You like great audio and you love fresh air, so why not combine both into one out-there piece of tech? That's Dyson's pitch for its new dystopian sci-fi headphones that feature an air purification mask. The Dyson Zone looks scary, and the price is astronomical, but is Dyson onto something?
We first caught sight of these Dyson Zone headphones back in March and at first considered this contraption an early April Fools. At the time Dan wrote, "the whole thing looks just about as ridiculous as it sounds".
Just as scary is the price – it'll cost you $949 / £749 next March when Dyson Zone goes on sale – you can pre-order at Dyson. Considering you can buy AirPods Max or Focal Bathys and Bose for half the price, clearly Dyson Zone is not just for audiophiles. That personal air-purifying system adds a cost, but it's one many in cities, particularly those not up to environmental standards, will eye with cautious optimism.
The Dyson Zone is a new idea and I like new ideas, so there's a part of me that really hopes this is the start of something new. Pollution is still on the rise and anyone who's sat on the London Underground will attest, having your own air purification system on the go could be a welcome refresher. But, oh boy, does it have to look like something Darth Vader needs to take a breath?
The Dyson Zone looks horrifying, there's no doubt about it – you won't strike up a chat with someone wearing this in the street. It's also anti-mask in a sense, as masks are there to protect others, the Dyson Zone is designed to protect you.
But, these five-year-in-development headphones solve two of modern life's biggest problems – noise and unhealthy air pollution. The headphones are comparable to some of the best noise-cancelling headsets around at the moment, for example the eight microphones monitor external noise 384,000 times a second to reduce any unwanted sound. So the headphones are excellent.
The air purification visor can be attached and detached for comfort, and so you don't always look like a Star Wars extra on the way to Comic-Con. Dyson obviously knows a thing or two about air systems and electronics, and its air purifier visor boasts of removing pollutants as small 0.1 microns, which is impressive. If you desire cool and clean airflow across your mouth and nose anywhere, Dyson Zone could be for you.
Dyson has been developing its airflow headphones for over five years, long before Covid-19 and actually the vacuum cleaner maker doesn't claim Dyson Zone will combat such viruses. This is about clean air and pollution. And if you think the final design looks like an Orwellian nightmare then take a look at the various designs (above) that Dyson tested and evolved.
While it's fun to cast a cynical eye over the weird design of the Dyson Zone, the problem it aims to overcome is real and present. According to the UN environmental research over 99% of the world's population live in cities with higher than recommended pollution. Good design sets out to solve problems in new ways, and Dyson Zone certainly does this. As a first-step towards cleaner personal air (and great audio) the Dyson Zone is interesting and should be encouraged. Would I wear one? Nope. Will I wear Dyson Zone 'version three' in five years? Maybe.
If you're looking for more conventional headphones, then take a look at our guide to the best noise cancelling headphones. We also have a tracker for the best cheap AirPods 3 prices for those who want the new Apple device for less.