The Singing Parrot
By Kenny Yeo
The name Philippe Starck needs no introduction. He is one of the world's renowned designers, having fashioned all manners of products from watches to chairs. Parrot, on the other hand, may be unfamiliar. It is a French company specializing in wireless devices for mobile phones - mainly handsfree car kits and headsets. The Zikmu is the company's very first speaker and a wireless one at that, able to stream music via Bluetooth and WiFi.
A Pretty Thing
Having a world-class designer at the helm of things, it is little wonder that the Parrot Zikmu is an absolute stunner. The twin speakers are roughly 75cm tall and unlike traditional speakers, adopt an unique and stylish conical design that tapers towards the top. Additionally, they are wonderfully lacquered in black gloss and as such, look extremely classy. There's no mistaking the Starck DNA all over the Zikmu.
There are a few ways to get the Parrot Zikmu singing. You can either dock your iPhone or iPod on it, or pair it via Bluetooth with your computer, or alternatively, get it connected through WiFi. To get it playing directly from your Apple device, put it in the docking bay and press play. It doesn't get any easier that that.
We streamed music directly from our iPhone and it worked without a hitch, though there were instances when the music would be cut abruptly. Thankfully, this wasn't a frequent occurrence. We also tried streaming music from a MacBook Pro via Bluetooth and again it was a breeze to setup. For old school audiophiles, you'd be glad to know that the Zikmu can also be hooked up with RCA connectors.
Although the Parrot Zikmu was easy to setup, we wished that it came with a better remote control. The remote provided only had the basic functions of play, pause, skip tracks, volume control and source. This meant that whenever we wanted to setup a connection via Bluetooth or WiFi, we had to walk over to the speakers and hit the right buttons. Setting up connections, though easy, did require some manual work.
In terms of audio performance, the sound of the Parrot Zikmu is unmistakably high-end. Equipped with speakers that project sound 360 degrees around them, our first impression was that it sounded great. This audio effect was achieved with NXT technology, which, according to Parrot, is a flat membrane that creates minuscule vibrations, resulting in a great aural experience.
As we spent more time with the Zikmu, we found that the sound was bright and nicely textured. The highs, mids and bass were all well controlled and it sounded best on rock and instrumental tracks.
The Parrot Zikmu is an unique product that successfully marries the three aspects of style, wireless connectivity and first-class aural performance. At S$2688, it isn't exactly what most consumers would consider affordable. To be fair, our only quibble is with the simple remote control, and discounting that minor flaw, the Parrot Zikmu is definitely a great addition to any fashionable audiophile's living room, if you can afford it.