Ever since I bought a pair of AKG Headphones on massdrop back in November, I’ve been getting a lot of audio related ads on facebook but this one for smart earphones caught my eye. Yes I may have been one of those people who bought stuff off the TV, once upon a time. I heard about smart headphones/earphones on a podcast a few months ago, the idea being that our ears are not symmetrical and hear the world slight differently from each other. Not to mention depending on your environment and situation, our ears could have aged differently in that one side hears (or doesn’t hear) frequencies better than others. Current earphone use exactly the same driver/hardware to provide sound to both ears, which is according to the hypothesis is unnatural. Also since they’re basically just speakers on the end of a wire, there’s no way to correct/adapt for your particular needs. That’s where the smart part of the headphones/earphones comes in, these smart devices will tailor their audio profile to suit your unique needs. Being a recovering audiophile, my interest was piqued but as with anything the name audiophile in it, the cheapest version I could find at the time was over $400 and not exactly something you would use outside of the house.
Enter EVEN Earphones with their EarPrint technology that promises 20/20 hearing for your ears. A few weeks ago I started noticing their ads on facebook, then one late night, I got bored and clicked their ad to see what this thing was about. Once I got to their website I played with the online EarPrint demo (try it for yourself here https://www.geteven.co/) and while I didn’t notice too much difference in my frequency response, I did notice that the volume between my left & right ears was significantly different. To be fair, the website does say that the demo doesn’t give you the full “EVEN” experience and that you’d need their headphones to fully experience it (of course). I was surprised about how drastic the difference was, but I still wasn’t convinced to spend close to $200 for another pair of over ear headphones after just purchasing the aforementioned AKG headphones a few months ago. Put in to terms of an old school music receiver, my issue is I have to adjust the balance of my stereo. Conceptually I acknowledge these are headphones with a built in equalizer, just in software/DSP hardware instead of having a big thing with sliders. Anyway just before I closed the website, I saw they also had a $100 pair of in ear monitors, for that price, I figured why not give it a try? I’ve spent more money on sushi.
The EVEN Earphones arrived today, and after the first few hours with them on I’m impressed. When you open the even box you’re greeted with a nice zippered case that holds the earphones and three sizes of silicone ear tips that you can swap to fit your ear canal. You’re told to charge your EVENS before you first use them, but me being me, I slapped a battery pack on the ‘phones and initiated the tuning process for the first time. This is where I was greeted by Sarah who guides you thru the tuning process. Which is really simple actually, 8 pieces of music are played in each ear and you have to hit the E button on the thing where the mic would be on your standard phone headset every time you hear it. I was over zealous at first and pressed the button when I thought I heard the music instead of when I actually heard it, which made the tuning go all wonky. The good thing though, is you can just go thru the tuning process again and keep on doing it until you get the earphones just right.
True to their word, EVEN was right as compared to the website demo the true EVEN experience is different, while the website seemed to mainly muck with volume I can actually hear different frequency bands being boosted (or lowered) when I toggle the headphones on and off while playing music. It’s hard to really describe what the sound difference is, most obviously for me, was the singer’s voice in my head-space got pulled from somewhat center left in my head and towards the center. Which I guess means I’m more deaf in my right side? Next was the sound stage, I hate to use that audiophile term, but truly the sound seemed bigger, seemed to fill the space in my head (shaddup) more, and not with some silly echo effect. I played various pieces of music from jazz, classical, heavy metal, pop and audiobooks. I knew how each piece was supposed to sound, and you could really tell the difference, in certain pieces, it felt like I was hearing instruments that I knew should have been there but didn’t hear before appear for the first time. It’s hard to explain. Also it didn’t “sound funny” anymore, I guess my brain has been filling in the missing details but I could always tell when listening with sound isolating in ear monitors (earphones that you shove into your skull), that my left side seemed to hear better than my right (or vice versa I suck at left and right #notheoddaleft). However with the EVENs, things sounded even (for lack of a better word). I spent the evening listening to the entire Hamilton album, parts of Hedgewig and the angry inch, plus a few songs from American idiot. Imaging was great, the EVENs kept up with the music, I didn’t feel like the processing added any lag or over head to listening to music. Instruments are easy to pick out, and for some reason things sounded more three dimensional. The cords are all fabric covered for that anti tangling magic, and they only come in this motif black & white. If you’re not into the black and white, you’re SOL.
Now for some of the bad parts, as I mentioned in passing, these headphones have to have their own power source, so you’re going to be charging your wired headset which I find weird but if you have noise cancelling earbuds/headphones that might be normal. I don’t know how long a full charge will last, because there is no indicator on the device to show you battery charge level, the single LED is informative but useless at the same time; it shows orange/red for charging, solid green when the EVENs are active and doing their thing, green blinking when they’re not and for some reason there’s blue but I don’t know what blue does. I thought it was to show you’re in setup mode, but it goes blue at other times too. The pod that holds circuitry/magic is heavy, so you need to use the included cable clip to attach to your clothes other wise it feels like these babies could fall out of your head. The headphones do come with a call control button (the triangle play button) that stops music, answers calls etc; it also comes with volume rockers, however, they don’t actually communicate with your phone/device to control volume. Instead it just controls the volume going from the pod to your ears, most people suggest setting your phone/player device’s volume to 80% or higher, and let the EVENs control volume. To me that’s a bit humbug, because if you forget to lower your volume the next time you use “regular” earphones, it’s #RIPHeadphoneuser time. Lastly, these things are all about the bass as Meghan Trainor would say, it would be nice to turn down the bass hopefully that’s in version 2 of these earphones.
For those of you that understand this stuff, here’s the specs of the earphones:
- Headphone Jack
Lithium Ion ~12hrs.
- Hz Frequency Range
- Total Harmonic Distortion
- dB Sound Pressure Level
Play, Pause, +/- Volume
- Call Control
Granted all of this is subjective, but for me, these earphones are amazing they aren’t the same as my big over ear AKG studio monitors but if you’ve noticed (or admitted to yourself) that your music isn’t sounding the same as when you were younger, these might be worth a try. I think if you have a public transport commute (e.g. bus) these would be good they don’t cost that much more than a good pair of earbuds and the sound you get from them is phenomenal. Oh and in keeping with the upgraders anonymous promise, these can take the comply t400 foam tips, and yes they are worth the upgrade though I think I have to redo the tuning process again.
If you’re interested and want to learn more about these things hit the link: https://www.geteven.co/products/even-earphones
P.S. Apparently all those times you saw me turn my head as you were talking, was most likely me being all big bad wolf and doing it to better hear you with my dear.