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February 2019 - Making Sound Waves: The Next Generation of Headphones at CES 2019

By Liam Kivirist of TechSocket.net

The Consumer Electronics Show held annually in Las Vegas is the hub of innovation for technology across a wide spectrum of new products and services. From super-rugged headsets for niche use cases like in construction to headphones that tailor themselves to your own unique hearing characteristics, CES 2019 was home to a fascinating diversity of new Hi-Fi audio gear. Here’s a roundup of some of the most strikingly impressive headphones I had the chance to listen to at CES 2019.

Breaking the immersion sound barrier: Sennheiser AMBEO AR/MR experience


Sennheiser AMBEO AR/MR Headphones

With the launch of their new AMBEO AR One headset at CES 2019, veteran audio manufacturer Sennheiser believe that the visuals of augmented (AR) and mixed (MR) reality are only half of the quest for immersion. For an AR or MR application to be truly realistic, you need to be immersed both visually and auditorily.

Sennheiser aims to accomplish this immersion with their new “transparent hearing” technology that uses an array of microphones on the AMBEO AR One in-ear headphones to accurately blend sounds from the AR/MR experience and the outside world.

On the show floor of CES 2019, I had the opportunity to stop by Sennheiser’s booth and experience the new AMBEO AR One first-hand with a brief private demo that paired the headphones with the Magic Leap One AR/MR headset. Set up in an acoustically isolated room at Sennheiser’s booth, the demo I explored allowed me to virtually position, capture, and play back sounds in a 3D space.

Throughout the demo, I was amazed by how well the AMBEO AR One positioned virtual sounds with 360-degree spatial audio and mixed them with real-world sounds. The “transparent hearing” technology is so effective at blending virtual and real-world sounds that I was able to easily hold a conversation with the Sennheiser representative guiding me through the demo while simultaneously interacting with the virtual sounds placed around the room.

The AMBEO AR One will be available for $250 in partnership with the Magic Leap One AR/MR headset and will be available for purchase as an accessory to the headset on Magic Leap’s website. The AMBEO AR One is the first pair of headphones that Magic Leap has approved in their “Works With Magic Leap” program.

For most people, headphones have become a daily part of our lives both in and out of the workplace. They allow us to stay focused by listening to music, podcasts, and phone calls while taking the bus, hitting the gym, or mowing the lawn. While in-ear headphones/earbuds have become a common solution, they have also earned a reputation for being very fragile due to their small size and simplistic design. But ToughTested, a long-time manufacturer of rugged electronics, is looking to change the perception of in-ear headphones with their new ProComm Flex 2 headset unveiled at CES 2019.

On the outside, the TouchTested ProComm Flex 2 sports an understated neckband headphone design that could easily slide under the radar at the gym or on public transportation. The ProComm Flex 2 also includes all the features you’d expect to see on a pair of wireless headphones, like Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, an estimated 10-hours of playback time and clear sound quality. What isn’t apparent from a glance is just how durable the headphone’s design truly is. These are a set of headphones created to go anywhere, do anything and handle every situation with ease.

Durable headphones fit for any environment: ToughTested ProComm Flex 2

ToughTested ProComm Flex 2

The key to the ProComm Flex 2’s ruggedness is the premium materials and unique design elements featured throughout the headset. The headset feels hefty and solid in the hand with each earbud sporting a braided Kevlar cable. One interesting aspect of the headphones’ design is the unique flexible, yet beefy, neckband that allows the user to bend the headset into the position most comfortable for them. All this comes together to provide the ProComm Flex 2 with an IPX5 water resistance rating.

In addition to durability, the ProComm Flex 2 also offers several additional features designed specifically for scenarios with extreme or hard use. ToughTested has outfitted the ProComm Flex 2’s microphone with their “EQ-Voice” active noise cancellation technology, isolating the user’s voice to provide clear phone calls in busy or noisy environments. The ProComm Flex 2 also includes a set of flexible foam ear tips to better isolate the user, providing cleaner audio and potentially reducing the risk of hearing loss with a 23db Noise Reduction Rating.

Headphones to help you hear more: Beyerdynamic MOSAYC Sound Personalization


Beyerdynamic-Lagoon ANC

While we can talk about the hot new audiophile gear all day, the sad truth is that our headphones are only as good as our hearing. As the human body ages, the span of audible frequencies (typically 20 Hz to 20 kHz for young people) will steadily decrease, especially for those with regular exposure to loud noise in construction, manufacturing or other such fields.

Iconic German audio manufacturer Beyerdynamic has partnered with Mimi Hearing Technologies to tackle this issue with their new MOSAYC sound personalization that can help you hear more.

Adjusted through a smartphone app, Beyerdyamic’s MOSAYC sound personalization technology works to adapt to your hearing, build a sound profile on you, and adjust the sound output accordingly. The back-end technology of the app is handled by Mimi Hearing Technologies. The company uses over 1,500,000 data points to create the best sound personalization experience for the user. Unfortunately, due to the high traffic of the show floor at CES 2019, I wasn’t able to go through the full listening test with the app, but the impact from just inputting my birth year was quite impressive.

The Beyerdynamic Lagoon ANC I was testing didn’t sound as though MOSAYC colored the sound too radically. But rather, it felt as though it increased the number of frequencies audible on the original track. Each instrument on a song sounded fuller, as though more individual frequencies were included in producing the sound. I imagine that for older listeners with more potential hear loss, the effects would be even more drastic.

MOSAYC is currently available on six of Beyerdynamic’s premium wireless headphones, including the new Lagoon ANC wireless noise-canceling headphones named a CES Innovation Award honoree at CES 2019.


Liam Kivirist

is a freelance writer for national magazines and editor for TechSocket.net. Follow his work at LiamKivirist.com.
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If you like the photographs, take a look at John D. Ivanko Photography

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