Dyson Zone headphones with noise cancellation and air purification

Gear

Dyson's new headphones can also purify the air you breathe — for an eye-watering price

What did you expect? It’s a Dyson product. Of course, it’s expensive.

Dyson

Back in March, Dyson announced the Dyson Zone, its first pair of active noise cancellation (ANC) headphones. But unlike your typical pair of ANC headphones, like AirPods Max, or Sony’s WH-1000XM5, the Dyson Zone aren’t just for listening to music — they’re also a personal air purifier.

Dyson says the Zone headphones leverage its expertise in air purification technology while simultaneously tackling the growing issue of noise pollution in major cities. Today, the company finally revealed the Dyson Zone’s price and release date: starting at $949 and coming out first in China in January. The U.S., U.K., Hong Kong, and Singapore will have to wait until March 2023.

It’s a lot of bones for a pair of ANC headphones. But then again, these are ANC from Dyson — the company’s products are always premium-priced, and the Dyson Zone also has that fancy air purification system. Whether or not it works (Dyson is vocal that the system doesn’t protect from COVID) or necessary even in the most polluted cities is a different story.

Why does China get the Dyson Zone first?

There are two reasons why Dyson is releasing the Zone in China first. First, noise and air pollution are big concerns, especially in large megacities like Beijing and Shanghai. Though China has made strides to reduce air pollution, it’s still an issue that afflicts citizens daily — more than in other developed countries. In rapidly developing Chinese cities, these issues are among the most irritating.

Second, China’s economic boom over the past two decades has created a middle and upper-middle class with generous amounts of disposable income to spend on premium-priced devices like the Dyson Zone. Most people might look at the Zone (and Dyson products in general) as overengineered and overpriced, but to people with money to splurge, it’s luxury. Dyson has never pretended to sell anything but a premium lifestyle.

The headphones are designed to combat noise pollution and purify the air directly in front of your face.Dyson
Cyberpunk chic or cyberpunk weak?Dyson
The Dyson Zone without the air purification visor.Dyson

You would think India, which had 12 cities ranked in Earth.org’s top 15 most-polluted cities in the world 2021 list, would be the best place to sell headphones with a built-in air purifier. But considering the nation’s wealth distribution — there’s a massive wealth gap in the population with more poor than middle class or rich — it’s unlikely many people would be able to afford it, even if the Dyson Zone came out in India. So China first, then other noisy and polluted regions that have more potential customers second.

How long does the Dyson Zone battery last?

According to the company, the Dyson Zone will last up to 50 hours for audio-only. That impressive battery life drops down to 4 hours for audio and air purification. For comparison, AirPods Max lasts up to 20 hours with ANC on, and Sony’s WH-1000XM5 provides up to 30 hours of ANC listening on a single charge. Of course, neither Apple nor Sony’s ANC headphones have built-in compressors in their earcups for shooting jets of air through a visor to purify your personal breathing space.

Dyson is also promising “ultra-low distortion” audio with the Zone headphones. It’s a feature that every pair of headphones tout, so I’ll be the judge of that when I get a pair to test for review.

Pre-order by appointment only in the U.S.

Yep, that’s what Dyson is telling us. U.S. customers who are interested in the Dyson Zone will need to “pre-order by appointment” in March. Dyson says “shortly after” the Zone will be available at Dyson.com and Dyson Demo stores.

It’s a peculiar pre-order process. My guess is that Dyson wants people to try the headphones on to see if they really want, or need them. Again, they’re not regular ANC headphones with the whole air purification thing.

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