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Hands On with Even, $99 earphones customized to the way you hear

TechCrunch TechCrunch 28/06/2016 Sarah Buhr

Dr. Dre may make some of the most popular headphones on the planet but Beats are likely tuned to the way Dre likes to listen to the music – with heavy bass. You are not Dre and your ears and my ears and everyone else’s ears hear a slightly different way. Even your left and right ear have a distinct way of listening to different types of sounds.

Even is a new set of earphones launching today promising a unique listening experience tuned to the way you pick up sound in each ear.

The headphones take an “ear print” of the way you hear through a short listening test and then adapt to the way both your left and right ear hear.

Former composer Danny Aronson and his co-founder Ofer Raz came up with the idea for specialized ear gear while working together in Isreal. But they’ve got a lot of competition in the space.

Even contends with popular headphone makers like Beats and the many, many other headphone and earphone makers out there but also startups promising a unique listening experience.

Nura is another headphone maker also promising to tune to the listeners frequency. Nura raised nearly $1 million with close to 3,800 backers through a popular Kickstarter campaign in January but has yet to ship.

Even hits its main competitor there by going on sale direct to consumers today. It also comes at a much more affordable price – Nura is $399 retail vs. Even’s $99 offering.

The two also work with slightly different techniques to adjust to the listener’s ears. Nura uses OAE (otoacoustic emission) using a microphone to listen to the faint sounds returning from the inner ear. Even uses a calibration technique based on listener feedback.

Even’s virtual character Sarah (there are so many of us) helps set the listener up at the beginning by walking them through a test for different types of sound in each ear. You press the big “E” for Even button on the controls and Sarah will begin to walk you through a virtual guide to help determine the right settings in the left and right ear. You’ll hear eight different bits of music in each ear and press the “E” button as soon as you pick up on the music to let Sarah know your levels. You can reset your Even headphones if you mess up or want to fine tune it as well by hitting the “E” button on the controls.

I took Even for a spin to test it out myself. Here’s what I like:

  • I tested the difference between an old pair of pink over-ear Beats headphones I use to jog with and Even and really could tell the difference in sound. I hit play on a few new songs of the week (what’s up Adele) and could hear every instrument like it was in surround sound. Every drum beat, crank and electric sound came through crystal clear right along with the vocals.
  • Black and white designations for the left and right ear so you don’t have to guess which ear pieces goes where.
  • Sleek design with an in-line controller easily accessible to turn up or down the volume, hit play or pause and recalibrate.
  • Cables that won’t tangle. High-quality cloth instead of exposed, rubbery wires that catch on each other is key in any headphone design.
  • Adjustable silicone earphone sizes from small, medium or large.
  • Built-in USB charger with 9 hours of battery life.

Here’s what I don’t like:

  • No over-ear option. I listen to music the most when I run or walk somewhere. Even doesn’t have an over-ear design and the headphones could easily slip out while on a jog or even walking. You can use a clip and Aronson told me that would be included in the product eventually but it would be nice to see a design set up for running.
  • Those great tangle-less cables also make a rough noise when you move. No good if you are focused on getting a great sound. Every brush it made with my shirt could be heard loudly in both ears and it really was annoying.
  • Why isn’t Even a wireless headphone? You have to plug it in anyway. A Bluetooth-connected option would  solve the noise problems with the cables.

Overall, I like where the company is going – better listening for the way I hear. I would like to see a wireless option or something less irritating than the current cables but overall a good pair of headphones for the price. It sucks to plug in, turn on a song and feel the need to continue adjusting volume, depending on the song or instruments being played. I like the idea of just playing music and getting quality surround-sound in an affordable headphone.

It sucks to plug in, turn on a song and feel the need to continue adjusting volume and I like the idea of just playing music and getting quality surround-sound in an affordable headphone. If you are finicky about your listening experience but don’t want to pay a hefty price I’d say these are a good bet and you don’t have to wait for the manufacturer to get them.

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