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.
Rock Jaw says that the Sentio headphones are the result of two and a half years of research and development, and feature a hybrid driver configuration as well as the open/closed design. With a turn of the outermost part of each earcup, users can switch between living room-friendly open-back headphones and portable closed-back headphones that aren't going to annoy your fellow commuters.
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Each housing has a 30 mm driver of the kind that can be found in on-ear headphones and a 50 mm driver that's usually reserved for circumaural headphones. This hybrid approach is said to take the best aspects of both designs, resulting in headphones that deliver a tight, punchy bass, "an excellent response in the mid-range" and crisp, clear highs. They're reported to have an overall frequency response of 19 Hz to 21 kHz, 100 dB sensitivity and impedance of 32 ohms.
Stainless steel and aluminum construction allows the Sentios to tip the scales at just 340 g (12 oz), they have synthetic leather cushions, with optional velour pads also available, and they'll come with a 1.2 m (4 ft) and a 4 m (13 ft) audio cable. An optional microphone boom can be plugged into the right cup for taking calls or communicating with virtual mobile assistants.
Rock Jaw has a working prototype of the Sentio headphones in the bag, but has turned to Kickstarter to bring them into production. The campaign runs until March 3 and, as of writing, pledges start at £130 (about US$190). Backers are also being given the chance to choose the color of the stitching and have up to six letters engraved on the housing. If all goes to plan, shipping is estimated to start in September.
You can see the corwdfunding pitch video below.
Update Feb. 25: Rock Jaw Audio cancelled the original campaign a few days ago, but has now relaunched with lower pledge levels, now starting at £95 (about $130). The Kickstarter link below will now take you to the new campaign page.