Over the past two years, the headset of many technical startups in audio has been the keynote. One of them recently failed miserably, as GT editors wrote about
. I already wrote about Nura and Ossic X, who tried to excite the portable audio market with interesting developments. New technical solutions of these projects did not affect the very principle of using gadgets, which cannot be said about the device to which this publication is devoted.
The creators of Here One from Doppler Labs have set an ambitious task to change the idea of using headphones, their capabilities, and to some extent even the scope of their use. The project impresses with the fact that the developers have implemented a fairly wide range of possibilities, in particular the use of headphones
not only for listening to music, but also as a kind of filter for the surrounding sound environment. Interestingly, the previous project of the company was designer dubs earplugs. Their new product is largely functionally similar to the previous one.
A successful kickstarter campaign shows that a startup has interested many. This suggests that the capabilities of the device may be demanded massively in the near future. I do not presume to judge how successful this development will be in the market, but the principles underlying it certainly deserve attention. Under the cat a detailed description of the concept of work and the use of the gadget, its capabilities and some significant technical characteristics.
Listen to the world through headphones
The main slogan of the project, which largely determines the concept of application, was the draft slogan "Transform The Way You Hear The World", which can be translated as "Change ways to hear the world." Thus, Doppler Labs engineers offer a device that is designed not only for playing music and communicating on the phone, but also expanding the capabilities of our hearing. Technically, the principle resembles classical noise reduction systems, but unlike the latter, the gadget is able to selectively filter external sounds. In fact, the creators of the device offer to listen to the world through it.
Here One developers have created wireless headphones
that can cut off an unwanted part of the frequency spectrum, for example, the noise of an airplane or a subway. At the same time, you can retain the ability to hear sounds that are useful to you at the moment: speech, car horn or a howler of civil defense in the case of atomic bombing. To use these functions, it is not necessary to listen to music, just connect the device to a smartphone with an installed application and filter out annoying sounds. The intra channel design has a sufficient degree of sound insulation and acts as an additional passive filter. The sensitivity range of selective noise reduction is in the range from -22 to 6 dB.
At the technical level, the functionality is implemented as a hardware module (microphones on the outside of the device) and a software analyzer. Microphones capture the ambient sounds that are processed by the software module. Management is carried out through a mobile application (for iOS and Android), where a ready-made preset or a self-configured profile allow you to select the necessary filtering parameters.
In headphones for a concert
No matter how absurd the appearance of a man in headphones at a live concert looks like, in the case of a subject it may have a definite sense. The fact is that among the pre-installed filters, it is possible to create parameters of the frequency response and sound processing that will suit a particular listener (for example, high, low, use flanger or reverb).
It is known that we all hear in different ways, and, accordingly, to achieve optimal sound for any ears in a live performance with dynamic instruments is quite difficult. In such a situation, such an element of augmented reality can really be useful. Probably the gadget will be able to help in a situation with a drunk and deaf sound engineer. For advanced users, a system of self-equalization is implemented with saving settings in the profile.
To demonstrate the capabilities of this function, the developers recorded a special track in which you can hear how the sound will be processed with one or another of the basic settings:
One of the weighty arguments in favor of a solution from Doppler Labs is the elimination of security problems. It is well known that headphones caused not one and not two accidents involving pedestrians listening to music on the roadway.
Developers have identified the need for a mode that will be useful in this situation. Thus, while on the road, in one click you can turn on the mode in which the approaching car will be clearly heard against the background of music or a telephone conversation.
In addition to innovation with a sound analysis system, the headphones are equipped with the ability to quickly charge through a powerbank embedded in the case. The system is similar to the charging case for the Air Pods, but somewhat larger in size.
Charging is performed while the headphones are in the case, for which the device and the openings for them are provided with contact groups. The case is also equipped with a charge indicator, which allows you to understand how much it is charged.
Design features and acoustic characteristics
As readers have probably already understood from the photo, the headphones are of the intra channel type. The kit includes a whole collection of ear cushions for different diameters of the external auditory canal. Selected acoustic design allows you to get not a bad margin of sound pressure for fans of "blood from the ears" and the humming-mumbling low-frequency hum. Without the use of presets for the equalizer, the headphones have a fairly even frequency response (+ -2 dB).
To understand what Doppler Labs offers, it will be useful to study the acoustic and other characteristics of the device:
- Driver size: 8 mm;
- Frequency range: 20–20,000 Hz;
- THD: 0.1%;
- Microphone: MEMS omnidirectional;
- Output: peak SPL TBA (starting at 100 dB);
- Bluetooth: Low Energy 4.0;
- Lithium-ion battery;
- Weight: 9.5 - 10 g;
- Compatibility: any iOS or Android device that supports BLE (Android 4.4 and above).
Demanding supporters, inaudible to the human ear, frequencies and ultra-low levels of distortion, may have already splashed the screen in a bout of aggressive hypersalivation. But for most average music lovers the sound is quite acceptable. The latter is confirmed by numerous independent video reviews, where he is even praised.
Load of tangible deficiencies
With a close appraisal of the device, it is possible to reveal quite significant shortcomings. The main one is work time. Headphones
are able to continuously work without recharging for about 4 -6 hours, according to the developers. However, the active use of the most "magical" smart features of the device reduces its operation time to 3 - 3.5 hours. Probably, a small battery capacity affects, the volume level and the use of specific modes also matter. Powerbank, in part, solves this problem.
The ergonomics of the inter-channel acoustic design with silicone ear cushions is not for everyone. This will probably push the developers to create a full-size model. Another relative disadvantage of ergonomics is a relatively high mass - 10 grams. According to the authors of independent reviews, this is rather inconvenient for prolonged use, especially given the fact that the earpiece is held solely by the external auditory canal. For example, the notorious Air Pods weigh 4 grams, and some other wireless models are less than 3.
For me personally, a tangible disadvantage is the use of the classic dynamic driver. In my not authoritative opinion, reinforcing radiators are ideal for intra-channel solutions. Although this is only a subjective assessment.
Price. It should be noted that not everyone is ready to give $ 300 for headphones, regardless of the characteristics and innovations that they receive with the device.
Regarding any startup, I always keep a low profile, and I don’t rush to conclusions about the success of devices on the market. I would be grateful if readers will share their predictions about these headphones and write in the comments on how relevant this gadget is for them. It is not excluded that Here One will appear in our catalog, and it will be useful for us, as an interested trade organization, to know the opinion of the target audience of the product.