Dyson Zone air-purifying headphones: everything we know so far
Dyson has unveiled its first-ever piece of wearable tech with the Dyson Zone air-purifying, noise-cancelling headphones.
These sci-fi-looking cans could tackle one the biggest issues of city living – providing air-purifying filters to improve the quality of the air you breathe in and noise-cancelling capabilities to drown out the noise pollution you face on your morning commute or outside jog.
The company claims that the Zone will deliver an audio performance to rival some of the best headphones out there as well as a mask that could outpace the Razer Zephyr in terms of fashion and function.
Here’s everything we know about the Dyson Zone air-purifying headphones so far.
Dyson Zone: price
In April 2023, Dyson set the price of its Dyson Zone air-purifying, noise-cancelling headphones, at 949.99 in the US. It also offers the Dyson Zone Absolute Bundle for the price of 999.99.
Dyson Zone: release date
The Dyson Zone air-purifying headphones were released in the US in April 2023 and are expected to become available in the UK on May 17.
We’ll be sure to keep you up to date with everything as we hear it, but you can also register your interest at Dyson US or Dyson UK if you want to be sure you’re as up-to-date as possible.
Dyson Zone: audio performance
The Dyson Zone are set to offer a mix of premium features for audiophiles and the health-conscious alike.
While we haven’t been able to test these headphones for ourselves to verify the claims, Dyson is already making bold promises about the audio performance the Zone can deliver. Specifically, it says that the device’s “high performing neodymium electroacoustic system” can deliver audio as the artist intended.
This likely means high-fidelity (or lossless) audio support, and potentially some form of spatial audio support to create a realistic soundstage – again, though, we’ll have to wait and see.
Much like other noise-cancelling cans, the Dyson Zone will have three options: Isolation, Conversation, and Transparency. Isolation, as you can guess from the name, will be the highest level of noise cancellation, for when you want a fully immersive audio experience.
Conversation mode is switched on when you pull down the air-purifying visor; the air purification will switch off and the voices around you will be amplified. Lastly, Transparency mode will let you stay aware of your environment. it’s designed to amplify key sounds like emergency service sirens or informational announcements.
Dyson Zone: air purification
As for air purification, Dyson says that the Zone can capture 99% of particle pollution including dust, pollen, and bacteria, and can filter city gasses like NO2, SO2, and O3. It does this using two motors that sit inside the earcups.
The visor that provides the air purification also comes with in-the-box add-ons to modify it for different scenarios. There’s the regulator visor, a face-covering attachment that forms a seal around your face, and an FFP2-compliant face covering to meet certain filtration standards.
The Zone will offer four air-purifying modes: Low, Medium, High, and Auto. As the headphones are designed with fitness in mind, the Auto mode will automatically switch between the different settings based on the information from the onboard accelerometers. So, if you’re running and breathing heavily, the Zone will toggle to the High setting to filter air more quickly as you inhale and exhale rapidly.
If you want to FOCUS on the music and don’t need the air purification at all, then the visor can be detached.
Dyson Zone: battery life
We don’t yet have any details about battery life, but we suspect it could sit toward the lower end of the scale – especially if you have ANC and air-purifying settings turned up as high as they’ll go.
As such, we’d be surprised if these cans could boast a battery life longer than 10 hours under these conditions. That said, with the visor detached and ANC off you might see a performance that’s more in line with regular wireless headphones like the Sony WH-1000XM4, which offer up to 38 hours of playback.
We’ll just have to see what Dyson announces as we get closer to the release date.
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Dyson Zone hands-on: We tried Dyson’s new air purifying headphones
Dyson’s newest device combines a powerful air purifier and ANC headphones into a single, remarkable headset.
By Mike Epstein | Published Mar 30, 2022 1:00 AM EDT
Dyson’s newest device, the Dyson Zone, combines a personal air purifier and noise-canceling headphones. Dyson
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Dyson, the stylish appliance-maker known for powerful statement-piece vacuums and TikTok-coveted hair straighteners, wants to help you keep car exhaust out of your lungs on your morning commute. Its newest product, the Dyson Zone, is a personal air- and noise-pollution purifier—a strange-looking headpiece to keep smog out of your lungs and traffic out of your ears. The air purifier pulls air through its filter and then blows it directly into your nose and mouth, ensuring that what you breathe lacks the particles and gasses from car emissions and other pollutants. Meanwhile, it also acts as a set of Bluetooth active noise-canceling headphones to keep crowd noise and, again, excess noise from nearby cars, from impacting your hearing.
The Zone is, in many respects, a first for Dyson. It is the company’s first wearable product. It is also the company’s first product primarily made for outdoor use. The motors, which you can see running in the center of each ear cup, are the smallest that Dyson’s ever produced. Though the device seems quite large compared to an average pair of Bluetooth headphones, every millimeter of the device is packed to the gills with tech. Personal air purifiers and noise-canceling headphones already abound. Like everything Dyson makes, though, the Zone’s unique design is unlike anything we’ve ever seen.
A personal air ‘bubble’
The Dyson Zone’s air purification system reminds me of science fiction “rebreathers” that allow characters to breathe in space or underwater without bulky helmets. Motorized fans pull air into the headphone ear cups and through a pair of custom-made dual-layer filters, then push the clean air through the plastic tunnel in front of your face called a visor and out into your nose and mouth. According to Dyson, the quick, continuous stream of air flowing directly from the filter into your body creates a “bubble,” ensuring that you breathe the purified air without it dispersing as it leaves the headset. Dyson engineers have taken measures to direct the air as much as possible—the air exit hole on the visor features rubber flaps that prevent it from dispersing too fast, for example. Still, the Zone effectively cleans your air and pumps it directly into your body without actually covering or even touching your nose and mouth.
Dyson created a replaceable dual-layer filter for the Zone, which it claims can filter out 99 percent of particulate matter at.1 microns or larger, which covers pollutants you might not be aware of like particulate matter created every time a car hits its brakes and the pads rub against the rotors. Assuming that’s accurate, it provides the same level of filtration as Dyson’s waist-height home air purifiers. The compact, donut-shaped filters feature two layers of material to capture pollutants: a HEPA-style filter to grab particulate matter and a carbon filter enriched with potassium to absorb harmful gasses, such as nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and Ozone (O3).
According to Dyson Engineering Manager Vicky Gibson-Robinson, creating an effective filter in such a compact form factor required a new design that purifies air differently than Dyson’s home purifiers. In order to compensate for the small filter size, which restricts air flow, the filter features an electrostatic charge that pulls particles out of the air as it passes through the more breathable filter material.
The Zone protects against pollution, not necessarily COVID
At a glance, you might assume that the Zone, like the Razer Zephyr and the recent wave in UV cleaning devices, is a reaction to COVID-19. That’s a totally reasonable response, but one that Dyson would like to put out of your mind. The device was conceived with an eye toward providing protection against environmental pollutants—particularly in urban centers where cars and industrial pollution are hard to avoid. In fact, the development team has spent more than five years working on the Zone. The project began well before the pandemic led to mainstream masking initiatives.
importantly, the Zone does not prevent the spread of COVID. While its filtration is akin to an N95 mask on paper, it is not rated for medical-grade respiration. importantly, the headset doesn’t cover your mouth, so it can’t suppress the particles in your breath from spreading to others.
That said, the Zone development team did react to the rise of wearing masks as a reaction to COVID. It comes with a mask attachment, allowing you to take extra precautions and comply with masking laws. Still, Dyson is going against the grain by not marketing the Zone as an anti-COVID precaution and drawing firm lines between what the headset can and cannot do.
What about the ‘noise pollution’ part?
The Zone’s air filtration system is what makes the device fascinating, but Dyson bills the Zone as a solution for air and noise pollution. Its protection against noise pollution is more conventional. In addition to the motors and filters, it is a fully functional pair of Bluetooth headphones with active noise cancellation. That means it can connect to your phone–yes, there is an app–play music, make calls, and do anything else that one of the best Bluetooth headphones can. The front-facing visor, which pumps air into your mouth, is removable, so you can choose to use the Zone purely for its noise-canceling properties.
Like most ANC headphones, it offers a fair amount of passive protection simply by covering a listener’s ears. The active noise cancellation relies on a microphone array that listens to incoming noise and allows the headset to first analyze then partially negate it. As you might expect, the Zone is very large compared to other headphones, which might be annoying for off-head portability, but works in its favor as a means of keeping sound out.
While its functionality is fairly conventional, the design needed to make the headset work as everyday-carry speakers and an air purifier lead to some interesting design challenges. First and foremost: The motors that power the filtration system reside in the earcups, less than an inch away from the headphone speakers and your ears. Motors, as you may know, tend to get noisy and vibrate: Noticing the motors in any way would basically kill the whole design, right? To keep the motors from ruining the wearer’s day, they are mounted with rubber, which absorbs the vibration and much of the noise.
What’s it like wearing the Dyson Zone?
Dyson asked to meet with PopSci in early March to show off the Zone and explain its design to us. They also let us try it on and walk around a bit. (Sadly, we were not allowed to take any selfies.)
Despite its hefty appearance, the Zone actually felt fairly light on-head during the few minutes I wore it. Using three pads to distribute its weight across your head, it felt balanced without pulling my head forward or to the sides. That doesn’t negate its size—you will never forget that you are wearing a piece of headgear—but I expect that it should be comfortable to wear long-term, throughout the day.
The Zone filtration system features three breathing modes, which pump more or less air depending on your preference or environment. At “low,” you barely notice the air shooting at your face. At “mid,” it felt like a gentle breeze. At “high,” the air flow was very noticeable, to the point where some might find it distracting. In all three settings, the flow is comfortably soft. Since no portion of the breathing apparatus touches your face. Your breathing intake never feels suppressed, as it can with a mask. The Zone does feature an “auto” setting that will change the setting as needed but, obviously, you can adjust it using onboard controls or the Dyson Zone app.
As a pair of headphones, the Zone seemed solid. I only listened to a few clips of songs for maybe a minute of total airtime, but the sound quality seemed on par with a good pair of Bluetooth headphones. Sound quality is probably a secondary concern to most people interested in wearing a large air purifier on their head, but a crackly sound might break the experience. Crucially, though, you could not hear the dull hum of the motor with active noise-canceling and/or music turned on.
I have to admit, it’s a bit jarring when you first put the full headset on. The front visor is large enough that it’s in your field of vision when you glance down. In the mirror, it kind of looks like the bones of an astronaut’s helmet, since there’s a large curved piece of plastic in front of your face and an outsized set of cans on your head. In a world where a large number of people got used to wearing masks when leaving the house, however, I’m confident that most people would take to it quickly.
As I mentioned before, the front visor is also detachable. By gently pulling it down, you can simply remove it at any time. When you do, the Zone automatically cuts filtration so it doesn’t run unnecessarily and it’ll kick back on when you reattach. The only instance I can think of for removing the visor without taking off the headphone would be working out—in theory, the Zone should supply enough air for you to jog while wearing it at high output—but Dyson said it isn’t made for exercise. (That said, I imagine you might want to wear earbuds or at least a smaller pair of cans at the gym?)
Final thoughts on the Dyson Zone
I am not an engineer but, at a glance, the Dyson Zone looks like a systematic marvel. It does things I wouldn’t have thought possible—cleaning the air you breathe without sealing out the unfiltered air around you—in a remarkably efficient and compact design.
The question of whether or not it will appeal to people broadly, as it isn’t medically minded, still feels very up in the air to me. While Dyson makes a very convincing case for getting city dwellers and suburbanites to wear a device like this and protect their lungs … well, it’s a large honking headset and will definitely draw some eyeballs when you wear it in public.
There are also some questions in the air about the device and its design. According to Dyson, you will need to replace the Zone’s custom filters about once a year, assuming you use it for about six hours a day. We have no idea how much those filters will cost, though, or if they’ll be readily available (a key point of concern in these supply-constrained times). Dyson was also very vague about the Zone’s battery life, though they suggested it should last “all day” even when using air filtration and sound.
Dyson hasn’t revealed a price for the headset yet, but my assumption is that it will be prohibitively expensive for many compared to regularly buying N95 masks. That said, it may not need to see wide adoption to trigger a wider interest in personal air purification as protection against long-term environmental factors.
When can I get a Dyson Zone?
The Dyson Zone will launch in select countries in fall 2022. Dyson said it plans to reveal more details about the launch, including the price of the headset and replacement filters, “in the coming months.”
As Reviews Editor, Mike Epstein helps shape Popular Science’s gear-focused coverage, including product reviews and roundups. He’s covered the consumer technology and video games industry for over ten years, writing reviews and service-focused articles for sites like IGN, Gamespot, Lifehacker, Gizmodo, PCMag, LaptopMag, Variety, and more.
Dyson Zone will purify your air while canceling noise — but it’ll cost you
Back in March 2022, Dyson revealed that it was working on a pair of noise-cancelling headphones with wearable air purifier called Zone. Although we attended an event to get the inside track and some Dyson Zone hands-on time, the company was vague about revealing the full specs and giving out the likely release date.
Update (April 2023): March has come and passed, but Dyson confirmed that the Dyson Zone will be available in the U.S. starting April 27.
Dyson Zone: Price and availability
for the British company’s latest innovation start at 949 (£749/AU1,360), and will go on sale in China from January 2023. You’ll be able to get it in either an Ultra Blue/Prussian Blue color or a Prussian Blue/Bright Copper model.
The Zone air-purifying headphones were originally going to be on sale in late 2022; this date was pushed back to March 2023, but is now confirmed for April 27, 2023, according to PCMag.
Dyson Zone: Wearable air purifier
Dyson is perhaps best known to the world for the bagless vacuum cleaner, not noise-cancelling headphones. When I first saw the news on the Dyson Zone, I figured it was a bizarre-looking innovation developed to provide a solution to the strange masked-up world we all inhabited throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
But a closer inspection of the full specification sheet just released tells the story of a product that’s been in development for 5 years, and engineered to tackle the dual challenges of city noise and air pollution, not airborne virus particles and droplets.
Dyson’s Zone air purification headphones claim high-efficiency filtration to tackle pollution on-the-go. The detachable visor projects purified air to the wearer’s nose and mouth, while potassium-enriched carbon filters target the most prevalent gases associated with city pollution.
As audio editor, I’m not qualified to comment on the Zone’s air purification claims, but from a noise-cancelling headphone perspective they tick plenty of boxes, and the specs appear comparable to the best noise-cancelling headphones on the market.
Dyson Zone: Audio and battery life
Frequency range claims to cover 6Hz to 21kHz, which seems reasonable enough. Dyson says that the drivers deliver detail, and a unique EQ setting optimizes the frequency curve for clear, pure audio across the full frequency range. There are 8 microphones taking care of noise cancelling and are said to monitor surrounding sounds 384,000 times a second. Hear-through transparency and auto-detect modes are on board.
The MyDyson app can be used to adjust airflow speed and noise-cancellation mode as well as adapt the audio equalization to preference, choosing from three modes: Dyson EQ (enhanced), Bass Boost, and Neutral. You can also opt-in to loudness limit in line with aural health guidance.
Battery life is said to provide up to 50 hours in noise cancelling mode only, or 4 hours of combined purification and audio run-time. Recharging takes around 3 hours and is via USB-C.
Dyson Zone: Design
The audio credentials look all well and good, but from what images I’ve seen of the styling I’m not much of a fan the earcups — they almost look like they come from one of the company’s vacuum cleaners and appear to be far too chunky to me. Nor do I like the color combos as they stand, which run to two colorway options available at retailers in satin silver/ultra blue, and ultra blue/Prussian blue. A Prussian blue/bright copper will be available only from Dyson directly.
One thing that really strikes me as odd about the design is the overall weight. Dyson claims the weight without the air purification visor is 595g (around 1.3 pounds), which is twice the weight of the top noise-cancelling headphones I’ve worn from popular brands such as Sony, Bose, and Sennheiser.
Add on the air purification visor and the weight jumps up to over 1.4 pounds, which by my calculations is heading towards the average weight of a motorcycle helmet. This seems pretty heavy for long city commutes, so I’ll be interested to assess comfort levels when the time comes. Look out for my full review coming in 2023.
Dyson Zone: Outlook
For now I reserve any judgement or further analysis until I experience the Dyson Zone air-purifying headphones in the flesh and place them on my ears.
The air-purifying headphones will be available at dyson.com, Dyson Demo Stores and Dyson Mall Demo Zones.
Not an April Fool: Dyson announces apocalyptic filter-headphone combo
In an announcement timed dangerously close to April 1, Dyson confirmed this week that it is working on the Dyson Zone, one of the most intense consumer-facing masks we’ve ever seen. What’s more, the company elected to combine this face-mounted air purifier with its first noise-canceling headphones—which contribute to the filtering process.
At least one outlet says it tested this perfect addition to your Mega Man cosplay project, which suggests this is an actual product and not an April Fool’s joke. Curiously, the world’s first face-on impressions of the device, as provided by The Verge, recount the company’s press release spiel before getting to the heart of why a face-dominating system like the Dyson Zone has us apprehensive.
The Zone headphones are very big and noticeably heavy, The Verge’s Chaim Gartenberg says, and a single look at this head-mounted system clarifies why that might be the case.
Once a face mask has to reinforce a firmer piece of solid material anywhere near the mouth, chin, or jaw, it runs squarely into the issue of comfortable weight distribution. I’ve done a lot of head-mounted device testing at Ars Technica with this issue in mind, with my highest comfort score going to the clever halo construction of Playstation VR and my lowest grade going, funnily enough, to another battery-powered face filtration system, the Razer Zephyr.
Dyson appears to one-up the Zephyr by at least using headphones to brace its Zone system with a top-of-head strap and earcups, and Dyson’s literature suggests careful engineering to spread weight over that strap. But unlike other popular noise-canceling headphones, Dyson‘s first stab at the product category includes a filtration-focused airflow system. This draws air through dust-specific filters in the earpiece, then funnels that air toward the nose and mouth (through a bulky-looking pair of cheek-lining plastic pieces, which Dyson says do not touch the face) where further filtration awaits. As Gartenberg notes, this airflow system requires compressors, and these not only add weight but generate sound that the headphones’ noise cancellation doesn’t necessarily cancel out.
It’s unclear whether the compressors’ noise muffles a wearer’s speech, which is a major reason why I don’t recommend the first-generation Razer Zephyr. Additionally, The Verge’s Dyson Zone test did not clarify how quickly heat generates, either by trapping air on the face or from its built-in battery. For comparison, the Razer Zephyr includes a pair of small fans that improve airflow within a plastic, semi-transparent trap; fog and heat can accumulate without these on, but the resulting noise makes conversations difficult when they’re turned on.
A good way to be left alone on the bus
To Dyson’s credit, this head-mounted system targets air pollution, not viral particulates, as a reason for daily use. And I could see its aesthetic being tolerable when air pollution is part of a public transit commute where users already block out people via music or podcasts.
However, Dyson Zone by default is not an N95- or KN95-rated masking system due to its not touching the face design (it has open pathways between the earpiece air intake and a wearer’s nose and mouth). The best Dyson offers is a separate attachment to turn the system into a proper, full-contact face mask, Gartenberg reports. While that will better streamline the filter’s FOCUS on airborne particulates, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be anywhere near hospital-grade upon shipping (and its advertising materials are careful not to suggest as much).
Dyson’s announcement says the project began in 2016, well before the COVID-19 pandemic, as a snorkel-like clean air mouthpiece paired with a backpack to hold the motor and inner workings. Dyson Zone has clearly shifted into a less terrifying state in the years since, even if its facial lining obscures the all-important social cues of a wearer’s mouth.
The same announcement doesn’t suggest we should expect further revisions to the model Gartenberg tested before its global launch in fall 2022. Once it arrives, the world will be able to answer whether Dyson Zone’s weird design, noisy filters, and (importantly) Dyson’s first portable audio system combine into something worthwhile for pollution-wary commuters.
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