby) to a minimum
When activated, the motor pushes the filtered air to the inside of the visor. We haven't lab-tested the air purification, so we can't say for sure how effective it is, but we found the filtered air both cool and refreshing.
You can change the intensity via the accompanying app or set it to automatically change depending on the conditions you find yourself in. Even when set to maximum, the air flow never feels uncomfortable, but as you increase the air purification the noise made by the internal fans increases in volume.
At the lowest setting it's a non-intrusive hum, but when we ramped it up we could hear the internal fans clearly, even with noise cancelling turned on. Turning up the volume of what we were listening to helped drown out the fans, but people around us could still hear them whirring away. We also noticed some noise leakage when playing music at high volume.
Regardless of air purification features, when you're paying this much for a set of headphones you want them to sound decent. During several hours of use with a mixture of music and podcasts, we found that the headphones perform well, producing rich, clear sound.
You also get two noise-cancelling modes. Isolation mode keeps background sounds (and derogatory comments from passersby) to a minimum, while Transparency mode allows for sounds around you to be amplified (useful if you want to listen out for announcements, for example).
You can switch between the two modes in the app or by double-tapping the ear cups. There's also the option to switch off noise cancelling completely. Additional onboard controls include a button on the right ear cup to adjust volume, pause/continue playback and cycle through tracks.
Battery life depends on the intensity of the air purifier and whether you have noise cancelling activated. After several hours of constant use with full noise cancelling active and the air purifier switched between various intensities, our Absolute+ headphones still had some power remaining.
Air purification filters inside the cans.
The headphones are metallic and feel both solid and well made. At a quoted weight of 635g, however, they're much heavier than traditional headphones (Apple's AirPods Max are comparatively light at 358g). We found this extra weight noticeable, particularly after prolonged use.
The cushions on each ear cup feel soft, and we found they fitted comfortably around the ears. The headband is both cushioned and adjustable, so you should be able to find the right fit for you.
In terms of build quality, the visor itself feels considerably less premium than the headphones. It's made of a somewhat flimsy-feeling plastic with a softer rubber fitting around the sections that rest over your nose and mouth. The visor is also washable under the tap, but must be completely dry before reusing.
With the Absolute+ you get a number of goodies. Beyond the headphones and the detachable visor, you also get a hard travel case with detachable straps, separate soft protector sleeves for the headphones and visor, two changeable filters, a wired connection adapter and a small cleaning brush. To charge the headphones, Dyson provides a cable with a USB-C connector at both ends.
The MyDyson app (available for iOS and Android) is compatible with these headphones and lets you monitor the filters' lifespan, check air quality around you and even see current levels of pollen and nitrogen dioxide. If you enable tracking, it can also alert you to air quality in the areas you travel to.
Dyson Zone vs Zone Absolute+
The Dyson Zone headphones ($999) are essentially the same as the Zone Absolute+ headphones, but don't include extras such as an additional pair of changeable filters and an adapter for a wired connection (audio only).
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.