These $99 Earbuds Customize Music For Your Ears

Photo: Courtesy MeQ, Inc.
Everyone's ears are different. Not the way they look (well, that too), but the way they hear sounds. Some people's ears are more sensitive, some are more finely attuned to higher frequencies, and, more often than not, one ear may interpret sounds slightly differently than the other. And yet, we buy earbuds and headphones that are basically one-size-fits-all.

Even is a new breed of earbuds designed to customize the sounds heading into your ears specifically for your ears. When you first pop them in, you press the "Even" button on the controller (which houses volume, pause/play, and said Even button) and run through a setup process that involves listening to eight musical tones in each ear. This establishes your "EarPrint" — how you uniquely hear out of each ear. From there you can tap the Even button to switch on its filtering magic, or tap it off to listen to music "normally."

When I switch on the "Even" button on these earbuds, immediately, I can notice a difference. Suddenly I can hear way more music in my left ear than I normally do at a given volume. For both ears, guitar strums and drum hits are richer. In songs I've listened to a hundred times, I could hear new details I'd never heard before in the background. But it's the left ear thing that really shocked me — I had no idea I wasn't experiencing a full music experience in that ear.

The earbuds remind me of the Boomcloud Boomstick, which we checked out earlier this year. The Boomstick amps up the overall audio quality of what you're listening to, boosting frequencies human ears normally don't hear so well (and ones streaming audio services tend to compress into a smaller dynamic range). Even takes that same idea but customizes it for each ear. Like the Boomstick, there's no app — you can just plug it into your phone or computer, listen to whatever you want, and go. Even's earbuds cost $99, and are available today.

Interestingly, another company, Mimi Hearing Technologies, has been working on the same idea, but with the opposite approach. With the free Mimi Music app, you can establish your EarPrint for each ear and listen to your newly personalized audio experience with whatever earbuds or headphones you want. However, with this app, you're limited to listening to music on Spotify, Soundcloud, or iTunes. With Even, you can listen to whatever you want — Spotify, a Skype conference call, or Netflix, for example.

Besides making audio more enjoyable — whether you spring for Even earbuds or just try out the Mimi Music app — these should have health benefits for you, too. Because they boost frequencies you normally can't hear that well, you should be able to listen to music at a lower volume than you normally would, reducing earphone-related hearing damage.

If you're in the market for a good, not-too-expensive pair of earbuds, consider giving Even a shot. And if you don't believe the hype, try out a demo yourself at its website.
Photo: Courtesy MeQ, Inc.
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