We haven’t had a post about project Muse in a while. Mainly it is due to the fact that community requirements are quite clear right now and we have been working in the background on picking the right manufacturer for the Muse to get manufacturing realities infused into the project. With this post I would like to provide an update on what’s been happening in the background.
To set the mood:)
What to do in case elevator starts falling in China
After your suggestions in find these headphones thread we gathered as many headphones as we could of the ones you mentioned and tested them out.
Not all models made it to the picture
Some of the products we already had in the team like B&W PX90, BOSE QC35 and Sony WH1000MX3 others we got online.
Here are our observations:
- First of all we noticed that all of the headsets we tested had poor mic performance picking up incredible amount of surrounding noise making them very unreliable for phone calls.
- None of the headsets ticked all of the community must haves. Some had good audio performance while being uncomfortable, others would have great comfort but lack IO, others had subpar noise cancelling or worst of all spotty Bluetooth connection.
- What sets expensive and affordable headsets apart is build quality and feel. Wobbly buttons, squeaky headbands and non-durable finish.
- Special mention goes to Taotronics headset as it seemed to be a very good value product for it’s price. Build quality was especially impressive. The main downsides were flat sound and some bluetooth issues but if you can live without those it stacked up very well against it’s competitors
- We have also ordered some of the IndieGoGo headphones but haven’t received them yet. (there were few delays)
- We have also tested headphones from Even the startup focusing on making headphones that adjust to your hearing. * While having us very surprised with the sound quality for the first few hours, some issues came shortly afterwards like static noise, constant Bluetooth dropouts and general product quality build.
- Our reference for good neutral audio were Massdrop’s Senheiser HD6XX.
- became clear that community must haves don’t exist in the market as is now especially below $300 price point. Community must haves are(to remind you):
So based on the testing here is how we see Muse in the market currently:
In the upper left circle are good quality audio wireless headphones that offer great music quality but often times lack comfort or some important “user experience features” such as USB C, replaceable earcups, etc.
In the upper right are headphones that are offering better user experience while compromising on Audio quality. None of the options come cheap. When we enter the realm of affordability we get compromises all around.
Muse would offer you great audio and user experience at a reasonable price.
It all sounds great but how can you deliver outstanding audio?
Until today I was doubtful we could. But we have just met a manufacturer that blown us away with performance of their headphones! Their I/Os and other Features community wanted were lacking but the sound was there! My B&W px90 are pair of airplane earbuds in comparison! The amount of detail I could hear from my tidal playlist (especially with wired connection) was mind blowing. The only downside I noticed is that their driver technology is unforgiving and if song is badly processed in the studio it wont give you goosebumps but again it’s not really a downside. Is it placebo talking here? No! While the manufacturer was offering us different types of headphones none were really impressive. The pair i mention above was just lying around in a showroom and I tried it on out of boredom I didn’t know they we anyhow special form others. My team mates share the same feeling! How is this possible(they produce for Audeze btw)? I won’t tell much in this post but i’ll post a picture For now we will say that with their technology diaphragm doesn’t touch metal and therefore distortion is substantially lower than in normal driver.
Fancy render first
Now the real thing!
What else can I tell you about this manufacturer?
The have spent 1 million RMB == 150k USD on plants in their facilities This is the greenest factory I’ve ever seen
Here’s how Muse could stack up against it’s competition based on what we have so far:
This is the full list of features we want Muse to have (in bold as priority)
And here are the specs we are requesting proposals from manufacturers for:
We are meeting manufacturers this week to select the final partner we will work with. We can’t wait to share with you how that goes.
we met few promising ones already
What are your thoughts? Critical feedback is as always very welcome! What are your thoughts on Muse positioning and specs?
What post would you like us to do next?
- Tell more about manufacturing of headphones and debrief of our supplier meetings and their samples.
- More in-depth review of headphones we have tested out
- Skip out on the 2 above and go straight to the next round of polling for community input.
How do you find the length of this post?
- Just fine
- Too long
- Too short
- Length is good, would prefer more posts instead.!
Bonus picture: Me blown away by audio performance of the headphones we found ( this is how I look like when blown away)