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A photo of the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus on a stand.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys

Dyson Zone Absolute Plus review

Decent headset, with an albatross attached to its front.
By
January 17, 2024
5.8
Dyson Zone Absolute Plus
The bottom line
This product is meant for a very specific kind of consumer: If you're looking for headphones and don't care so much about the air purifier, then you probably want to look elsewhere. On the off-chance you are looking for headphones with a built-in air filter, the implementation here is of fairly limited value.

Dyson Zone Absolute Plus

This product is meant for a very specific kind of consumer: If you're looking for headphones and don't care so much about the air purifier, then you probably want to look elsewhere. On the off-chance you are looking for headphones with a built-in air filter, the implementation here is of fairly limited value.
Release date

2023

Price

$799

Dimensions

Case: 267 x 235 x 76 mm

Headphones: 101 x 300 x 184mm

Ear cup: 65 x 50 mm

Weight

595g without visor,

670g with visor

Model Number

WP01

Waterproof
What we like
Sound is okay
What we don't like
Very heavy
Huge size
Loud filter
"Contactless visor" pops off often
Price
5.8
SoundGuys Rating
6
User Rating
Rating Metric
Our Rating
User Rating
Isolation / Attenuation
6.9
10.0
10.0
Active Noise Cancelling
8.4
10.0
10.0
Durability / Build Quality
3.6
-
0.0
Value
1.9
1.0
1.0
Design
7.0
3.0
3.0
Connectivity
7.5
-
0.0
Portability
4.0
-
0.0
Battery Life
9.9
-
0.0
Feature
7.5
-
0.0
Comfort
2.9
-
0.0
Overall Sound Quality (MDAQS)
5.3
-
0.0
Immersiveness (MDAQS)
6.5
-
0.0
Distortion (MDAQS)
2.3
-
0.0
Timbre (MDAQS)
7.3
-
0.0

Looking at headphone reviews over the last year, you might have noticed that Dyson released a very odd-looking set of air-purifying headphones with an attached breathing apparatus. Though they look more like a sci-fi prop than headphones, are the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus any good? Let’s take a look to see.

Editor’s note: this is the first version of the article. Updates will follow as the market changes.

About this Dyson Zone Absolute Plus review: We tested the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus over six days. The headphones ran firmware version 0571PF.01.14.002.0001, and the MyDyson app ran version 6.2.23480. The company provided the unit for this review.

The Dyson Zone Absolute Plus is a product that is geared toward a narrow segment of users, mainly those who live in areas with high levels of air pollution. If you’re sensitive to pollution or smoke and come across either regularly, the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus may have something to offer you.

What’s it like to use the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus?

If you take anything away from this review, it’s that these headphones are less than the sum of their parts. Dyson needs to focus better on how its users will experience this product. The Dyson Zone Absolute Plus may appeal to some people but will be a source of derision for far more.

A photo of the detachable visor of the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
The detachable visor is made of light plastic and magnets.

It’s important to note that the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus must have been conceived as a personal air filter first and headphones second, as there are several issues with both products working together. You’ll notice that the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus is gargantuan, weighing in at about 670g (1.5 lbs); this product is not built for long-term comfort but is intended for a commute and little else. Though the headphones come with accessories that allow you to use them on a flight, I could never wear them for longer than two hours without getting a headache.

A photo of the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus' ear pads.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
The ear pads do most of the heavy lifting as the band isn’t padded much.

You probably won’t be surprised to hear that metal construction is the main culprit behind the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus’s immense mass. Because the headphones are so large, there’s quite a lot of material — something that adds mass quickly when talking about aluminum or steel. To ameliorate the mass issue, Dyson hoped to make ultra-plush micro suede padding around the ears to handle most of the load. However, this is a bandage solution — over time, that foam will fatigue, and other contact points will shoulder the burden. And in that regard, you may be left wanting, as the padding on the band is relatively thin.

A chart showing the masses of other popular ANC headphones versus the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus.
The AirPods Max are heavy, but the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus are almost twice the mass.

However, there’s a lack of silicone and rubber, as the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus only carries an ingress protection rating of IP51, which means it can’t withstand much more moisture than incidental condensation. This isn’t a headset that’s built for the elements.

Inside the packaging of the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus are the headphones, the Smart Visor and a pouch for it,  a carrying purse/case, a USB-C charging cable, a 3.5mm to USB-C cable, an airplane adapter, two sets of electrostatic carbon filters, a visor cleaning brush, and some documentation.

What’s it like to use the air filter function?

The Dyson Zone Absolute Plus stores its filters in the backs of the ear cups.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
The Dyson Zone Absolute Plus has filters in the backs of its ear cups.

The headphones take air in and pass it through the filter inside the back of the ear cup. This air is piped into vents that attach to the visor on either side, pushing filtered air out toward your mouth and nose. This filter is replaceable and can be found on the Dyson website for $19.99 — though the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus comes with two sets out of the box. In practice, the air tended to get redirected toward my eyes, making the recent arctic outflow a little less bearable on the subway when it inevitably dried my eyes out.

But here’s where we get to the crux of the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus. The air purifier is not a medical device, nor can it protect you from viruses, bacteria, or other airborne pathogens. Its primary function is to get some filtered air to your nose and mouth while you’re out and about — that’s it. In that sense, it’s easy to be unkind to the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus because when people see “air purifier,” they often equate it with the larger HEPA filter units. The visor doesn’t seal to your face, so there’s still an opportunity for pollutants and other unwanted gunk to get in.

A man with blue sunglasses wears the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
It’s too bad there’s no built-in voice changer for the inevitable Bane impersonations.

While I’m skeptical of the idea of headphones with extra parts, I was happy that the visor relies on magnets — and not something more permanent and easily breakable — to align the air ducts and keep it attached. These magnetic couplings also rotate, so you can easily pull the visor off. You’ll probably find yourself doing this often, as the visor attracts a lot of attention. Because the world isn’t quite used to (or arguably ready) this kind of tech, you’ll find strangers coming up to you asking about the headphones and how (or if) they work.

Some things are just too attention-grabbing and strange to ignore for some — and the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus fits that description. If you do find yourself trapped in a conversation explaining that you’re just wearing headphones and would desperately love for your interrogator to pound sand, tilting the visor down will automatically pause your music and enable a passthrough “conversation mode” so that you won’t miss any of your audiobooks or jams.

How do you control the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus?

Controls for the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus are mainly accessed through a multidirectional nub on the back of the right ear cup, a fan button on the left ear cup, and touchpads on the backs of the ear cups. Said nub can be pressed or moved into one of the four cardinal directions to input your command. Just be aware that your inputs mostly have no tone or feedback. When it does happen, however, the tone is quite loud — so just be mindful of that. The fan button pulls double-duty as a power/pair button and two transparent touch panels on the backs of the ear cups that cycle through active noise cancelation (ANC) and transparency modes.

InputAction
Control stick up / down
Volume up / down
Control stick left / right
Track forward / backward
Control stick hold left / right
Rewind / fast forward
Control stick press
Play / pause / answer call
Controls stick long press
Voice assistant
Fan button long press
Turn on / pair
Contact plate double tap
Toggle ANC mode

Should you use the MyDyson app for the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus?

We recommend using the MyDyson app because a few features are buried in the settings and can’t be performed without it. If you want to change the sound, you’ll need to use the app. Additionally, anything you can do to control your headphones from your smartphone instead of the on-headphone controls will be better, as using physical force against your ear cups can impact how your headphones fit. This can be quite a nuisance.

To control the headphones using the app, you’ll need to make an account with Dyson, which is quite frustrating. Once installed and you’ve created an account, you can pair your headphones quickly with the app. Additionally, the app will display key stats like air quality, external noise level, listening level stats, and histories of each. The sound controls (hidden in the section title) are buried in the ANC menu, which lets you change your ANC modes and equalizers.

How does the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus connect?

The Dyson Zone Absolute Plus connects to sound source devices via Bluetooth or wired with the included airplane adapter cable. Said adapter cable is a bit convoluted, as it uses the dual TRS adapter plus a 3.5mm to USB-C cable to plug into the headphones themselves. It also has a secondary USB-C input to charge the headphones simultaneously, sharing the port.

The USB-C port of the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
The USB-C port can be found among the various ducts and insets.

If you stick with the wireless option (recommended), you can use the Bluetooth 5.0 radio to connect to sources via SBC, AAC, and LHDC — a decent array of codecs. LHDC, in particular, can grant you higher-bitrate listening in the neighborhood of LDAC’s transfer rates.

After installing the MyDyson app, fully charge the headphones. Then, with the headphones off of your head (it plays a super-loud tone), follow the steps below:

  1. Open the MyDyson app and ensure your Bluetooth radio is on.
  2. Hold down the fan button on the left ear cup until the light starts flashing.
  3. Select the Dyson Zone from the list of available devices.

We ran into an issue where we could connect to Bluetooth on a Linux computer, but the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus did not show up as an audio sink, so we couldn’t get audio to or from it. Otherwise, the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus had no issue connecting to Android devices. If you’re a Linux user, it may be something to be aware of.

How long does the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus battery last?

The Dyson Zone Absolute Plus lasted 46 hours and 27 minutes when subjected to our standardized battery test (no fans running). That’s excellent for a set of over-ear headphones, and it needs to be: something this heavy has zero excuse for having poor battery life. This should last you a couple of weeks’ worth of commutes or an entire week’s worth of work days.

No.

How well do the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus cancel noise?

To its credit, the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus blocks out quite a lot of outside noise. Even when the ANC is off, the headphones can still isolate you from the outside world — perhaps owing to the extreme weight and pressure they put on your head.

Loading chart ...

The Dyson Zone Absolute Plus can attenuate about 68% of outside noise when the ANC is turned off and about 84% with noise canceling enabled. This is among the top contenders for noise canceling on the market, but the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus falls slightly short of the leaders of the pack.

ModelIsolation noise reductionANC noise reduction
Model
Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones
Isolation noise reduction
72.2%
ANC noise reduction
87.9%
Model
Apple AirPods Max
Isolation noise reduction
70%
ANC noise reduction
86.9%
Model
Sony WH-1000XM5
Isolation noise reduction
77%
ANC noise reduction
86.1%
Model
Dyson Zone Absolute Plus
Isolation noise reduction
68.9%
ANC noise reduction
83.6%
Model
Focal Bathys
Isolation noise reduction
62.7%
ANC noise reduction
73.5%

This figure is misleading, however. I say that because you’ll never enjoy this kind of noise reduction unless you abandon the air purification function. With it activated, you’ll end up hearing a lot of fan noise and vibrations, negating much of the benefit of having ANC in the first place. Instead of reducing the level of ambient noise, you’re replacing a bunch of outside noise with your own skull rattlings and garbage sound. Though the ANC measurements from our lab are impressive, they paint a far rosier picture than you’ll likely experience — and that’s a problem. While it may be okay on the subway, the same can’t be said of using it at the office or anywhere that doesn’t have a high level of ambient noise.

How loud is the air filter?

I won’t sugarcoat it; the filter is louder than you want. Though it’s louder outside the headphones than inside, it’s still loud enough to impact your audio. Since I don’t like making statements that I can’t back up, I recorded royalty-free music through the headphones with the fans going so you can hear for yourself.

Low fan, half-volume

Low fan, full volume

High fan, half volume

High fan, full volume

How do the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus sound?

How they sound is a difficult question to answer, not because the headphones perform poorly, but because the nature of their dual-purpose design lets them down — so your results will never be as good as isolated measurements. In the lab, the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus measures roughly how you’d want it to from a frequency response standpoint, but the loud air filter causes problems here, too. This can lead to elements of music getting masked and your overall experience to vary wildly. As much as I want to be fair-minded here and consider that these headphones are meant to be a personal air filter first and headphones second, the near-kilobuck price tag means these cans have much to prove.

I regularly chastise products for doing something great and then tossing it out the window with a boneheaded decision, and this is one of those times. Dyson could take the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus, junk the air filter, reduce its mass by using more plastic, and have a potentially good set of headphones on their hands.

Multi-Dimensional Audio Quality Scores (MDAQS)

The chart below is a visual representation of how the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus sound was assessed by the Multi-Dimensional Audio Quality Score algorithm from HEAD acoustics. See here for a detailed explanation of what MDAQS is, how it works, and how it was developed.

A breakdown of the Multi-Dimensional Audio Quality Scores earned by the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus.
The Dyson Zone Absolute Plus sounds okay but falls short in the face of its competitors.

Timbre (MOS-T) represents the headphones’ spectral properties (how faithfully they reproduce the frequency spectrum) and temporal resolution (timing).

Distortion (MOS-D) represents non-linearities and added noise: higher scores mean cleaner reproduction.

Immersiveness (MOS-I) represents perceived source width and positioning: how well virtual sound sources are defined in three-dimensional space.

Using the Multi-Dimensional Audio Quality Scores as a guide, most people will find the audio quality to be perfectly acceptable, but the headphones are let down by the distortion metric. We believe that most listeners will enjoy these headphones’ sound quality, but audiophiles and other high-end quality-chasers won’t likely prize the performance of the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus.

Reviewer’s notes

My time with the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus was mixed, as I really did find the sound quality without the air filter running to be fine. But everything falls apart when you use the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus’s unique selling point (the air filter). I liked the Neutral EQ setting at home, which is no surprise, given that it’s somewhat similar in response to the Beyerdynamic DT 880 and DT 1990 PRO. Listening to tracks like Joji’s “Glimpse of Us” left me missing my home setup, but technically, there wasn’t any glaring deficiency. And that’s the headline here: these headphones are alright. Not several hundred dollars good, but okay.

Aside from a noticeable peak in the highs, the sound was quite… boring. But in audio, “boring” simply means that the sound isn’t weird, offensive, or notable in other ways — and that’s good. Usually, when discussing audio quality, we focus on where the headphones fall short, so if there’s little to talk about, that’s not bad. But with headphones, the fit can have an impact even if the technical performance is good. I found that even though the super-deep padding handled my glasses well, having to readjust the position of the headphones constantly meant that getting the best result was tricky.

Objective measurements

Default response

When examining a headphone’s performance, we first look at the frequency response. While this can be a matter of taste, big spikes in the highs are typically perceived as unpalatable by just about anyone who hears them. This deviation from attested targets like ours often points to a sound with far too much energy in the range where shrill sounds can reside. Some may enjoy this because it can — in some circumstances like relatively quiet tracks like Credence Clearwater Revival’s “Born on the Bayou” — give the illusion of more “detail,” but will also have the annoying tendency to make sibilant sounds like hard “s” and “sh” sounds to be quite loud.

Loading chart ...

For Dyson’s first personal audio product and an ambitious idea like this, the sound tuning isn’t completely off base. After all, a high price tag is hard to swallow, and if sound quality is compromised, people tend to return products like this quickly.

Of course, using the MyDyson app unlocks some other equalizer presets. You may or may not find these of much utility, but we find that most people find something they like and just stick with it. There are two alternate tunings:

Bass boost EQ preset response

Loading chart ...

If you’re a bass lover, the Bass Boost EQ preset gives you exactly what’s promised: a noticeable but not overwhelming bass bump. There are not many changes in the mids or highs, which is good, though they may seem a bit quieter on balance. You may find this one more palatable when commuting than at home, as the bumped low end can help drown out the noise that makes it through to your ears.

Neutral EQ preset response

Loading chart ...

If you’re not a bass-head and prefer less low-end, the Neutral EQ preset resembles our legacy “studio” response curve — outside of that high peak. It’s a nice plus to have in your back pocket if you’re more the type of person who enjoys open-backed “audiophile” headphones, though to a regular consumer: you’ll find the high end much louder than the bass. It takes a bit of getting used to, but I much prefer this kind of response.

Can you use the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus for phone calls?

The Dyson Zone Absolute Plus handles voice calls like most top-flight ANC headphones. You can hear from our recorded samples below. The results align with what you’d expect a several-hundred-dollar set of headphones to be capable of in a voice call between friends, family, or coworkers. If your voice sounds bad, it’s not likely the microphone that’s your bottleneck; it could be your network.

Dyson Zone Absolute Plus microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

How does the microphone sound to you?

9 votes

Dyson Zone Absolute Plus microphone demo (Office conditions):

Dyson Zone Absolute Plus microphone demo (Street conditions):

Dyson Zone Absolute Plus microphone demo (Windy conditions):

Dyson Zone Absolute Plus microphone demo (Reverberant space):

The Dyson Zone Absolute Plus has issues with noise rejection, though it does an excellent job with wind noise. You can hardly hear it, at the expense of very marginally affected sound quality.

Should you buy the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus?

You should not buy this product. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t avoid Dyson headphones in the future.

Of the things headphones should do, these only meet the “sounds okay” requirement under specific circumstances. But the headphones are expensive, uncomfortable, and self-sabotaging. This is one of those situations where I struggle to think of someone who would be made happy by this product.

A photo of the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus on a stand.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
Despite the MegaMan-esque design, this headset is not a very fashionable choice.

Perhaps the most frustrating part of all of this is that the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus isn’t a poor performer when you remove the air filter from the equation, and it’s abundantly clear that the air filter is what’s holding this headset back. Sometimes, we point out how a product is more than the sum of the parts, but the inverse is true in this case.

So many headphones perform better, cost less, and are much more comfortable. If you do need an air purifier to go with you wherever you are, you have bigger problems than can be solved by a product like this.

Dyson Zone Absolute PlusDyson Zone Absolute Plus
Dyson Zone Absolute Plus
MSRP: $799.00
Decent headphones, with an albatross attached to its front.
This product is meant for a very specific kind of consumer: If you're looking for headphones and don't care so much about the air purifier, then you probably want to look elsewhere. On the off-chance you are looking for headphones with a built-in air filter, the implementation here is of fairly limited value.

What should you get instead of the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus?

I will channel my inner Johnny Cash and tell you to get Bose, Sony, or anything but this. While the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus is a rather bold attempt to make competent headphones with a feature that people may want, marrying these devices looks much better on paper than in practice. You can do so for much less outlay if you want good headphones.

The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones lying atop a wood slab.
Austin Kwok / SoundGuys
At 253g, the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones are much lighter and more portable than the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus.

Pick anything from our best ANC headphones list if you want a good set of headphones. Though none of these headphones have an air filter, they’re typically about half the price of the Dyson Zone Absolute Plus, and you could get better filtration by simply wearing an N95 mask intended for the purpose. This has the added benefit of not adding noise to your listening, nor does it strain your battery. Additionally, headphones like the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones ($429 at Amazon) will be a noticeable upgrade for under $400.

Frequently asked questions

No. The ingress protection rating of IP51 means it can only keep out limited condensation and dust.

Yes, you can hear samples above.

No. Unless you use them exclusively on neck day.

Yes.

No. Given its mass, I’m going to go ahead and say it’s probably not ideal for long periods.