Based out of Israel, Even is an audio startup that designs headphones tailored to the listener’s hearing. It starts with a short audio test of the frequencies you can hear in each ear, with an algorithm Even says stitches the resulting data into a sound profile called, your “EarPrint”.
It’s an interesting concept that works well in the instances I’ve used it. At the same time, this is a feature I’d like to see having a proven advantage, rather than anecdotal experiences.
What is an “EarPrint” and how does it help listeners?
Before I describe what Even’s headphones are doing to produce a sound that is “tailored” to your hearing, I have to provide some disclaimers.
Unlike your eye prescription, to-date there are no scientific or medical institutions that have stated an Even “ear print” to be an official measurement of your auditory abilities. That being said, Even’s argument for the H2 serving as “glasses for your ears”, does have some merit.
Due to the fact that not all humans have the same hearing: your left and right ears receive and translate vibrations traveling through the air differently. Aging, exposure that may damage the cochlea, etc. are all variables that can alter your auditory perception over time.
Meanwhile, just about every pair of consumer headphones in existence is designed on a one-size-fits-all (or hears) basis. So in theory, you’re never really getting the most out of them.
Short version: the algorithm understands your sense of hearing’s upper and lower limits for different sound frequencies. The H2 headphones then pushes sound to the frequencies that you’re best at hearing, first.
Using tailored headphones everyday
Using the H2 headphones without the sound tailoring is pretty good. Mid, highs and lows are balanced. If you’re used to noise-cancelling, over-ear headphones then it comes as a helpful surprise that the on-ear H2 has a tight seal, without too much outside interference.
Turn on the EarPrint mode (via the app or the dedicated button) and the listening experience completely changes. Because it’s tailored to how I hear things, it’s more difficult to describe how I hear rather than what I hear.
I’d say with EarPrint turned on all and any music sounds, closer to me. It’s almost uncanny, since I do like bass with my music, but not in an overwhelming manner (ahem, Beats).
Songs are more intimate, clear and very balanced, with a touch of bass exactly where I want it. I can enjoy listening to anything from Lana Del Rey to Playboy Carti, without using high volume levels to compensate for lack of bass or treble.
By the way, lower volume levels preserve your hearing in the long-run.
But here’s the most interesting thing! To another listener, my EarPrint sounds “too intense”. In this case, I’d just get a friend to perform their own EarPrint test, where the response would usually positive. No matter how I look at this it is pretty cool, in a modern “what do you hear in the conch shell”, sort of way.
But I’ve also noticed a drawback: like in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, where a tiny bit of quality is sacrificed from filtering noise in your environment, some sound fidelity feels like it’s been lost.
It’s not detrimental to the sound experience, but the difference is even more apparent when you switch to the regular, stereo mode or if I grab another pair of good headphones and listen to the same track. If the EarPrint technology is to be believed, non-tailored sound is what I’ve been used to my entire life, so of course I would find differences between the H2 and another pair of headphones.
These are not the most aesthetically pleasing pair of headphones; what they lack in style and form they make up with serious audio quality and customization. Sony, Bose, Sennheiser and others take note: the future of personal audio might just involve creating your own, personalized listening profile based on your hearing.
It’s just too cool a feature to not want alongside the stereo, Dolby and noise-cancelling headphones of the world. If you’re feeling adventurous and want to try these out, starting today Even is selling the H2 directly and listing it on Amazon soon after.
However, I’d wait and see where this trend (and further research) goes before I settle on listening to what the H2 thinks I should hear.
Price as Reviewed: $299 at Even