A few months ago I decided I needed some noise cancelling headphones to use at work, home and whilst travelling. Up until this point, I had been using my Apple EarPods without any complaints, I just felt like the noise cancelling would be a nice addition as at the time I was travelling quite a bit and worked in an open plan office. I was in no rush so I decided to do my research and get the best headphones that were within my budget of ±R3500.
The first headphones I looked at were the Parrot Zik over ears. They have the best noise cancelling of ANY over ear headphones I had ever used.
- Excellent active noise cancellation
- Auto pause when removed from your head
- Strong bass
- The price!
- The battery life
Overall I would give them an 8 out of 10.
They were a little over my budget at between R4000 and R6000 including shipping depending on where you got them from. The reason I list them with such a broad range was I really battled to find them. They seemed to be out of stock at almost every place that had them at a lower price. The one shop that showed them online was Dion Wired. When I enquired about them, I was told that the stock levels were low because they didn’t sell due to them being over priced.
One Monday I woke up to an email showing them on sale for R1500, limited to 10 units. I grabbed my laptop as fast as I could but they were already sold out. A little more research brought me to the realisation that they were reaching their end of life. They have since been replaced by the Parrot Zik 2.0.
Disappointed, I went on looking. I looked at Bose, Beats by Dre, Harman Kardon and a few others. I was shocked at the low build quality and durability of the Bose and terrible sound quality of the Beats by Dre. I was leaning towards the Harman Kardons but to fit into my budget I would have to get the on ears and I didn’t think they would be comfortable enough to use all day at work.
As anyone interested in tech knows, there is quite a battle going on between Apple and Samsung. Just as Apple was finalising their purchase of Beats, Samsung released their own line of premium headphones. The included the Samsung Level Over, the Samsung Level On and, the Samsung Level In. I read a few reviews online and decided they were worth looking at.
I went to try them out at the Samsung Store in the V&A Waterfront and was really impressed with them. A little bit of price matching and I got them right within my budget at R3200.
I bought them and my first impressions were really good. First of all the packaging was very premium. They came in a very good quality and Apple-like box. It was minimalist and had magnets to hold it closed. You could easily keep them in the box whilst travelling and for safe keeping.
Inside the box was a hard travel case, a bonus as not all premium headphones include this. Another impressive (and Apple like) thing was that they came charged. Nothing is better than buying a new toy and being able to use it instantly.
I paired them to my iPhone and got started right away with testing them. I was immensely impressed with the sound quality. The bass is not too heavy and I could hear parts of songs I missed with my Apple EarPods. The noise cancelling was rather underwhelming compared to the Parrot Zik, however it was good enough for my use. The battery life was impressive and with moderate to light use I find myself only charging them once or twice a week. They are extremely comfortable and I find I can wear them for a full day at work without really noticing them. The leather on them has a very premium feel and is very soft.
- Sound quality
- Battery life
- Comfortable to wear – very light
- Premium feel
- Clever touch controls for volume, play/pause and skip
- Designed to work with Samsung – more about that below
- Average active noise cancelling
- Not as loud as some competitors
- Can’t fold so not that compact
Designed to work with Samsung: When used with their supplied cable, the inline volume and play/pause controls don’t work with my iPhone or my MacBook. This is a very strange thing for me and I most certainly didn’t expect it. I considered purchasing a new audio cable for them with inline controls that conform to a much more accepted standard but haven’t found it necessary yet. Most of the time I use them wirelessly and thankfully their touch controls do work with all the devices I have tried. They also have an equaliser app that I have never been able to try as it is limited to Samsung Phones.
A big test for me was using them on a flight. The active noise cancelling worked really well here. I paired them with my iPad and watched a few episodes of series. They also worked with the inflight entertainment with their included adapter.
In the box:
- The Headphones
- A travelling case
- Micro USB charging cable
- Standard 3.5mm audio cable (with Samsung only inline controls)
- An Airplane adapter
- A cable pouch
- User manual
In summary I am very impressed with their quality, both build and sound. The Bluetooth functionality works well and they are extremely comfortable. I can highly recommend these headphones. They are not cheap so I would shop around or wait for them to be on sale. They are not professional headphones but are very good for even an avid music lover. They look very premium and I am not embarrassed to be seen wearing them at work. (Like I would be with Beats)
Overall I would rate them 8 out of 10. I would have given them a 9 but those silly inline controls hold them back.