Published on December 8th, 2022 | by Andrew Bistak

Sound science: Dyson’s high fidelity, active noise-cancelling headphones with air purification set for sale from January

Today, Dyson announces the full specification of the Dyson Zone™ noise-cancelling headphones with air purification, which go on-sale from January in China and March in the US, UK, Hong Kong SAR and Singapore. Announced earlier this year, the Dyson Zone™ noise-cancelling headphones provide a pure, immersive listening experience and on-the-go air purification when you need it. Following five years of research and development, the headphones deliver up to 50 hours of ultra-low distortion1, advanced noise cancellation and faithful, full-spectrum audio reproduction. Filters remove pollutants as small as 0.1 microns2.

The urban pollution problem

More than half of the global population lives in cities. This is expected to reach 7 in 10 by 20503. As urban populations grow, so does associated infrastructure – transport, construction, traffic – all of which impact the environment in which we live, polluting the air and generating noise.

  • An estimated 90 per cent of New York City4 mass transit users are exposed to levels exceeding the recommended decibel limit4. In the EU, noise pollution affects 1 in 5 citizens5.
  • Air pollution is also a global problem. 99% of the world’s population live in areas that exceed the World Health Organisation (WHO) safe levels for pollution6.
  • In many geographies, local man-made pollution isn’t the biggest threat – in Europe, West Asia and Africa, the primary source of air pollution according to the United Nations Environment Programme is windborne dust7.

The Dyson Zone™ headphones solution

The Dyson Zone™ noise-cancelling headphones with air purification are engineered to tackle the dual challenges of city noise and air pollution. Powered by advanced lithium-ion batteries and USB-C charging, the headphones offer 50 hours of audio-only run-time1, or 4 hours of combined purification and audio run-time, charging to 100% in 3 hours.

The Dyson Zone™ noise-cancelling headphones with air purification are borne of Dyson’s 30 years of expertise in airflow, filtration and motors technologies and deep understanding of indoor and outdoor air quality. The compressors in each earcup draw air through the dual-layer filters and project two streams of purified air to the wearer’s nose and mouth, channeled through the non-contact detachable visor. Filters remove pollutants as small as 0.1 microns2 , whilst K-Carbon, potassium-enriched carbon filters target prevalent acidic gases most associated with city pollution, including NO2 and SO2.

The product has also been engineered to deliver high fidelity, immersive audio with ultra-low distortion and a broad frequency range for clarity across bass, mids and highs. The Dyson Zone™ noise-cancelling headphones with air purification incorporates an additional microphone for telephony, allowing phone calls, voice recording and voice control. The telephony microphone combines with the feed forward ANC microphone to provide dual microphone beamforming. Beamforming creates greater clarity of voice transmission by combining the signals from each microphone in a way that allows the system to reject noise from behind and to the sides of the wearer.

Dyson approach to audio engineering

The Dyson Zone™ noise-cancelling headphones with air purification deliver an exceptional immersive listening experience. Many audio developers rely on a golden listener; this has become common practice across the audio industry, where a trained individual determines what ‘good’ sounds like. Dyson engineers opted to take a more scientific approach, led by audio research and validating the resulting specification targets with extensive user trialling.

  • Engineered for ultra-low distortion: The speaker driver and electronics, mechanical system, materials, and acoustics have been carefully designed to minimise distortion. The driver output is further equalised by intelligent signal processing 48,000 times a second which combines with the noise cancellation to neutralise harmonic distortion to inaudible levels across the full frequency range (0.08% @ 94 dB @1 kHz).
  • Advanced noise cancelling: 11 microphones feature within the product. The Dyson Zone™ headphones ANC system uses eight microphones which monitor surrounding noise 384,000 times a second. The Dyson Zone™ headphones offers up to 38 dB of noise cancellation from 20 Hz to 20 kHz.
  • Faithful, full-spectrum audio: The Dyson Zone™ headphones goes beyond the audible to reproduce frequencies from 6 Hz – 21 kHz, ensuring every note or word is heard. It is more difficult for audio reproduction to be accurate at the extremes of the speaker’s frequency range, so by going beyond human hearing, the Dyson Zone™ headphones achieves greater clarity across the audible portion of the spectrum. Such a broad frequency range is down to the electroacoustic engineering system engineering and base components: 40mm, 16 ohm, neodymium speaker drivers sit at the heart of the audio system.
  • Scientifically tuned to hear more detail: Driven by scientific metrics and validated by broad user trialling, Dyson engineers identified the specification that gives the most clarity and detail across the full audio spectrum. Dyson has created a unique EQ setting that optimises the frequency curve for clear, pure audio across the full audible frequency range, to deliver a high-fidelity audio experience.
  • Immersive listening in complete comfort: No two heads are the same and this variation impacts many elements of comfort as well as audio performance, including the clamp force of the headband, the geometry and materials of the detachable visor, the adjustability of the product and much more. The ear cushions are purposefully flatter than conventional ear cushions for both passive attenuation and comfort, and the cushions are angled to align with the ear for optimal comfort.

High-level filtration in real-world conditions

Across the world, an average of 190 million people travel on the subway – exposing passengers to a mixture of pollutants such as particulate matter (PM2.5 & PM10), which in some cities it can reach higher levels than at street level.

Tackling city air pollution is a specific job, be that when you commute to work, travel abroad or traverse the city in which you live. The filtration system and air delivery mechanism in the Dyson Zone™ noise-cancelling headphones with air purification are engineered specifically to tackle such tasks. Precision-engineered compressors, spinning at up to 9,750 rpm, draw air through the dual-layer filters. The negatively charged electrostatic filter media captures ultrafine particles such as allergens, and particles from sources such as brake dust, industry combustion and construction, to an efficiency of 99% for particles as small as 0.1 microns. These particles are of most concern to health bodies, and investment in researching their long-term impact on health continues. A second layer, K-Carbon, is a potassium-enriched carbon layer which specifically captures city gas pollutants like NO2, SO2 and O3, as well as nasty city odours, like construction fumes, sewage or stale air in metro systems, for example. Filters will last up to 12 months, depending on geographical location.

Sensing, connectivity & app development

NO2 is one of the most prevalent gaseous pollutants in cities, a byproduct of combustion, with sources including traffic and construction. Alongside other acidic gases like SO2, the potassium-enriched carbon filters within the Dyson Zone™ noise-cancelling headphones with air purification target these acidic gases specifically to meet the challenges of city air. An on-board sensor monitors the air for NO2 levels, tracking these live via the MyDyson™ app, alongside real-time environmental noise levels. Like Dyson in-home purifiers, The Dyson Zone™ noise-cancelling headphones with air purification provides actionable, understandable information about the user’s environment at their fingertips to inform healthier habits. An on-board accelerometer monitors the user’s activity, adjusting the purified airflow appropriately when in auto mode with the visor attached. Head detection enters the product into standby mode when not being worn, and dipping the detachable visor activates conversation mode, stopping purification and pausing music, intelligently optimizing battery life.

The MyDyson™ app can also be used to control the Dyson Zone™ noise-cancelling headphones with air purification, adjust airflow speed and noise-cancellation mode as well as adapt the audio equalization to preference, choosing from three modes: Dyson EQ (enhanced), Bass Boost (bassy) and Neutral (flatter response curve). In the MyDyson™ app you can opt-in to loudness limit in line with aural health guidance.

The Dyson Zone™ noise-cancelling headphones with air purification have been engineered by teams across the UK, Singapore, Malaysia and China, with a particular focus on software on our South-East Asia campuses. The app development and integration was a critical project to ensure a smooth connection journey and provide intelligent, meaningful air and noise pollution tracking features.

As with all Dyson machines, the Dyson Zone™ noise-cancelling headphones with air purification have been tested to the extremes – in temperature-controlled chambers, drop-testing, material and fabric wear testing, button robustness and much more. Our expert test engineers in the Dyson Malaysia Development Centre are integral to this, as is the geography – putting it through its paces in warmer climates and higher humidity in addition to UK-based testing. User trials have been conducted in the US, UK, China and Singapore.

The Dyson Zone™ noise-cancelling headphones will launch in 2023 in selected markets. Timings will vary by geography and we will confirm more details closer to availability. Stay up to date on the latest news regarding the Dyson Zone™ noise-cancelling headphones with air purification, by signing up to email updates at https://www.dyson.com.au/products/wearables/dyson-zone-air-purifying-headphones/announcement?q=zone.

About the Author

When he's not trying to save the world, Andrew enjoys travel (although loathes turbulence), going to the movies, reading and being a dad to his two dogs (and now twins) with his wife.

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