Ever wish you could just tune out that wailing baby in row seven on your flight? Silence the barking dog next door? Crank the bass at a concert where the sound mixer seems to get it all wrong? Well, the folks now raising funds for a product called “Here Active Listening” on Kickstarter promise that’s exactly what you’ll be able to do with their wireless earbuds.
Of course, earbuds and headphones that use active noise canceling (video) are nothing new. Such devices play sound waves that are the opposite of those coming toward your ears to block out background noise and let you more fully hear your music, or simply take a break from background chatter.
But the “Here” earbuds take things a bit further. Linked to a smartphone app via Bluetooth, these ‘buds are supposed to let you precisely tune environments to suit your needs. It’s kind of like having a multichannel volume control built directly into your ears. Adjusting certain settings in the app means you can amplify certain sounds (like the vocals at a concert where it’s too hard to hear the singer over the guitars), and reduce others (like that couple in the next apartment who seem to always fight just as “Game of Thrones” is coming on).
On top of all that, the app also offers sound effects that let you play with the sonic world around you. You can add some echo to make your room feel like an abandoned bunker or add that melty wooshy noise to any conversation with the “flange” effect. There are a variety of presets: some add a mix of equalizer settings to enhance music, like the “Hendrix” or “Blue Note” settings, while others instantly reduce common audio annoyances like “Jet Engine” or “Chatter.”
The price for all this potential aural awesomeness isn’t cheap. The early bird price, which is still available, is $179 (about £120, AU$320). After that it rises to $199 (about £130, AU$260) which is still $50 less than the hypothetical retail price. But really, can you put a price tag on turning down the sound of that guy snoring two bunks away from you in your hostel?
The earbuds come with a charging case that holds two charges. Each charge imbues the earbuds with six hours of operating time.
The creators of the Here Active Listening ‘buds are seeking to raise $250,000, of which they’ve nabbed over $80,000 already with almost a month left. The theoretical ship date is in December of this year.