Living in a big city like New York, I've come to expect the strange smells, sudden honking, and air-quality warnings from the weather app. Yes, I'd rather not experience an onslaught to my five senses every time I leave my apartment, but it comes with the territory. But Dyson is hoping to change us city dwellers' general apathy toward the noise and air pollution with its latest gadget.
Introducing the Dyson Zone (£750), a pair of air-purifying, noise-canceling headphones that make you look like you stepped right out of a sci-fi movie. Besides delivering high-quality sound, the futuristic-looking device — which goes on sale Wednesday, 17 May — holds compact filters in the ear cups that remove pollutants from the air, which is then filtered back through a magnetic visor that sits in front of your nose and mouth so you can breathe in the fresh, purified air while you enjoy your favourite playlist.
The World Health Organisation states that a full 99 percent of people worldwide are affected by air pollution. And exposure can lead to serious health conditions such as stroke, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and cancer, according to the the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. So while the Dyson Zone may seem futuristic, it's really an attempt to solve a very real problem most of us face.
While air quality is particularly top of mind for many of us since the pandemic, the Dyson Zone is not a replacement for masks. For starters, the visor is noncontact, so it doesn't cover your mouth or nose entirely, and while it does filter out top pollutants, it doesn't capture viruses or filter the air you exhale.
With that in mind, is the £750 price worth it? Ahead, learn about the key features, what it's like to wear the Zone, and whether it's worth the investment.
How the Dyson Zone Works
Similar to an air purifier you might use in your home, the Zone works by drawing in air through dual-layer filters (that sit within the headphones), effectively capturing 99 percent of gases and particle pollution. From there the visor, which snaps into place via magnets, recirculates the cleaned air to your "breathing zone." When you need to interact with people, you can easily pull down the visor to activate the conversation mode, which pauses the music automatically. If you'd rather use it as headphones only, the visor is a bendable attachment that's easy to store.
The device connects to the MyDyson app, which has a dashboard that tracks the air quality and noise levels of your surroundings. It also lets you know when to replace the filter and when to recharge the battery, which lasts up to four hours when you're using purification, but up to 50 hours when you're using just audio. The Dyson engineer I spoke to said the filter would need to be replaced after about a year of regular use.
What's Worth Noting About the Dyson Zone
The Zone is definitely heavier than the average headphones at 585 grams, almost 1.3 pounds (without the visor). For context, the AirPods Max are considered to be on the heavier side and weigh in at 385 grams, or less than a pound. But surprisingly, the weight isn't that noticeable while wearing it. The headphones' cushions are plush and comfortable to slip over the ears.
The thing that would take time to get used to is the visor, which keeps the Dyson Zone from feeling like a regular pair of headphones.
When I stepped outside the Dyson store to test out this bad boy I didn't receive too many stares — despite looking like Bane from Batman. The magnetic visor is easy enough to click into place and remove when not in use. The rush of air feels like it's coming through a vent and adds a cooling factor. And because of the noncontact, you don't feel claustrophobic or have to worry about messing up makeup during a commute.
Is the Dyson Zone Worth the Splurge?
As far as headphones go, the engineering is phenomenal. As a music-lover, I typically make my way around the city with my Marshall's over-the-ear headphones or Apple AirPods. The sound of those options is nothing compared to the Dyson Zone. The difference is in the attention to detail. The ultra-low distortion and the neutral sound profile mean the audio sounds exactly like it would if you listened to it in a recording booth.
But my favourite part is the noise cancellation. With the "isolation" feature turned on I felt like I was in a vacuum (no Dyson pun intended). I watched as the city sped around me on the sidewalk and no sound could reach me. According to Dyson, it can reduce noise by roughly 40 decibels. This technology is super helpful if you are oversensitised easily, especially in a busy city.
In terms of the air-purifier feature, Dyson claims it can help mitigate exposure to air pollution. But when asked how consistently you'd have to use the visor to reap the health benefits, Dyson wasn't able to provide third-party research. And again, it's no substitute for an N95 if COVID prevention is your top concern. But the face visor did feel nice, and I bet it'd be an especially big benefit in the summer heat.
On the way home from the demo, I caught a whiff of something foul on the subway and wished I had taken a Dyson Zone to-go. But realistically, I'm not sure how likely I would be to whip out the visor during my commute. But for someone looking for high-quality headphones, which can get pretty spendy, they may be able to justify the high price tag.
Ultimately, only time will tell if the Zone will become a status symbol (in a bad way) or a viral sensation (hello TikTok). I mean, I thought the Dyson Airwrap was expensive, and now I can't live without mine!
Where is the Dyson Zone Available?
The Dyson Zone headphones are available in two colour combinations (Ultra Blue & Prussian Blue or Prussian Blue & Bright Copper) at Dyson.com.