T.H.E. Show Newport 2013: Mozaex BluWavs 7.1 Surround Headphone System
Mozaex BluWavs 7.1 Surround Headphone System (expected under $2400, availability about Sept. 2013)
I've heard a number of multi-drive surround headphones and without exception they all suuuucked! So as I sat down to have a listen to the Mozaex BluWavs 7.1 surround headphones my expectations were pretty low. Surprise, surprise, they sounded pretty damned good.
Theoretically, we localize sound in part by the reflections off our outer-ear (pinna) and how those reflections change depending on the direction from which the sound comes. The problem is that headphones act as a coupler, and sound propagation is no where near the same in headphones as it is in free space. Simply putting drivers in different locations in the headphones seems unlikely to me to deliver the same impression as speakers located in various parts of the room. I fundamentally have a strong belief that the best way to do surround in headphones is to have single drivers and then do a lot of DSP (digital signal processing) to add the cues one would hear to the various channels and then sum them into the two channels of the headphone. My experience with the BluWavs has me rethinking that theory.
No, I didn't get a convincing 'out-of-head' experience with this system, but I did experience a more spacious sound than I expected. Further, the overall sound quality did seem quite good. The control box has knobs to adjust the various pairs of 7.1 surround channels, and I did listen to each pair of channels in isolation to see if I could hear any significant spacial localization. Results seemed mixed to me during this short listening session. I did experience some sense of spacial information, but it wasn't compelling or convincing. On the other hand, I'm well aware of the fact that our brains need time to sort these things out, and there did seem to be enough spacial cues that after becoming accustom to the system one might indeed be able to develop a stronger sense of space with these headphones.
I've also heard a number of headphones that include tactile drivers to deliver a better visceral sense of low bass notes. Again without exception, this type of driver has been a disappointment in the past. Almost always this type of driver seems like a very narrow-band gimmick. Here again, the BluWavs system did manage to deliver surprisingly good performance in this regard. Well done!
Bottom line: the BluWavs 7.1 System has caught my attention, and I very much look forward to the chance to have an extended audition to really get a feel for its capabilities. Very cool!