Most headphones are simple plug-and-play accessories: You connect them to your music player, and you press play. End of story.
Miami Beach, Florida-based Muzik has other ideas.
Its first pair of “smart” headphones are attractive, work wirelessly, and even let you share what you’re listening to on Facebook or Twitter, thanks to four programmable smart buttons right on the ear cup. You can even control the volume and playback using swiping gestures on that same ear cup.
Here’s how all those features come together:
I love how the Muzik headphones look. Available in black or white, the Muzik on-ear headphones have a sleek metal design that’s highlighted by leather ear cups and comfortable padded headband. And they look good both off and on your head: They don’t leave a ton of space around your head like some headphones do.
My favourite part, at least from a design perspective, is how the metal seems to warp and wrap around each ear cup. It’s pretty slick.
Obviously design doesn’t mean much if you can’t wear these headphones comfortably, but these headphones are very comfy and secure: They don’t wiggle around on your head, and since they’re wireless, you have free range of motion to turn your head — or headbang, should you so desire.
They’re also pretty portable. They can’t lay flat like some headphones, but the ear cups can be folded inwards and thrown in a bag or purse, or kept in a small attractive Muzik-branded case.
And though it’s not technically part of the headphones, Muzik’s standalone app “Muzik Connect” is crucial for customising which “smart” features you want (more on that later), but it’s also a one-stop shop for all your music from iTunes or Rdio, and it even lets you create playlists right in the app and see what’s “trending” across Muzik wearers. Personally, I just think the app’s design is really gorgeous since it’s so simple.
For a pair of wireless headphones, Muzik seems to have accomplished quite a bit — though the audio isn’t quite as good as comparable wired headphones.
Specifically, the highs are a little fuzzy at times, and the bass isn’t nearly as deep or clear as I’d like. That said, the headphones achieve pretty good max volume, and they will last for several hours on a single charge. I was able to commute with these headphones for a solid week, about 8 hours of use, without needing to recharge.
Of course, most people will probably consider the Muzik headphones for their “smart” features. After all, Muzik claims it produces the world’s first and only “smart” headphones.
So how smart are these headphones?
They do deliver as promised, but there’s a considerable learning curve, and it’s not exactly intuitive.
Here’s how all the “smart” features break down:
- You can play or pause your music by pressing the same button you hold to power on the device, which is right atop the right ear cup.
- You can control the volume of your music by swiping up or down.
- You can control the playback of any track by swiping left or right.
- The right ear cup also contains four programmable hot keys, which you can use to instantly share your music with friends over Facebook or Twitter, or save to a playlist via Muzik’s own app, called “Muzik Connect.”
- You can also use the hot keys to engage voice control options like Siri.
As soon as I obtained the Muzik headphones, I immediately wanted to try these smart features. I hooked up my Facebook and Twitter accounts, and I immediately began trying to control all of my music without needing to touch my phone, a.k.a. my music player.
It wasn’t as easy as I would have liked.
Initially, swiping up or down resulted in a volume shift only about 50% of the time. Through trial and error, I improved my ratio of hits to misses simply by making sure my finger touched the end of the ear cup with each swipe. That made it work about 75-80% of the time, but it still wasn’t perfect.
These controls aren’t very intuitive either. I like the idea of programmable hot keys, but after my initial setup, I couldn’t remember which hot keys did what.
After spending a great deal of time with these headphones, I also wished the “smart” features were split across the ear cups — the right ear cup would handle volume, while the left one would handle the hot keys. I can’t tell you how many times I tried to boost the volume and accidentally shared my song to Facebook instead. There were several instances where I shared the same track to Facebook over and over again because of this.
In all, I found about half of these “smart” features to be unique, but not ultimately something I’d use. I love having playback and volume controls right on the ear cup, but the accuracy of the gestures was certainly suspect. And the rest of the controls, particularly sharing to social networks or saving songs to a playlist on a music app I don’t really use, felt unnecessary to the point of unwanted.
Still, having these options is nice. I’d certainly prefer to have these options and not use them as opposed to not having them there at all. And the “smart” controls don’t really get in the way of the listening experience: You could simply buy and use Muzik headphones as a pair of wireless headphones and you’d be perfectly happy.
As a whole, I recommend the Muzik headphones. Though they cost $US300, they offer comparable sound quality to other headphones at this price point, and they offer much more in the way of functionality. And best of all, they’re wireless: You will not want to go back to wired headphones after owning these. Whether or not you use all its features is up to you, but Muzik proves here that headphones can be much smarter than what we’re accustomed to, and I’m very excited to see what this company does next in the way of smart, wireless audio.