Open-back headphones, where the outer earcups are perforated to allow air and sound to pass freely in and out, can bring a more natural, spacious feel to music listening. But sound leakage is a big drawback – users can hear much of the world around them and anyone nearby can clearly hear sounds coming from the headphones. Closed-back headphones, where the outer cups are solid, offer more isolation, but staging can feel restricted and the listening experience very much in your head. The Sentio headphones from British audio house Rock Jaw combine both headphone designs in one.
Music Wrap is a new crowdfunding project with the aim of changing the way we listen to music, by eliminating earbuds and headphones in favor of its M25 headphone/speaker hybrid. The device sits around your neck, and creates what the company (perhaps a bit hyperbolically) calls a "personal sound field." Flexible, water-resistant, anti-shock and dust proof, the M25 is designed to free users' hands and ears while delivering a listening experience that will lessen the chance of damaging their eardrums.
Almost two years ago, we featured a prototype device that would turn a sports or motorbike helmet into a speaker. The Headway stuck to the outside of a helmet and used surface transduction to transmit audio waves into the helmet. Now it's all grown up and it's called the Headwave Tag.
One could get ridiculously carried away in the quest for the perfect headphones, but there are no shortage of options for those of thus for whom money is still very much an object. Among these is Soundpeats' A1 Bluetooth over-ear headphones.
The humble audio jack has served music lovers well over the years, but listening to tunes on mobile devices can be something of a disappointment for budding audiophiles. Manufacturers naturally concentrate on upping processor performance, squeezing more pixels per inch into the display and extending battery life, while audio components often appear something of an afterthought. Folks who like to groove on the move to high quality playback can opt for a portable DAC like the DacMagic XS, but the P5 Digital Headphones and Z1 Digital Earphones have their own hi-res DACs and are compatible with both USB and Lightning connections.
Headphones are great for listening to music, but also mean that you can't hear what's going on around you. New technology from Harman, however, could change this. Its Audio Augmented Reality (AAR) allows users to hear specific external sounds, such as your name being called.
With mobile media consumption growing fast, companies are looking for novel ways to enhance entertainment experiences. The latest in augmented reality blurs the line between real life and audio/video hardware. Optinvent's Android-powered Ora-X headphones are designed with an adjustable virtual display that allows users to listen to music, watch videos, or play games on the go.
After a good deal of pre-release positivity from audio community reviewers and industry pundits, V-Moda's flagship Crossfade M-100 headphones were finally made available to buy at the end of 2012. Though many market competitors have since embraced the music-buying public's increasing desire for wireless freedom and added Bluetooth models to their ranges, V-Moda has stubbornly resisted the call to ditch the cable. That all changed in September, however, with the launch of the Crossfade Wireless headphones – the company's Val Kolton calling them the "best sounding and most versatile" Bluetooth headphones he'd ever tried. Gizmag has spent the last few weeks finding out if mobile convenience can be as sonically fulfilling as cumbersome cables.
At CES 2009, Sennheiser launched what was to become an audioholic favorite – the HD 800 open-back headphones. We got the opportunity to go ears-on at IFA a few months later and were duly impressed. This month, the German audio house is releasing an improved model, the HD 800 S, with the promise of bringing listeners "one step closer to the perfect sound."
There's no denying that the best way of listening to music is through a set of headphones. Unfortunately, however, headphones also keep us from hearing things like ringing telephones, knocks on the door and (if the movies are to believed) psychotic killers breaking into our homes. That's why California-based electrical/computer engineer Shari Eskenas created the SoundBrake – it's a li'l device that mutes your 'phones when it detects noises in your environment. We recently tried it out.