Exploring 3D Virtual Reality and Smart Noise Canceling Headphones

After my CES experience with Ossic, Dirac, Sennheiser AMBEO Smart Surround, and the AKG N90Q, I've begun to spend a little time rooting around for potentially interesting headphones and requesting samples for further investigation.

The tricky bit, it seems, is that terminology for these nacent headphone types has not been firmly established and it's tricky to find search terms that confidently uncover the field. None the less, I figured you might enjoy some links I've found:

Ossic X - The surprisingly convincing VR headphones I heard at CES. Available sometime this year; sample requested.

Bose Hearphones - Quietly announced Bose assisted listening headphones that have smart noise canceling that reduces background noise but can emphasize coherent sounds. It let's you hear table conversation better in noisy restaurants but also acts as a normal noise canceling headphone and wireless headset. Available sometime this year; sample requested.

Hear One - Similar to the Bose Hearphone but with some addition features that allow you to EQ and put sound effects on outside sounds. Not yet available; sample requested.

Binauric OpenEars - Similar to the Sennheiser AMBEO Smart Surround, the Binauric OpenEars is both a smart noise canceler and a binaural mic that will allow you to record binaural audio to your smartphone or GoPro. Not yet available; sample requested.

Avegant Glyph - A combined headphone and VR display. The over-ear headphone can be worn like a traditional headphone, but the headband can be rotated down in front of the eyes and has eyepieces for VR display. It's an interesting idea. I tried these at CES 2016 and they were pretty poor, but it's probably worth giving them a second shot at some point.

Samsung Entrim 4D - Just a press release on this one so far, but boy is this weird. The Entrim 4D gets the "4" for adding the dimension of motion. This headphone has a Galvanic Vestibular Stimulation (GVS) device that effects you vestibular balance organs in an attempt to fool you into thinking your body is moving in various controlled directions. Yikes! Trying to find a contact for more info and a sample when available.

3D Sound One Module - This is basically a head tracker that attaches to your headphones and communicates with a Windows PC or Apple iOS via Bluetooth. A virtual sound card app is installed on the computer or iOS device that then modifies the audio to provide virtualization with head tracking. They also make a similarly electronified headphone. Pursuing samples.

Hooke Audio Verse - Another Bluetooth headset with the ability to create binaural recordings. Not yet available.

Cape 3D - Another 3D noise canceler with virtualization for stereo and surround encoded media. Not yet available.

I have to admit my main reason for posting this is that it remains quite difficult to figure out what the heck is going on in this field. I'd love for any InnerFidelity readers who are, or become aware of, any new fangled smart headphones to let me know of them in the comments below. Thank in advance!

hookeaudio's picture

Hi Tyler! Anthony here, founder of Hooke Audio. You mentioned "it's tricky to find search terms that confidently uncover the field". We've been in the 3D Audio space longer than anyone (mid 2014) and have a lot of experience with this. I'd love to chat more, shoot us an email at info@hookeaudio.com? Thanks for the great article!

Randy Bessinger's picture

Worth mentioning although more room emulation than VR. Will do the new codecs and there is an intended database of studios and highend theaters from around the world that can be loaded with your Own measur d head transfer function.. Exciting times.

castleofargh's picture

waves nx also has a head tracker. I have one but my main computer is on win7 and the tracker works with BT LE that win7 doesn't have...
anyway it's not perfection but IMO better than nothing. the software can be a basic stuff that appears as a virtual output with minimalist settings and 3 preset that you enjoy or not. they also have a VST to work in DAW with a little more choices like the position of the speakers in stereo or with more virtual speakers if you listen to multi channel tracks.
both can use the head tracker or a webcam(needs lot of light and a good deal of CPU).

and as Randy just said smyth realiser. I'm starting to think that you have some personal issues with those guys because they're like the first name coming up anytime someone mentions head tracking and room simulation, yet you never seem to care for them.

and I guess at some point stuff like Out Of Your Head can be added to head tracking to make for a "non HRTF customized" room simulation.

robhu's picture

The Oculus Rift is one of the main VR headsets and it has integrated headphones. Perhaps trying those would be a good idea?

jeffporter's picture

From this point forward you will be called Tyler...hahaha

Randy Bessinger's picture

Having met them and Lorr and Having put Kal Rubinson of Stereophile in touch with them for his review of the 8, I can't think of any reason for issues but who knows. It does frost me that getting the image out of your headphones is this big future goal...but these guys already did it. Kind of beyond me.

molin's picture

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Nathan_h's picture

Smyth realiser is the gold standard. Please be sure to cover them when you do your round up. They pretty much defined this space.

I keep hoping that the Out of Your Head software will make it into a simple box like a raspberry pi and also be able to position a center speaker well in the room soundfield, and incorporate head tracking. That would be a giant killer.

Richter Di's picture

Yes Tyll, please cover the Smyth A16. I have ordered mine via Kickstarter and made my measurement and demo at the Paris son et image show end of 2016. Really amazing. They intend to deliver in May and I am very confident that they will
I also ordered the Ossic X as development package but unfortunately the original date for delivering the prototype was pushed from August 2016 to December 2016 and now hopefully finally to March 2016. The German computer magazine ct Heise did a small article about them but wrote they where not convinced about the audio loudspeaker soround demo. I still hope as I with the development package I will receive two of them. So they better be good ;-)
Finally regarding the mentioned 3d-sound-one-module. I bought this too but my computer crashed badly when I installed it. So I could only listen to the iOs App and that was not very good. The calibration process for the tracker via headmovemebt failed always, I even asked other people to do it and filmed it and send the videos to the developers. It only worked when I moved the headphone with my hands. The sound quality was unfortunately not convincing and when you performed head movements the "loudspeakers" would move party with you. So I have them and you can have them if you want, in case they do not send you a review sample.

RennesNine's picture

Which one of these has the greatest user expirience?

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