If you're a mobile music lover who also happens to be the active or adventurous type, you've probably been cursed with an earbud or two falling out, interrupting your rhythm or breaking your concentration while you try and shove it back in place. Even if your buds stay put, danger can lurk on every street corner and at every curb thanks to the immersive passive isolation resulting from a snug fit. These are issues that users of the ITreq Micro Audio Player shouldn't be troubled with. Whether you're at the gym, riding a bike, skateboarding, or just aggressively gardening, the device should stay in place behind one ear, leaving your other one on alert for potential hazards.
Vox One Labs says that the ITreq delivers dual channel stereo audio into one ear via the 8-mm earbud driver. The device is worn like, and looks quite similar to, a hearing aid. The high-impact ABS housing containing the circuitry sits behind an ear, a medical- grade silicone rubber hook clips over the top and the bud is placed within the concha, forming a seal at the canal.
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Having audio played into one ear could be advantageous while jogging through busy city streets or heavy traffic, or if you're the kind of person who likes to enjoy your own musical backdrop while chatting with friends. Unlike Bluetooth, there's no need to interrupt the tunes when a call is received on your smartphone, you just use your free ear. Those wanting full stereo, however, can plug a short bud-ended cable into the bottom of the unit.
The 28 x 28 x 11 mm (1.1 x 1.1 x 0.4 in), 16 g (0.5 oz) ITreq is IP53-certified, which means it should be able to take at least a few splashes, if not the odd dunking. It doesn't have any built-in storage. Instead, users slot in a microSD card containing their favorite workout playlists. The player supports MP3, WMA, FLAC and Ogg file formats and quickly pressing buttons on top will skip tracks forward or back. Holding those same buttons down alters volume levels.
It does look like the songs are played one after the other, rather than at random, so you'll likely have to put some thought into preparing your playlists before heading out (you wouldn't want an up tempo 80s rock anthem to be followed by a tear-jerker ballad, or have to skip through hundreds of tracks to get to the ones you want). A button on the side powers on the player, and its 3.3-volt Li-Pol battery is reported good for eight hours between charges.
After three years in design and development, Vox One Labs is now ready to take its player into production. To that end, the company has launched on Kickstarter. An early bird special of just US$59 will get backers an ITreq in white, black or red. Each player is supplied with two 4 GB media cards to get you started, a USB charging cable and a carry case. When the first 500 have gone, the pledge level will rise to $79, which is $20 cheaper than the suggested retail price.
The campaign closes on June 8. More information is available in the pitch video below.