"Fantastic friend with a fleck of flakiness"5.0 starson by kayandjohn
Pros: * Excellent sound
* Superb noise cancellation
* Utmost comfort
* Innovative features
* Eye-catching looks
Cons: * Flaky bluetooth (rock-solid reliable only with Apple products)
Summary: Oh, another con... not waterproof, so I have to take them off to shower. Oh, well, I can shower when the battery is charging!
Headphones that are both wireless and noise cancelling are born with two strikes against them, as audiophiles state that each feature corrupts the purity of sound. Maybe, but...
I fear that I have become a headphone addict over the last 6 months. I purchased the Zik by Starck at Brookstone 4 days ago, where I could listen to them first. I have been following them with interest (lust?) since they won Best of CES last January.
I have diligently compared these Ziks to headphones purchased in the intervening 8 months:
* Sennheiser HD 598 over the ear corded ($230 at Amazon);
* Sennheiser PXC BT310i on the ear Bluetooth noise cancelling (also $230 at Amazon - won the HiFi best headphone last year);
* Klipsch s4i earbuds ($70);
* Apple In-ear headphones with remote and mic (the two-driver in each earpiece one, $70 from The Apple Store).
In short, I love the Ziks.
To compare, I used the first 90 sec of The Band of Heathens "You're Going to Miss Me When I'm Gone," with its deep drum (do you hear a distinctive twang or just the boom?), its brushed cymbal (do you hear individual bristles on the cymbal as well as the overall 'shuff'?), its similar-but-different vocalists on first and second verse, and its bass glissando on the third verse. Gentle reader, I spent an entire evening listening to this 90 sec of music on four headphones for you! But...
I fear I am not much of an audiophile. I could easily detect differences among each of the five headphones in each of these areas. I might be able, in a blind test, to guess which headphone was in use. I definitely could not determine a preference... like a succulent orange and perfect apple, each was good, and each was different, but none were preferable, despite my very best efforts to compare on each of the features of that song I used.
However, the Zik also caused me to hear nuances I had not heard with the others.
Furthermore, I could compare its noise cancellation with the Sennheiser PXC BT310i (Zik markedly better); its comfort with both the over-ear Sennheiser and the on-ear Sennheiser (Zik more comfortable), and its Bluetooth connect capabilities to the Sennheiser PXC (Sennheiser connects more easily with PCs and the Sennheiser Bluetooth dongles one needs to add Bluetooth to the iPod Classic and TVs; Zik connects well only to the iPod Touch, iPhone 4, and iPad 1 (and I asume the other iPads) and is very fussy, gets driver error messages, or does not connect at all to the others... Sennheiser connects to these Apple products easily as well).
I prefer the cloth bag that the Zik comes in to the hard case of the Bose, as the bag can be folded away to very small size when empty.
I much enjoy the iPhone App that controls the Zik (noise cancellation on/off, reverberance and sound stage width, and 7-band equalizer, as well as battery level). They are great diversions, though I am quite happy listening with all of these features off (no NC, no sound stage effect, flat equalization). The comfortably-padded headphones insulate nearly as much sound with NC off as the Sennheiser on-ear suppresses while on, and as much as the in-ear headphones.
Cost? A step up from those I have been comparing it to, but not that much more than the popular Beats Studio Over-Ear by Dr Dre ($300), which I have tried and found of similar sound, comfort, and noise-suppression quality, but with no Bluetooth or advanced features (touch, auto off when removed, phone use).
Looks? In the eye of the beholder. I find them Great! The flash of orange within the headband, the flat black, the weighty piece over the head, the smooth appearance are all appealing to me.
In short, headphones with both wireless operation and noise cancellation are few and far between, perhaps 5% of the headphone models. To my mind, of the one I had in hand and could compare directly, this is the better.