Challenge: Find these headphones!

#1

Thank you all for helping to outline the must haves of Eve headphones!

I have compiled a list of all the must haves based on the discussion in this topic and I think it would be great to see if we can find a product that would match at least 80% of them! If not it means we found a gap in the market and are near to “dream specs” of our headset!

So here are the must have’s based on our discussion:

Must Haves:

  • Bluetooth 5.0

  • USB-C for charging

  • Replacable earpads

  • Wow Audio Quality

  • Battery life 15h+ (keep light in mind)

  • Clear noise cancelling mics for calls

  • APTx HD, LDAC and other codecs

  • 3,5 mm cable for music

  • Charge and play music

  • Play music when out of battery through AUX

  • ANC

  • Foldable design for compact storage

  • Easy audio switching between devices easy pairing experience

  • Comfortable for long time period

Here are 2 challenges for you!

Challenge #1

Find a pair of over ear headphones that would match ALL of the criteria above at ANY price point:

Challenge #2 (more difficult)

Find a pair of over ear headphones that would match ALL of the criteria above at <$200 price point:

If you find something close tell what’s missing!

If you can’t find the product that matches 80% of must haves means we have an opportunity:)

6 Likes

[Step 2] Let's talk about features!
#2

I couldn’t find headphones that would hit all of the must haves.
I did find 2 headphones that match challenge #1 to some extend but not the ones matching challenge #2

My feelings legend:

:scream: unbelieable! Why?! It really affects use!
:expressionless: would be great to have but still can live with it personally

Headphones that match #1 partially

B&W px90 - 399USD/399EUR

They have:

  • Good battery life
  • USB-C for charging
  • Wow Audio Quality (best sounding Bluetooth set I have ever tried! )
  • Battery life 15h+
  • APTx HD, SBC and AAC
  • Charge and play music
  • Good ANC
  • 3,5 mm cable for music

They don’t have:

  • Replacable earpads
  • Clear noise cancelling mics for calls :scream:
  • Play music when out of battery through AUX :scream:
  • Foldable design for compact storage
  • Easy audio switching between devices easy pairing experience
  • Comfortable for long time period :expressionless:
  • Bluetooth 5.0

SONY WH1000XM3 -349USD/349EUR

They have:

  • Comfortable for long time period (the most comfortable over ear wireless I’ve tried!) :fire:
  • Good battery life
  • USB-C for charging
  • Battery life 15h+
  • APTx HD, SBC and AAC, LDAC
  • Good ANC
  • 3,5 mm cable for music
  • Foldable design for compact storage
  • Play music when out of battery through AUX

They don’t have:

  • Charge and play music :scream:
  • Replacable earpads
  • Clear noise cancelling mics for calls
  • Easy audio switching between devices easy pairing experience
  • Bluetooth 5.0

Subjective:

Audio Quality is not great :expressionless:

My pick?

Based on this Sony should be a better choice but I will pick B&W 10/10 times because of it’s tremendous sound quality! They are not so comfortable but the audio quality is just beyond Sony, Bose.

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#3

Does this mean you won’t be able to make them with all those features? And what is the target price for the headphones?

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#4

Have yet to do any research, but here are some cans I’ve personally used written up for challenge #1. I’ll throw a brief couple of lines on just impressions I have and then hit the requested points.

V-Moda Crossfade Wireless 2 - $280/$350 USD
I’ve previously owned a number of V-Moda’s products, notably an earlier model of the Crossfade Wireless. For the shortcomings they had, there is one thing that they nailed better than almost anyone else- headphones built like a tank.

Have:

  • Replaceable earpads (somewhat different method of this than many other headphones. plastic plate at base of cushion that slots in)
  • Base AptX, and supports AAC but only on a more expensive sku
  • 3.5mm support
  • Play music when out of battery through AUX
  • Foldable design for compact storage

Doesn’t have:

  • USB C
  • Battery life
  • Clear noise cancelling mics
  • ANC
  • Easy audio switching
  • Long-term wear comfort (Or at least didn’t for me, I had to buy deeper ear cushions to make them comfortable. Great after that however)

Subjective:

  • Audio quality/Wow
    I find that they have actually surprisingly good quality despite the codec supports (perhaps due to the DAC and amp in the headphones). The sound profile isn’t something everyone likes however, so as usual this one is pretty subjective

Don’t actually know:

  • Play while charging

Surface Headphones - $350 USD
Despite trying a number of other sets, I’ve actually kept these and use them daily. Why? The usb-c and hands-down the best user experience in a set of wireless cans. Interfaces? the rotary dial blows everything out of the water. Device switching? 100% seamless and flawless handoff between two devices in the same room (hit 3 devices and you need to select which two you want to handoff between)

Have:

  • USB-C for charging
  • Battery life 15h+ (or at least I get it out of mine)
  • Clear noise cancelling mics for calls
  • 3,5 mm cable for music
  • Charge and play music
  • Play music when out of battery through AUX
  • ANC
  • Easy audio switching between devices easy pairing experience
  • Comfortable for long time period

Doesn’t have:

  • Foldable design for compact storage
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Replacable earpads
  • APTx HD, LDAC and other codecs

Subjective:
The audio could be better. BUT THE BLUETOOTH/HANDOFF IS STILL UNPARALLELED.

My pick
Surface Headpones. Better audio may be great, built like a tank is awesome for longevity, being able to fold up smaller is great… but the day-to-day difference in having a fast charging USB-C and an excellent bluetooth audio handoff wins out in the end. They’re both expensive though. :sob:

3 Likes

#5

Bang & Olufsen H9i (https://www.bang-olufsen.com/en/headphones/beoplay-h9i?variant=beoplay-h9i-pine) would appear to match some of the criteria in challenge No 1, with the following exceptions:
RRP is €500
Bluetooth is 4.2
They’re not foldable
Comfort & sound quality are entirely subjective so it’s not possible to say if they match those criteria.

2 Likes

#6

I also couldn’t find headphones that would hit all of the must haves. But I do currently own a pair that hit a few of the criterias.

AIAIAI TMA-2 - Wireless 2 - $315/€280

They have:

  • USB-C for charging
  • Replacable earpads
  • Wow Audio Quality (The drivers can be customized to your need)
  • Battery life 15h+
  • AptX HD, aptX, AAC, SBC
  • 3,5 mm cable for music
  • Charge and play music
  • Play music when out of battery through AUX
  • Comfortable for long time period

They don’t have:

  • Bluetooth 5.0 (it’s 4.2)
  • Clear noise cancelling mics for calls (has a mic but it’s bad)
  • Foldable design for compact storage (it’s able to bend if you want it to, but better left unfolded)
  • Easy audio switching between devices easy pairing experience
  • ANC
2 Likes

#7

On the contrary. Goal here for us is to hit as many of them as possible since none of them appear unreasonable. As for the price point for sure not more than $200

As after talking to top headphone manufacturers making cans for Sennheiser, B&O, B&W, etc headphones don’t cost that much to make

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#8

The biggest challenge is the Bluetooth 5.0 on headphones that are good.
Audio-Technica ATH-DSR9BT Wireless Over-Ear Headphones, have most of the requisites but don’t fold well and aren’t USB 5.0 Also they have to be hooked up via USB for the High resolution audio. Also no noise cancelling.

Most of the others have been mentioned…

0 Likes

#9

B&B Pure - 352 CHF/ €313/ $352
Currently a Indiegogo-Project. Close to shipping.

They have:

  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Replacable earpads
  • Battery life 20h
  • Clear noise cancelling mics
  • APTX, APTX HD, SBC, AAC
  • 3.5mm cable for music
  • ANC
  • Play music when out of battery through AUX
  • Foldable design for compact storage

They don’t have:

  • USB-C for charging
  • Charge and play music (but 50% charged in 30min)

Supposed to have but obviously not tested:

  • Wow Audio Quality (adjusts to your hearing capabilities)
  • Easy audio switching between devices easy pairing experience
  • Comfortable for long time period

I think this is very close.

1 Like

#10

Maybe we can compare to the EOZ Air, a finished indiegogo project. They fit most “must haves”?
I’d like to know what eve would improve compared to the EOZ?

1 Like

#11

It would be interesting if Eve could contact tech reviewers as well as to what their opinions are on headphones and what comes close to this list.

3 Likes

#12

Hi everyone. I was one of the original writers quoted in the first post that kicked off this campaign to design a pair of headphones. I love headphones and audio design. I wanted to write my thoughts here MUCH earlier, but didn’t have the time - now I had a break to write. I have a little bit of technical knowledge, as well - and I think I have a broad enough understanding to help everyone here get a bit more knowledge on this subject and reasons why wireless headphones seem to always pale in comparison to wired.

I’ll start off with a couple points.

  1. Wireless headphones need electronics. Wired headphones do not.
  2. There is more than one major technology for speaker drivers. Planar magnetic is one (example at low price-point) that I strongly feel we should consider because it would drastically set us apart in some areas, and there’s not a lot of competition. I was going to put these links at the end,but they really do need to be up front:

CNet reviews HE-400 - “First-rate clarity, detail, and bass impact by way of new driver technology help propel the HiFiMan HE-400 headphones to the top of their price class”
rtings.com - planar explained
Massdrop - HD4xx Planar headphones: “As for quality, once again, at $169? I can’t name another set of headphones at this price point that can beat it in the full-size market. Yet, the headphone is also a Planar too? Okie Dokie!”

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.1.
This seems simple on the surface, but there’s really a lot involved here. Why should you read this information? To help us keep perspective.

Electronics add complexity to the question of “good sound”. Lots of complexity. Especially to something as sensitive as audio. I’m all for packing all of the community mentioned features in, but we must be very careful not to sacrifice acoustical design for these features.

It goes from simple wiring to complex electronics as soon as you add Bluetooth. Why? Signals. The source must send a digital signal to the receiver to use Bluetooth. A digital signal now means that the conversion from digital to analog and the amplification step must happen in the headphone. This introduces a lot of complexity, potential for interference, and automatically comes with drawbacks.

Effectively: wired = 3.5mm jack, a headband, ear pads and speaker drivers. Simple. Wireless? You need a 3.5mm jack, a headband, ear pads, speaker drivers, an amplifier, a DAC, EM shielding, a Bluetooth receiver/computer to process the signal, a battery, a charging circuit, as well as any ANC hardware (which is a whole 'nother set: microphones, processing chips, etc). There’s a LOT of complexity here. Once you add all these electronics and a power circuit into the headphone, you need more parts to make sure there is no interference introduced into the sound.

If your budget for PRODUCTION of headphones is $150 USD, all-in, for a tidy 33% profit margin at $200 MSRP after all design/manufacturing expenses, you can put a lot of effort into designing a wired pair of headphones. You can’t just slap expensive drivers with some pads into a headband and call it a day. There’s design involved. Obviously, you could use some incredible drivers and materials with a $150 budget, and still have a great audio design.

If you try to do the same thing wirelessly, well…we need to be careful. A good pair of wireless headphones will need to have an incredibly low noise floor to compete with wired headphones. This is hard to do with all of those electronics packed in so closely together. This takes design time.

To illustrate this point, a very popular DAC/AMP unit is the FiiO E10K. This is a very nice little unit, and really makes any reasonably good pair of headphones sound really good. The DAC chip used in this unit costs pennies. I believe it’s under $2. That’s what makes the unit tick, as well as the amplification hardware. I’d estimate the actual hardware costs $10 at most. It’s the design to make sure there’s no interference and the ouput is clean. No noise. I actually own this amplifier - it blows away the hardware in my phone as well as my desktop PC. Not even remotely comparable. A good amplifier and DAC circuit is very important to quality of sound.

This little amplifier costs $75 USD, and I believe the original MSRP was higher. That’s just the DAC and amplifier, let alone a much more complex system with many more electronics that involves putting all of that hardware right next to the analog outputs (otherwise known as the speaker drivers). It takes time to design these things properly to reduce noise.

Electronics in headphones make it very difficult to design a pair of headphones for a serious listener, or even someone who just really likes music.

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.2. Planar magnetic drivers. Fairly simple concept, actually. Regular drivers, properly known as dynamic drivers, use a diaphragm that is vibrated by a magnetic coil which is attached at the neck of the diaphragm. This diaphragm is a thin sheet of material, generally cone-shaped. The vibration produces sound. A planar driver is similar - except the diaphragm is vibrated by magnets which run parallel to it. Since it is suspended by the magnetic fields produced by the magnets, it can be extremely thin, and since it is so thin it is much more responsive, especially at bass frequencies.

Planar technology has inherent benefits which surpass what is possible with regular drivers. They come with some drawbacks, but the technology has greater potential than dynamic drivers. One example is when you compare planar headphones to high-end dynamic headphones. The type of high-end dynamic headphone we’re talking about here are headphones that are “hard to drive”, or “high-impedance”. What does this mean? It means that the magnetic coil we mentioned earlier is thinner, which provides more precise sound and changes in frequency/pitch. It also means it takes more electricity to produce the same amount of sound energy. Most high-impedance headphones CANNOT be used on the go with your phone, since they require powerful amplifiers to work properly.

The precision afforded by the diaphragm design in a planar driver allows for lower distortion in the audio signal,improves clarity and precision of pitch changes, similar to a high-impedance dynamic headphone, while not requiring more power.

Planar headphones are known for having very powerful bass, while still being very clear. The clarity provided in low frequencies by planar drivers is natural to the technology - you can get powerful yet good quality bass with planar much more easily than dynamic headphones, without making any major sacrifices in clarity and power in the upper frequencies.

An example of high-end Planar headphones is the LCD series by Audeze, with their website linked here.

At the top are a few more sites as reference material, with some real proof that planar technology is superior.

7 Likes

#13

I’m sorry I “bought” these headphones before eve woke up from the long sleep… But even if they haven’t the same exact characteristics they seem to be a good piece of tech for the price (at least for first backers)

https://www.mu6.live

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#14

I have the EOZ Air and they meet my needs really well as I usually use headphones in the gym and in or by the pool. Compact, waterproof, long battery, sound very good and very reasonably priced. Nice-to-haves that they don’t have are adjusting volume from the ear bud and it can be a difficult to switch between devices.

Saying that I think the headphones Eve are proposing are significantly different and aimed at a different market.

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#15

I am with you on this…
What if we put the electronics and the battery on top of the head?
Maybe even DAC…
That way the weight overall would be better distributed and make them feel much lighter then they actually are…

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#16

@Fabio_CF Yep we just got one sample to have a look:) One odd thing is that they don’t support AUX?

@joener let us know when you get them how they feel! Only concern I would have with them is that they seem to have charging cable part of the housing so in case if it breaks then i guess it would be a tricky repair. But very interesting how they are in real life!

@Walkop very interesting in-depth comment you made here:) You are right there are quite many more complexities in making wirelss headset as there is an actual PCB inside with DAC and Amp which has big effect on audio (the better the component the better the sound ) Now our strategy here is to pick tier 1 manufacturer and then see with them what is doable to avoid any of the 2nd/3rd tier maker problems. Will get back to your post in more details!

Thank you all for posting:) Let’s continue the search. This really helps in terms of better understanding what is there and what we can do better.

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#17

I much prefer Sony’s audio for a noise cancelling, wireless choice over the B&W’s. For wired listening I would not use them at all.

1 Like

#18

denon ah gc 30 could match lots of those points. couldn’t find all the specs on denons site… https://www.denon.de/de/product/portableaudio/onearheadphone/ahgc30#

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#19

Want to chime in here for a bit and tell a few of my thoughts :wink:

Just a very important note to everyone who wants this feature (because I know it’s requested) - Charge and Play is a really great feature, but comes with it’s own drawback. Because when you charge it, this will HIGHLY impact sound quality.
What do I mean? Well, I’ve got a nice BT-receiver that I’m using with my wired headphones right now, and whenever I plug it into power and listen at the same time, I hear a very audible hissing, that is usually strong enough to overlay over speech.

@dibadibadu: From what I see it’s got no USB-C.
From my experience with Denon (got the AH-MM400 at home ) it’ll likely also not have:

  • Replaceable Earpads
  • Easy Switching

But that was a really good find! They’ re ~350€ though so same price-category as most BT headphones.

3 Likes

#20

That’d put more stress on the top of your head - also you’d need a longer cable-run and you’ve got much less space compared to when you have it at an earcup. But great thought!

@Walkop I totally agree with you! A low noise-floor is essential for a good sounding device. Oh, and the E10K is a fucking amazing DAC that just misses a bit of output power - I got the same bad boy and it rocks :wink:

Regarding the Planar Drivers - they’re very interesting, but I feel far out of the price range we’d be shooting for in this headphone. I mean - Audeze has the supply line already covered, and I’m pretty sure that Planar Drivers eat quite a bunch of power.

Why? Well, if you just look at the charging speed of 3 hours from 0 to 100% on a 1A charger, this means that we’re looking at a ~15Wh battery. Lemme repeat that - ~15Wh battery. Now, assuming that the Sony WH-1000MX3 have the same battery size (due to roughly the same charging speed) we can see that those bad boys last ~30 hours.
So we’d need a pretty wicked large battery to achieve the long lasting battery life we want. Don’t get me wrong - when I first read planar drivers my inner audio nerd got all giddy and hyped - but I’m unsure if it’s really the best way to go for us when we try to compete and provide an experience that’s as good for less money.

Because - don’t get me wrong. I think with Planar driver’s we’d have the best sound quality. But does the best sound quality that’s far above Sony matter to the average consumer? Would he buy an Eve Muse if it costs 400€, has 10 hours battery life than the 30 hours on the Sony?
I don’t think the average consumer would buy that - but a Muse that sounds as good as the Sony, with 25h battery life and that only cost 250€? Now we’re talking.

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