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Parrot Zik 2.0 Headphones Measurements and Analysis

By Steve Church

Wired Passive Mode

Since I don’t have a mannequin head microphone, I decided to kludge.  I used a laptop hard shell case with foam lining as an anechoic chamber to perform measurements.  I then applied the inverse of the reference eardrum response curve to graph what the headphones might sound like.  While perhaps not obsessively accurate, this seemed to work well enough to provide a general illustration of what I was hearing.


State-of-the-art measurement facility

Editorial Note About Measurements:

For the graphs that follow, please bear in mind that the headphones’ actual responses are significantly different when measured with proper equipment.  Among other differences, they would show substantially more bass when coupled with a head, or with a head-shaped measurement microphone with which they can form a seal.  Freefield measurements are a poor indicator of the acoustics at the ear drum.  These graphs are provided for comparative purposes only.

For reference, besides measuring the Parrot Zik 2.0 headphones, I also measured my wife’s KEF M500 on-ear headphones.  The measurements seem to quantify why I prefer the sound from the KEF headphones over the passive-mode Parrot cans without DSP.  The KEF headphones more closely match Hammershøi and Møller’s HRTF reference curve.


Relative SPL of the KEF M500 (red) and the Parrot Zik 2.0 (green)

As you can see, the KEF midrange hill peaks around 3 kHz; the Parrot Zik 2.0, about 2½ octaves lower.  With the inverse of Hammershøi and Møller’s reference response curve applied, the KEF measurements look a lot closer to flat through the critical midrange.


Dark red: actual measurement; bright red: predicted eardrum response

The Parrot Zik 2.0 in passive mode, on the other hand, appears to have some issues with bloated midrange.


Dark green: actual measurement; lighter green: predicted eardrum response

Just to play devil’s advocate, part of this could be an artifact of the microphone’s being placed merely inside the ear cup of the Parrot headphones, as opposed to the KEF’s on-ear form factor allowing physical contact with the measurement mic.  This is a kludge, after all.

Even if that were true, I thought from my very first listening while performing the initial battery charge that the passive mode sounded lifeless and dull.  Clearly, Parrot has devoted significantly more attention to electronic features and digital signal processing than the analog and mechanical.

With DSP Active

Since the DSP settings are nearly infinitely variable, the headphones with DSP enabled can potentially measure in whatever general response shape you wish.  Curiously, when the headphones are powered on, regardless of whether EQ is active, the midrange hump moves up to 2 kHz.  Applying the inverse reference HRTF curve to this results in a somewhat flatter response graph, at least in the sense that the midrange follows a more horizontal trend.


Predicted eardrum response of Zik 2.0 powered on

Although the jagged comb filter is not as audible as it appears, the headphones seem to benefit from a boost at 1 kHz.  Add a little house curve in the bass and a small cut in the highs, and the result sounds nothing short of outstanding.


Parrot Zik 2.0 app Director mode: building a user preset

The values in my corrections are as follow, and they offset the headphones’ inherent response very nicely.

Frequency Gain Q
25 Hz +3.0 0.69
149 Hz +1.9 1.95
535 Hz +1.5 2.00
1.0 kHz +6.0 2.00
10.0 kHz -1.9 0.40

The corrections above were my active preset while I gathered my listening impressions for this review.  For listeners who prefer extended sub bass response, the following curve also works very nicely (albeit perhaps a little less resilient to especially thickly voiced music).

  Directors Mode EQ Bass

Director Mode: extended sub bass response

Frequency Gain Q
20 Hz
167 Hz
1.0 kHz
1.9 kHz
15.1 kHz

For anyone looking to repeat my efforts, the values don’t have to be exact.  Although the corrections started with an eye on measurements, there was some trial and error, critical listening, and guesswork that went into refining the final filter values.  Your ears are different from mine, and your mileage may vary.

Just don’t do the smiley face shape thing with your EQ, please.  That sort of abominable blasphemy doesn’t make anyone happy.


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Recent Forum Posts:

gene posts on July 02, 2015 16:25
The Parrot Zik has been touted as the most technologically-advanced wireless headphones on the market. A recent redesign brings many improvements to an already impressive piece of hardware. These headphones have a wonderful sound. Their forte is in their features, but quite a bit of attention has been paid to sound quality via software.

Overall, the Parrot Zik 2.0 is very much worth an audition for Bluetooth listening from a smartphone or tablet if the app is compatible with your device.

Read: Parrot Zik 2.0 Bluetooth Over-Ear Headphones Review
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