Annoying headphones that leak sound are a thing of the past – even on open-ear headphones – thanks to a new technology developed in Japan.
The progress comes from telecommunications giant Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT), which had previously announced it is working on a headphone-free way for passengers to enjoy in-flight entertainment.
It now appears that that idea has been fleshed out further, with NTT adapting the idea for headphones. The company says its new super-small speaker enclosure is specifically designed for open-ear headphones and can confine sound to a very small space. NTT claims that this allows you to “communicate with people around you without worrying about sound leakage to the environment”.
NTT has dubbed the tech Personalized Sound Zone (PSZ), where the headphones’ speakers cleverly offset normal-phase and reverse-phase sound waves against each other to neutralize at a set distance.
The company claims that this technique will allow the user to listen to music at 80dB, while anyone who is 15cm away from the headphones will have the sound inaudible.
A set of earphones with PSZ technology will be released by Sonority, the affiliate brand of NTT. The wired headphones, called the MWE001, weigh just 9 grams and hook over the ear.
Successfully crowdfunded last month on the Japanese site greenfunding.jp, the MWE001s have an open-ear design, which also means they don’t isolate the user from outside noise.
The MWE001s with PSZ technology will be showcased at: a showcase for research and development hosted by NTT next week.
Analysis: PSZ technology seems to open up a new way of listening
When NTT first unveiled its stunning localized audio technology earlier this year, we couldn’t stop thinking about all the possible applications – from discrete translations at conferences to quiet listening zones in libraries, the possibilities seemed both broad and genuinely useful.
It’s therefore very exciting to see that big idea taken a step further with the new headphone technology.
We’ve seen many examples of open-ear earphones like Bose’s SoundWear and Sony’s SRS-NS7 neck speakers and bone conduction headphone models like the excellent Shokz OpenRun Pro that we awarded five stars in our review.
All of these are great for anyone who finds channel-type earphones uncomfortable, with the added benefit of being more hygienic than regular in-ears.
However, each of these options is prone to some degree of leakage, which makes NTT’s new technology particularly exciting.
The big question now remains how good this focused audio tech sounds in practice. We can’t wait to try out the MWE001s and see if they make it onto our best headphone list.
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