The Dyson Zone Is the Weirdest Product I Have Ever Reviewed

The Dyson Zone Is the Weirdest Product I Have Ever Reviewed

Say what you will about the aesthetic and function of Dyson’s first wearable, the Dyson Zone, but at least no one can say it’s boring. I have to admit that my thoughts on the Dyson Zone have been mixed and fluctuating since my original WTF reaction to the announcement last year.

The prototype headset I used In Malmsbury last year sounded terrible, but my past four months with various prototypes, finished models and major software updates have seen my entire opinion on this deeply weird gadget change in major ways. Some changes were for the good, some for the worse.

Here are my thoughts on the Dyson Zone after putting the finished model through its paces.

What is the Dyson Zone?

The Dyson Zone is a personal air purifier with built-in headphones. The two ear cups have HEPA filters that suck in the air from around you and then clean air is piped through the detachable visor. When the visor is attached, the headphones will use a variety of sensors to see whether you’re sitting, walking or running, and what the air quality around you is like, and adjust the fan speed accordingly.

Without the visor on, the batteries will last for around 50 hours of music playback with noise cancelling. On low flow, you can get around 4 hours of air purification, 2.5 hours on mid flow and 1.5 hours on high flow.

It’s… look, it’s pretty weird. It’s weird to look at and to wear, though you do adjust after a while.


  • Microphones: 8 Noise cancelling, 2 Noise reduction, 1 Telephony
  • Distortion: 0.08% at 94dB 1kHz
  • Total Attenuation: Up to 40 Decibel
  • Frequency Response: 6Hz – 21kHz
  • Height: 7.24 inches
  • Width: 11.81 inches
  • Weight: 1.4 lb

Dyson Zone Sound Quality

Close up of the Dyson Zone
Image: Alice Clarke/Gizmodo Australia

The Dyson Zone is first and foremost a head-mounted air purifier, but it is also a pair of headphones. If you’re interested in dropping up to $1400 for a pair of headphones to get the best sound quality possible, I have other recommendations (Sennheiser IE 600, Beyer Dynamics Amiron Wireless, heck, even Apple AirPods Max if they fit you properly).

Sound quality-wise I would put the Dyson Zone up there with a pair of very good $400-$500 over ears.

The noise cancelling is surprisingly good. That was my biggest complaint about early models, but there have been so many updates that I now think it’s roughly on par with the Sony XM4s, with better noise cancelling than the AirPods Max. That said, without music playing I can have full conversations with noise cancelling on and think that it’s on transparency. But, with music playing, it cut out more background conversations than the Sony XM4s, which used to be my main noise-cancelling example. I do wish the noise cancelling blocked out a bit more of the fan sound, though.

Transparency mode is merely fine. AirPods Pro 2nd generation really set the bar for transparency mode very high, and the Zone, which is roughly three times the price, just doesn’t live up to that standard. But it is roughly the same quality of transparency mode as the Sony XM4s, so it’s good enough.

When it comes to just listening to music in a quiet environment without the fans going, I’m actually much more impressed than I expected to be. The bass is rich, the upper ranges ring pretty clear. It doesn’t quite pass the same headphone tests as audiophile cans, but you can hear enough of a ghost of the details I look for on higher-end headphones that I’m still pretty darn impressed that these came from a company that doesn’t normally make headphones.

One thing that I don’t like about the Zone’s audio performance is that there’s a soft kind of fuzz at all times. There are never any true silences. It’s difficult to describe, but it has this vibe of there being a thin layer of foam between you and the music. It’s not a deal breaker by any means, but it is frustrating.

Testing on the Enhanced equaliser pre-set (which is my usual go-to for most genres on the Zone), I find instrumental songs like ‘Full Heart Fancy’ by Lucky Chops get too bogged down in the bass. On the Natural eq, I still need to focus a bit more to get the joy and the energy from the brass section, but all the sounds I normally look for are there, just prioritised a little differently than I’m used to.

On ‘Smoking Weed Alone’ by Tegan and Sara, the driving drumbeat doesn’t overwhelm the vocals, but is still very much present in the foreground in a really enjoyable way. It doesn’t have quite the same sense of space in the song as I’ve heard on some other headphones that support spatial, but it has more space in it than I’m used to in stereo headphones, and it’s a good balance to hit.

‘Maybe You Saved Me’ by Bad Suns & Pvris has even more of a sense of space, which is really welcome, because I find it can sometimes sound a bit squished on some headphones.

‘Chasing Twisters’ by Delta Rae is one of my usual headphone testing tracks, because it’s got a bit of everything going on, and the silent spaces between the notes in some sections are almost as important as the actual notes. That soft fuzz does get in the way of this track a bit, and it doesn’t fully reproduce the little growl I look for before the second chorus. But it does a good enough job that I’m happy enough with the reproduction.

All up, the Zone earns an A on sound quality and noise cancellation.

Air Purification

Dyson Zone with case closeup
Image: Alice Clarke/Gizmodo Australia

This is really the main reason to buy the Dyson Zone. There are better headphones out there, but there are no other head-mounted air purifiers with HEPA filters.

Out of the gate, I have to acknowledge that I don’t have a lab where I can test Dyson’s claims. They have many labs where they test stuff, though, and I saw a lot of those labs in the UK when I visited last year, and so it seems legit, but I can’t confirm anything.

What I can comment on is how it all feels.

Once you’ve magneted on the visor and adjusted it to the correct distance from your face, the cool air from the purifier is really nice. I particularly liked having the fresh air when I was on a flight recently, even through my mask.

The one-size-fits-most approach to the visor is a bit of a problem. There is no way to adjust the angle the visor is at without moving the headband of the headphones, so I find myself having to choose between a comfortable position of the band and having the visor in the right spot. Also, because the visor is clearly designed for a face shape different to mine, I really do have to decide whether it’s more important for the air to target my nose or mouth, which isn’t ideal.

Hopefully Dyson releases some other visor shapes and sizes in the future, and the second generation has a way to angle the visor independently of the headphones.

That said, if the visor fits your face properly, and you want a constant flow of purified air, the Zone seems very good for that.

Is the Dyson Zone good for COVID protections?

product on a windowsill
Image: Alice Clarke/Gizmodo Australia

It could be, but there needs to be more education around it first.

The Dyson Zone is not designed for COVID, which is weird, given the pandemic hasn’t ended, one in ten infections end in Long COVID (for which we have no treatment), we know that COVID causes neurological problems, and we know that COVID is airborne and spreads like smoke. A head-mounted air purifier sounds like just the kind of mitigation strategy that would really help.

But, here’s the thing: piping in clean air for yourself and leaving your exhalations to be everyone else’s problem during an airborne pandemic is a pretty dick move of ‘let them eat cake’ proportions. One-way masking isn’t as effective as two-way masking, and it’s made less effective when one of those people has a fan strapped to their face.

Some people have concerns that the Zone is some kind of ‘snot cannon’ that spreads your exhalations further than just regular breathing. The Zone does have a fan aimed at your nose and mouth, and while I can’t feel my breath going much further than usual from the visor doing an unscientific experiment with my hand on fan speed 1 (again, I do not have access to labs to test this stuff), I can’t imagine the fans aimed at our exhalations are doing nothing to the spread.

This is pretty easily solved by wearing the Zone with a high quality mask (like an N95 or P2). While wearing a mask with the Zone does mean the crispness of the air is somewhat dampened, it means that you can have that fresh, clean air without making your exhalations someone else’s problem.

Dyson has decided to not make the company’s custom Zone N95 mask attachments available in Australia, no doubt due to wanting to avoid TGA certification.

At first I was upset at this move, but having used the mask attachment, I can understand why it wouldn’t pass TGA inspection – there’s a plastic ring around the outside that makes it impossible to get a good seal. It is almost purely decorative.


Dyson Zone on a person's head
Image: Alice Clarke/Gizmodo Australia

The Zone is a really heavy pair of headphones, even without the visor on. A lot of work has clearly gone into balancing them, but I still get quite a bit of skull pain if I wear them for more than an hour at a time because of the weight pressing on the centre of my head. This gets worse when I have the visor on, because I have to put the headband in an uncomfortable spot to better position it.

Given the weight, though, it’s remarkable that they’re as comfortable as they are. But they’re not my first choice of headphones to wear for long periods of time.

Do we need the Dyson Zone in Australia?

I’m pleased to report that I haven’t really been anywhere in Australia yet where I’ve actually needed the purifier, because it turns out our air quality is pretty good. I live in the CBD, but even by busy roads or in Melbourne Central train station, the air quality meter in the app hasn’t gone above the green ‘safe’ zone. The only times I’ve needed a purifier was when I was cooking (and I just used the big purifier in my kitchen) and when I was on a plane to block out the weird ‘plane’ smell. In Singapore it was nice to deal with the humidity by getting some cooler, “fresh” air on my face, but even then the air quality only got into the low yellow levels.

It’ll probably be helpful during hayfever and bushfire seasons (though, I haven’t been able to test it during high pollen weather yet). Obviously, this changes if you frequently visit areas with poor air quality, like hanging out near a coal mine, a polluting factory, or go to countries with high pollution. Perhaps it might even be good for asthmatics who have trouble walking past outdoor smokers.

But, while having good air quality is great news in general, it does mean that it’s harder to justify the purchase of a Dyson Zone for most people who live in most parts of Australia.

Final verdict

product with visor next to case
Image: Alice Clarke/Gizmodo Australia

The Dyson Zone is quite obviously a first-generation product. There are a lot of fantastic ideas here, and the second generation will (hopefully) be utterly brilliant. If its headband was a bit more comfortable, it was designed to help mitigate the spread of airborne viruses, and it was easier to comfortably adjust the visor, it would be much easier to recommend.

As a pair of headphones on their own, there are headphones more comfortable that sound just as good available for less money. So, if you don’t think you need the other features, then the Dyson Zone is not for you.

However, the Dyson Zone isn’t just a pair of headphones, they’re a head-mounted air purifier that happens to include a pair of pretty good headphones, and there is nothing else out there I can compare that to. Asthmatics, people with severe hay fever, and people in high-risk categories for COVID and other viruses will really benefit from the Zone (as long as they wear it with a separate N95 mask). Those who work/live in or visit places with poor air quality would also benefit (again, with a mask). Our air quality is mostly pretty good in Australia, so it’s not as much of a must-buy as it would be in parts of, say, China. But come Spring, I’ll be definitely getting mine out to deal with the plain tree seeds.

The Dyson Zone is the weirdest product I have ever reviewed. I have never seen anything like it. But its purpose is clear, and there are some people who would benefit from it.


This article has been updated since it was first published

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