When new headphones hit the market, many tout hefty hardware specs and/or a varied type of fit for enhanced comfort. But the latest sidesteps this standard approach with a peculiar dual-form that also caters to anyone who can appreciate customized audio. Not only do the Nura headphones combine in- and over-ear styles together as one, its soundwave technology is designed to automatically measure hearing and adapt the sound to match the listener.
Part of the reason why music tends to be subjective is that, fundamentally, it's all just harmonic frequencies entering the ear canal and vibrating the tympanic membrane. While the overall structure of ears may be the same from person to person, variations in our anatomy result in subtle differences of perception.
When sound waves hit the eardrum, causing the bones of the middle ear to send signals to the cochlea, the vibrations apparently create faint, low-intensity sounds that are sent back out through the ear canal. The Nura headphones are designed to use an adaptation of OAE (otoacoustic emission) testing to detect this information. Microphones measure signals entering and returning from the ear, and the technology compiles it all to determine how well sound was actually heard.
The process to create each unique profile takes about 30 seconds and doesn't require any user interaction. The reported result is that listeners can enjoy music optimized to match personal sensitivities to different frequencies of sound, no matter the app. All notes can be heard perfectly, and the volume is also balanced to help to protect ears from damage. And once the headphones have been put on, Nura automatically recognizes users and loads the appropriate profile.
Although the Nura headphones share some similarity to the self-calibrating Ossic-X, it's more focused on music than immersive 3D audio for gamers. Nura's design involves in-ear buds housed within each over-ear cup. The ear buds feature drivers that handle the mids and highs, while the cups' drivers operate the bass. This acoustic separation is intended to provide improved clarity and detail over the sonic experience, with the added benefit of doubling the passive noise isolation.
The team behind the Nura headphones is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, having raised 104 percent of the US$100,000 goal in less than a day, with another 59 days left to go. Pledges for the Nura headphones start at $199, saving $200 off the estimated retail price.
Integrated, fully-functioning prototypes have been developed and the industrial design has been completed. So if tooling, test production, certification, and mass production go according to schedule, backers can expect shipments to start as soon as April, 2017.
Check out the video below for initial impressions of the Nura heaphones.