Australian Hi-Fi

The world’s safest headphones?


Two years after having registered patents for a pair of headphones with a built-in air purifier, Dyson made headlines last summer after announcing that it had indeed developed a pair of wireless active noise cancelling headphones with a unique air purificati­on feature, the Dyson Zone.

Now, the quirky Zone headphones are a huge step closer to reality: they are set to hit shelves early this year. They will first be available in China this month (January), with the US, UK and other markets to follow in March. Australia is likely to be one of those 'other' markets considerin­g I have received o£cial press informatio­n from an Australian outlet, though at the time of writing Aussie pricing is yet to be confirmed and can only be estimated at around $1,400 based on the confirmed UK and US price tags.

In Dyson’s words, the Zone are a pair of “noise-canceling, high fidelity over-ear headphones which simultaneo­usly deliver immersive sound to the ears, and purified airflow to the nose and mouth.” Here’s how it works: compressor­s in the earcups suck air in through dual-layer filters and blow two jets of purified air at the wearer’s nose and mouth, which is channelled through a “non-contact visor”. The visor, which flips down so you can talk to people, prevents crosswinds from interferin­g with the airflow and creates a ‘bubble’ of clean air to sip on. After six years of painstakin­g developmen­t and 500 prototypes, Dyson reckons it's got the tech spot on.

The air purifier is supposedly capable of removing pollutants as small as 0.1 microns, and a companion app called ‘MyDyson’ will be able to keep wearers informed of real-time air pollution and sound exposure in their surroundin­gs.

Airborne viruses aside, Dyson hopes its pollution-busting cans will improve the quality of the air we breathe in urban areas. Naturally, air purificati­on is their main selling point. Sexy? No. But safe? Yes.

Away from that, though, the Zone look fairly impressive­ly spec’d for headphones of today. They o¨er active noise cancellati­on capable of reducing external noise by up to 38dB for up to 50 hours on a single charge. And on top of ANC and the priceless ability to breathe safe, clean air, the headphones also come with a built-in EQ to optimize sound based on the listener preference­s, and dual microphone beamformin­g tech with noise suppressio­n for crystal-clear voice calls. A newly developed “neodymium electroaco­ustic system” in each earcup claims to deliver a wide frequency response and “significan­tly” less distortion than can be detected by the human ear, too.

As for comfort, Dyson says it’s opted for ear cushions that are flatter than most convention­al examples as that apparently reduces the pressure between the foam and your skin to increase comfort during long listening sessions.

Who says a vacuum cleaner company can’t clean air as well as carpets, eh? I can’t imagine that a sea of Dyson Zone-wearing commuters hopping aboard a train will ever be a reality in anything but a Christophe­r Nolan movie, but with the emergence of such cleanlines­s solutions for consumer technology (also seen in the modest wave of true wireless earbuds with self-cleaning cases, like the Audio-Technicas on page

9), it will be interestin­g to see how far this concept goes. According to Dyson, the Zone are just its “first step into the exciting and ever-innovating world of audio”.

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