3D Sound Labs’ Neoh headphones: “closest thing to real life sound I’ve ever heard”

[From Technology Tell, where the story includes three different images]

3D Sound Labs' Neoh headphones

Hands on @ CES 2015: 3D Sound Labs Neoh

by Aaron Kraus on January 5, 2015

3D sound is a pretty catchy buzzword, but how do you actually recreate the three dimensionality of sound like we hear in every day life? 3D Sound Labs’ newly-announced Neoh headphones provide the closest thing to real life sound I’ve ever heard by using a very simple bit of tech: the accelerometer.

Turn your head

When we listen to someone in real life, our brains automatically map the sound based on the delay for sound to reach each of our ears. Put simply, even with your eyes closed you can tell people are to the right of you when they’re speaking because their voice hits your right ear sooner than your left ear. Even the most complex home theater systems can’t recreate this effect because the speakers are stationary. When you’re sitting in just the right spot you feel like you’re immersed in the sound, but turn your head slightly and the illusion is broken.

To overcome this, 3D Sound Labs adds a simple sensor to their Neoh headphones to track your head movements. The customized app running on your iPhone/iPad processes this data and adjusts the sound so it really feels like you’re immersed in the audio environment. When a speaker is onscreen, turning your head to the left causes more sound to play in your right ear, so your brain literally feels like  you’re part of the action. The sensor is incredibly sensitive, so even slight head motions side to side or up and down produce differences in audio, which enhances the feeling of being inside the listening environment.

At the Show

The 3D Sound Labs team was on the show floor at CES Unveiled, and I got a chance to try on a pair of the Neoh headphones and listen to a sample movie. The cans themselves are a comfortable over-ear style, but it’s the sound processing that’s truly amazing. When you’re sitting in front of a TV and turn your head, it really breaks the illusion of being in the scene, but with the Neoh headphones it feels like you’re still part of the action. Head movements correspond to sound changes that your brain has evolved to interpret, which makes your movies feel more like a live action theater performance.

The headphones require a wired connection for sound and a Bluetooth connection for the sensor data, but they’re still lightweight and comfortable to wear. The corresponding app is currently required for watching video/movie content, but the development team is looking to expand support for other media so you could stream video to your Apple TV but still listen to the audio with the Neoh headset. Pricing is not finalized but is anticipated in the sub-$299 range, and the Neoh will be available for preorder later this month on Kickstarter with a ship date in spring 2015.

Check out full details at the 3D Sound Labs website.

For more CES announcements and show floor coverage, visit our CES 2015 news roundup.


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