Are the Dyson Headphones Really Worth It?

dyson air purifier headphones review
Are the Dyson Headphones Really Worth It?Hearst Owned

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Dyson—a brand marketing machine—got lucky and released The Zone at the perfect time last year. These air-purifying headphones dropped back in April 2023, and a few months later, New York City—home to the loudest people on the internet—had the worst air quality across the globe (at the time). The gadget-testing media world flooded the streets to tell you whether these $800 headphones (now cheaper on sale) were worth it based on a hyper-specific geographic occurrence. (Full transparency, we wrote that story, too.)

But now that these headphones have been in the world for a full year, we wanted to revisit and ask the same question: Are the Dyson Zone air-purifying headphones actually worth it?

In short, they need work. The design and quality are standouts—like all Dyson products. It's less of a Dyson problem and more of the fact that the consumer audio space is boring, stagnant, and full of headphones that sound great but are just all the same in the end. Where Dyson pushed it is with the look and, of course, the fact that these do something else other than play music—they purify your air. I get it; they were going more for a futuristic statement than a sound statement.

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The Dyson Zone are airport lounge headphones.

Contrary to other reviews, I think these are incredibly comfortable headphones. They're heavy, but that's something I liked about them when I used them while traveling. I could lean my head up against an airplane window, and the headphones had enough body to protect me. The headband and tight ear cups dispersed the pressure really well.

I'll get to the air purifying part later, but when it comes to sound, I want good sound. Good sound can be subjective, but I describe good sound as full-bodied and warm. I want to feel a kick, strings to linger, and dramatic breath. Dyson's headphones were a bit soft compared to competitors. The noise canceling is phenomenal, and the sound is clear, but they just left me wanting more.

They almost sounded too clean, believe it or not. In the weeks leading up to this review, I've been into Kick Out the Jams, MC5's debut album, a proto-punk live recording from 1969. I wasn't alive for those shows (my parents barely were), but I've listened to the album enough to know that it feels big, loud, and revolutionary. The Dyson Zone—in all three EQ presets—made the record feel like a podcast I used as background noise writing articles.

In these headphones, everything sounded how sitting in a nice chair in the American Express Centurion Lounge felt, soft, crisp, and well-appointed. My girlfriend, who spends most of her listening time with podcasts and audio books, loved that sound. But music is nasty sometimes, and I want my headphones to let that shine through. These kept everything between the lines, and I always wanted them to give me a bit more.

Ok, what about the air purifying?

This is where I'm in awe of the minds over at Dyson. Not because I think it's a personal air bubble is an especially compelling idea. I think it's quite a negative idea, but it's a new idea. In a time when tech, especially consumer audio, is all about making the same products slightly better, Dyson went left. It tried something, and I love that.

The air purifying concept it tried is amazing because it's something you've never gotten on headphones before. And it really works. When I walk through the park, my headphones tell me they're filtering out pollen. When I walk down Bowery, they tell me how much NO2 is in the air. When my girlfriend jokingly blew cigarette smoke at me, the headphones kicked up a gear to filter it away. They do exactly what they are supposed to do, and they do it well.

That said, I never really wanted to use the air purifying. Maybe one day I'll care about all the shit I'm breathing in, but every time I popped the visor off to breathe that sickly New York City air, I felt totally fine. When I handed them off to friends, they all felt the same. It's not that these solve a nonexistent problem—city air quality sucks, and we're living in a world that recently saw an airborne pandemic. I just don't think it's a compelling enough problem to pit a giant band around your face. Wear this funny thing or have bad air? Bad air, please.

Final verdict: It's a great start.

As y'all can tell, I'm torn. Functionally, I think these are really comfortable headphones with a good user interface. Sonically, I don't love them. But I love that Dyson is always fast and first on trying new things.

What I think is already there is Dyson's design vision. Dyson designs for the future. Tech is at its most compelling and most divisive when it's designing for the future. Think about when Tesla's Cybertruck was first released. If people are divided, I think that's a good thing. People have called these headphones absurd and the dumbest product they've tested. Hell, I just tore into them a bit because I don't like the sound. But Dyson introduced something one-of-one. It's a product that no one else is making, and it looks unmistakably Dyson.

The vision might be an "apocalyptic future where we all want to listen to podcasts at a respectable level." Boring, but the evidence suggests that's where we're going. If Dyson keeps building out its audio category, I'm excited to see where it goes.

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