Parrot is known for pushing the boundaries of design and function. It's had a long history of producing innovative products such as digital picture frames and iPhone-controlled helicopters.
It's no surprise, then, that this wireless speaker dock is on the quirky side. That's partly down to the designer, none other than Philippe Starck, who has come up with the Parrot Zikmu Solo's peculiar trombone-shaped form.
Parrot Zikmu Solo review: Connectivity
It lets you connect in a variety of ways: conventional docking with an Apple device (though not a Lightning connector, so iPhone 5 users will need to get an adaptor); Bluetooth; via optical or 3.5mm input; and wired or wirelessly via a networked storage device.
Pairing via Bluetooth is a simple process – press the button behind the magnetic front grille, choose the Solo on your device and you're in business. Owners of compatible Android devices can even do it by placing their handset on top of the unit – it does the rest using NFC (Near Field Communication) tech.
If you want to connect the Solo to your network, you can use the control app to enter its details and get it online. Once in, you'll see a list of compatible servers and their contents – but it isn't the nicest navigation experience we've ever had.
More after the break
Parrot Zikmu Solo review: Design
The speaker configuration is clever: it uses one flat round NXT speaker on the front, and two long ones on each side. At the bottom, firing straight down, is a conventional mid/bass driver. You can tell the Solo where it is in the room, and how big that room is, via the app – and it then configures these speakers to tailor its sound to the surroundings.
Parrot Zikmu Solo review: Sound quality
So far so innovative, then. But how does it sound? Well, we've heard better. Playing about with the app's EQ and room settings, we definitely get an impression of stereo – no small feat considering this unit’s dimensions.
Special mention should go to the amount of options available in that app. Just about every aspect of the sound is customisable, and it's well worth fiddling – we found that a smaller room setting sounded better than the large-room preset in our largest test room. But while the performance is undeniably full-sounding, there's nothing particularly refined about it.
We can't really gripe too much about the punchy, up-front and lively sound – it'll certainly make your ears perk up – but we don't like the air of confusion that comes with it. Instruments blur into each other, dynamics are inconsistent and frankly, we never get the impression that we're listening to a £700 dock.
Parrot Zikmu Solo review: Verdict
Of course, sound might not matter to you as much as the looks. But if you have this kind of money to spend, and you want proper hi-fi sound, then you should really take a look at rivals such as the excellent B&W A7 speaker. As it is, this Solo hits just a few too many bum notes.