In all my years of turning myself into a cyborg with all sorts of wearable products, there’s nothing that has made me feel like a Transformer quite like the new Dyson Zone air-purifying, noise-canceling headphones.
I’ll admit, I’ve been skeptical about the $950 Dyson Zone since the odd-looking hybrid contraption was announced in December 2022. What could a vacuum company know about headphones? Hasn’t interest in personal air-purifiers declined ahead now that Covid-19 infections have dwindled? Are we closer to a dystopian future than I thought?
But when I finally got to try Dyson Zone for myself — Bane-like mask attachment and all — I felt ridiculously cool. Sure, it might’ve helped that my demo took place on the same midtown rooftop where Toby McGuire’s Spider-Man dropped Mary Jane after the Green Goblin's Times Square attack. That doesn’t change the fact that my trial run with the device left me wishing I could strut out on the streets with a pair of my own, though.
The headphones follow a similar design language to Dyson’s other products, including vacuum cleaners, air-purifying fans and the infamous Dyson Airwrap. In fact, it looks like parts were pulled from the company’s other categories to conjure up the statement-making headset from the sleek, royal blue details to the futuristic, perforated ear cups.
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Dyson Zone is a 2-for-1 experience
In some ways, the Dyson Zone is like any other of the best headphones like the AirPods Max or Sony WH-1000XM5. It pairs via Bluetooth to a smartphone, but most of the controls take place on the cups. Double-tapping the outside of either cup switches between transparency mode and active noise cancelation, while music playback is navigated with a small toggle button on the bottom rim of the right earcup.
Let me be clear: You wouldn’t buy the Dyson Zone for the sound performance. The active noise cancellation is undeniably remarkable, but listening to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” didn’t deliver an operatic listening experience that blows away my XM5s. That said, you’re not doing the Dyson Zone justice unless you’re using the visor while listening.
The visor is, essentially, a magnetic face mask that fills your mouth and noise with cool, clean air. As an impassioned hater of “airplane air,” I imagine breathing through Dyson Zone’s electrostatic filters would make me feel first class (even though I’m usually sitting in the back of the bus.)
When I stood still, Zone’s air flow was moderate. Then, when I started skipping around, the headset’s accelerometers upped the air flow to the point where I could hear the fans kick on around my ears. This automatic trigger is meant to assist wearers as they’re moving around and might need more air, such as running to catch a train or scaling stairs.
I didn’t get a chance to explore the MyDyson app, but apparently, it’s used to check the air quality of my surroundings. Air pollution is a major concern, especially in cities. I haven’t always worried about what’s in the New York City air I’m inhaling, but I know I’d rather breathe through the high-tech Dyson Zone purifiers than my regular ‘ole human nostrils.
Let them stare
Of course, people might stare but that’s not something that bothers me, if I’m being honest. And if one of these onlookers is inclined to ask me about what the heck is on my head, I can simply lower the visor to stop airflow and pause music to speak. It’s surprisingly intuitive.
Besides thinking I look awesome in the Dyson Zone, I’m convinced of the practical uses. It’s for sure a luxury, but one that I would consider if I frequented areas that might not have the best air quality. Even as an avid traveler, there’s an appeal to inhaling fresh-feeling air while surrounded by strangers for several hours. The filters might not protect against airborne viruses, yet I felt healthier the moment I secured the visor against my face — like I was breathing a better kind of air than everyone else around me.