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Dyson Zone review: A well-engineered curiosity

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £750
inc VAT

The Dyson Zone is a product like no other; the question is, will anybody actually buy a pair of air-purifying headphones?


  • Great sound quality and ANC
  • Amazing engineering
  • Comfortable


  • Look ridiculous with the visor on
  • Short air-purification battery life
  • Very expensive

Of all the products I’ve tested and reviewed over the years, the Dyson Zone is probably the oddest and, as a result, it has generated the most debate and discussion. In fact, when I first came across the Zone at a hands-on event in March 2022, the headphones were so outlandish that some thought they were an early April Fool’s Day joke.

Well, here we are more than a year later and, after a few false starts, the Dyson Zone is finally available to buy. The idea of air-purifying headphones is still as wild as ever – the intervening time has not diminished that feeling – but they do actually work and, as a pair of premium over-ear noise cancellers, they stack up pretty well.

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Dyson Zone review: What you need to know

To recap, here’s a quick overview of what the Dyson Zone is and how it works. Essentially, what we have here is a pair of headphones with air-purification technology built in; a sort of miniaturised air purifier you can take anywhere.

There are two tiny impellers (fans) built into each of the earcups on rubber vibration-absorbing mounts and, when the air purification function is enabled, these suck air through a filter and send pollution- and particulate-free air out through a visor that sits in front of your nose and mouth for you to breathe in.

The visor is detachable so you don’t always have to use the headphones in purification mode and, with it removed, the Dyson Zone resembles a regular (albeit pretty chunky) pair of premium over-ear headphones.

Like most other modern headphones, they work over Bluetooth, supporting the SBC, AAC and LHDC codecs. And they come with the usual selection of high-end features, including presence detection that pauses music automatically when you remove the headphones from your head and an awareness mode that lets in ambient sound so you don’t have to take off your headphones to hear what’s going on around you.

Charging takes place over USB-C via a slot on the edge of the left earcup, and you get up to 50 hours of audio playback via two rechargeable batteries built into the headband. Audio is controlled via a clickable mini joystick mounted on the rear edge of the right earcup, fan speed is adjusted via a button in the same position on the opposite side, and ANC can be toggled on and off with a firm double tap on either the left or right earcup.

Dyson Zone review: Price and competition

With all the engineering nous and research and development required to bring the Dyson Zone to market you’d expect them to be pricey, and they don’t disappoint in this regard. There are two options you can choose from. The “basic” model, finished in “Prussian blue”, is a whopping £750 and comes with the bare minimum of accessories: one set of filters, a cleaning brush, a USB-C cable for charging, a soft protective sleeve for the visor and a carry case for the headphones themselves.

This being Dyson, though, there’s also a more expensive option with extra bits and pieces, dubbed the Dyson Zone Absolute+. This model is finished with slightly snazzier copper highlights, costs £820 and comes with an extra pair of filters, the cleaning brush, USB-C cable and visor sleeve, plus a flight adapter kit, a larger hard travel case and a soft dust bag for protecting the headphones if you want to store them in a rucksack or travel bag.

This is a lot of money, even for a pair of premium ANC headphones. They’re more than double the price of our favourites, the Sony WH-1000XM5, which are currently £349. They’re more expensive than even the superlative Bowers & Wilkins PX8 at £699, while the popular Apple AirPods Max are a paltry £499 by comparison.

All are better headphones than the Dyson Zone. They’re lighter, more practical and generally sound better, too, but (of course) they don’t have personal air purification built in. If that’s what you want – or need – the Dyson Zone is your only option.

Dyson Zone review: Air purification

That’s why I’m going to focus on the air purification part of the Dyson Zone first. It’s undoubtedly the star of the show and a star that shines very brightly indeed.

No matter what you think of the product itself – most people I’ve shown it to think it is mildly ridiculous – it’s quite astonishing how Dyson’s engineers have managed to squeeze such a large amount of complex machinery into something that sits on your head without making it impractically large or heavy.

That doesn’t mean to say the Dyson Zone are light, though; inevitably they do carry with them a little extra mass. Without the visor attached, they registered 591g on my scales and with it, that weight rose to 668g. The Apple Airpods Max, which are among the heaviest premium headphones, are 388g, so that gives you some idea of the heft to expect.

One thing I wasn’t expecting when I first popped the Zone over my ears was just how wide they are. Indeed, I found they stuck out so far from my head that I was able to see the edges of the earcups in my peripheral vision. Your mileage may vary here, of course, but I found that disconcerting at first and, more than once, I had the feeling of someone or something hovering over my shoulder.

Fortunately, despite the weight and size, the Dyson Zone are pretty comfortable to wear. The padding under the headband spreads the weight well enough that there aren’t any pressure points, there’s just about the right amount of clamp force that they don’t feel too burdensome to wear for long periods, and the memory foam earpads create a good seal around your ears without discomfort arising from too much pressure.

If you want to know why they’re so large, you don’t have to look very far. Unscrew the perforated metal shroud on the outside of either of the earcups and you’ll see that, in addition to the 40mm drivers that sit right next to your ears, there’s also a small fan and a conical, dual-stage air filter stacked on top of that.

The filters are replaceable, they last up to a year per pair (or less if the air around you is particularly polluted) and they look like a miniaturised version of the filters you get in Dyson’s air-purifying fans. They comprise folded electrostatic HEPA and potassium-enriched carbon elements and are capable of filtering out pollutants such as ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and particulate matter such as pollen and diesel fumes down to 0.1 microns in size.

After the air is sucked through these filters by the fans, it’s jetted out through ports into the visor, where the two jets of air mix in front of your face for you to breathe in. All of this works without fuss or trouble. The visor docks elegantly into recesses in each earcup via two magnetised lugs and can be flipped down and out of the way if you want to talk to someone. Doing this also pauses your audio and puts the headphones into awareness mode so you can hear what’s going on around you without having to take them off.

There’s also motion sensing, which ramps up the speed of the fans to match your level of activity, with three settings available. The highest of these (3) only really kicks in when you’re walking quite vigorously; most of the time it sits at 2 when you’re walking and 1 when you’re standing still or sitting. You can see how much pollution is in your immediate vicinity via the MyDyson app, so you can keep tabs on when to use the visor and when it’s unnecessary.

I do have some issues, however, and the first surrounds the build quality of the visor itself, which feels pretty flimsy. It wouldn’t take much to break it, particularly the plastic lugs that anchor it to the earcups, so I took to putting it in my jacket pocket when not using it.

The other problem is that, although you can adjust the visor forwards and backwards – which helps it accommodate those with larger noses or longer faces – there’s no adjustment you can make either up or down other than to shift the position of the entire headset around on your head. For this reason, I’d encourage you to get yourself along to a Dyson store and try a pair to ensure it fits before spending your money.

The final problem with the air-purification system is that the Dyson app only shows you how much nitrogen dioxide you’re currently being exposed to, unlike the company’s fans, which also show 2.5um and 10um particulate levels. This will leave those keen to use the Zone to keep hay fever at bay guessing as to when to use the visor and when to take it off.

Does it work? Alas, I don’t have the capabilities to answer that question definitively but I can give some anecdotal impressions. First up, it is noticeable how much less stinky (for want of a better word) the air fed to your nose and mouth is than the diesel-infused air next to busy roads. I spent an hour walking alongside the six-lane A406 North Circular Road in London leading up to rush hour one Friday afternoon and, even though it was breezy and cool, I could smell the difference when flipping the visor up and down.

The broader question, though, is whether you can get over the embarrassment of walking down the street looking like this…

And the answer to that question will depend on two key factors: how desperate you are to reduce the amount of pollution or particulates you’re breathing in on a day-to-day basis and how much you care about what you look like. If your hay fever is bad enough that you’re considering purchasing something that looks so outlandish, however, then this is probably something you’re willing to put up with.

And I must say that walking down the street in central London wearing the Dyson Zone, I turned fewer heads than I had initially expected. That didn’t make me feel any less self-conscious, though.

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Dyson Zone review: Sound quality and noise cancellation

As compensation for looking ridiculous as you walk down the street, the Dyson Zone do sound pretty good. And that’s remarkable because these are the first headphones Dyson has ever manufactured. It would be entirely understandable for them to lag considerably behind Sony, Bowers & Wilkins and Apple on this front, all of which have been at this game for much longer.

However, there’s not really a huge amount in it. The bass needs a bit of a helping hand at times – even turning on Bass Boost doesn’t have the impact I’d have liked – and the sound is slightly flatter and more compressed than the very best premium headphones, but I’m picking nits here. There’s plenty of crisp detail in the treble without veering into sibilance or harshness, lots of richness for vocals and enough impact at the low end to satisfy most listeners.

And there’s certainly nothing wrong with the specifications. Audio reproduction is taken care of by 40mm drivers, angled towards the ear on each side. These have a frequency response of 6Hz to 21kHz and a total dynamic distortion of 0.08% at 94dB and 1kHz. You can connect them to your listening source via Bluetooth (SBC, AAC and LHDC codecs are all supported) or you can hook them up to a more serious source via a USB-C to 3.5mm cable.

Active noise cancellation, which you can toggle on and off with a firm double tap of the outside of either ear cup, is similarly impressive. If you listen hard enough, you’ll hear a low-level hiss as the ANC goes about its business but you’ll have to be in a very quiet room to pick it out and, in that case, you might as well turn off ANC anyway.

I compared the Zone back to back with a pair of Apple AirPods Max and an old pair of Bose QuietComfort 35 Series II, both of which deliver exceptional noise cancellation, and found the Zone were noticeably superior. They were especially effective at cutting out low rumble, such as that of aeroplane engines or passing traffic, where the Airpods Max and even the Bose let plenty of that in. This appears to be mainly a fit issue: while those other headphones have a slightly looser fit, the memory foam pads and clamping force of the Zone create a perfect seal around the ears that appears to completely eliminate low-level rumbling.

If anything, it’s the lack of flexibility that lets the Zone down in the end. The app lets you see the ambient noise levels and shows you how much sound level the headphones are generating but, when it comes to practical, audio-focused tools, the MyDyson app is sorely lacking. There’s no customisation of the control system to speak of, and you can only choose between three different EQ settings: “Enhanced”, “Bass boost” and “Neutral”. Disappointingly, there’s no way to set your own EQ.

READ NEXT: The best air-quality monitors on the market

Dyson Zone review: Battery life

Battery life is also a bit of a mixed bag. As a pair of headphones, the Dyson Zone perform pretty well. They’re rated for up to 50 hours of music playback over Bluetooth with ANC disabled, which is better than the Sony WH-1000XM5’s 40 hours.

But it probably won’t surprise you to hear that, with the air filtration system enabled, those figures plummet. In fact, you’ll get a maximum of four hours with the fans running at the lowest setting, 2hrs 30mins at medium and 1hr 30mins at maximum.

That doesn’t sound great but, actually, it doesn’t affect the practicality of the headphones too much, given you won’t be running the fans continuously. During testing, I was able to extract between one and two days of use out of them before they needed a top-up. That’s with using the air purification sporadically throughout the day, and listening to audio for around three to four hours with ANC enabled.

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Dyson Zone review: Verdict

They’re undoubtedly a little unhinged but, overall, I must admit I’m quietly impressed with the Dyson Zone. As a pair of premium ANC headphones they perform remarkably well, and the fact that Dyson has managed to squeeze in personal air-purification technology as well is, quite frankly, incredible. If you’re into your technology and engineering and think you might benefit from a cleaner air supply while walking to work or sitting on the Tube, then there’s nothing really quite like them to scratch your itch. As long as you don’t mind looking utterly ridiculous.

And therein lies the rub. You’re going to have to not care about what people think, or develop skin the thickness of a rhinoceros if you’re going to make full use of the Zone’s air-purification features. You’ll also have to put up with a fair few foibles. These are heavy headphones and they’re also very big. The visor makes them even bulkier and feels a touch flimsy at the same time, and the real-time air-quality monitoring via the app is limited.

The biggest barrier to entry, however, is the price, and that’s why in the final analysis my verdict on the Dyson Zone remains the same as it was when I got the chance to wear them last year. I just don’t see enough people in the UK having enough spare cash to spend on them, or the willingness to wear such things out in public. Time will ultimately tell, of course, but for now I’m marking them down as a well-engineered curiosity rather than a serious product people should buy.

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