The Audeara A-01 headphones are an ambitious project from two Australian doctors with a goal to provide better-personalized audio for every ear. They tackled this problem by using their medical background to create a pair of headphones and an app that tests your hearing.
After testing, it then uses this information to customize the sound specifically to your ears. In theory, this sounds amazing and after raising $100,000 within the first hour of launching on Kickstarter there are big expectations.
Design and Comfort
The Audeara A-01 headphones are solid as a tank. They are built using aluminum, hard plastic, and faux leather ear cups. The headband also features a touch of the faux leather with Audeara embossed on the top and a soft cushion underneath.
You’ll find the music controls, power switch, and headphone jack on the right ear cup. I’m a big fan of headphones that offer a wired back up and I’m glad to see they included this option. While the left ear cup includes the micro USB charging port and the switch that controls noise cancellation.
Unfortunately, like many headphones, the Audeara A-01 use micro USB to charge instead of USB-C. It’s difficult to hold this against them as the vast majority still use micro USB, but I still dream of a world that leaves micro USB in the past and embraces USB-C for everything.
While there is nothing particularly special about the design of the Audeara A-01 headphones they are durable, comfortable, and feel well made. Between the oversized rotating ear cups and the padded headband, you should have no problem wearing the A-01 headphones for hours. However, your ears can become warm after a while, but this is typical of closed back headphones.
When not in use the Audeara A-01 can be kept safe in the include hard case which also includes accessories such as a 3.5mm cable, airline adapter, 6.5mm headphone adapter, accessories bag, and micro USB cable.
The Audeara experience would not be complete without the app, it is an integral part to the experience. The Audeara app is required to test your hearing and apply the Audeara effect. The app itself is designed beautifully and works great.
You’ll be required to set up an account before using it though, which also requires you to verify with your email address. This was a minor annoyance but Audeara says they have plans to enable sharing of profiles and settings in the future.
The hearing test itself is straightforward with easy to follow directions. After you set up your profile you are able to choose from three different accuracy levels. It is important to do the test in a quiet area and not to cheat because you’ll only be cheating yourself. The Audeara app also tests both ears separately because each ear hears differently.
Once you finish the test you are presented with your very own audiogram displaying a line graph for each ear. I found this fascinating looking at how my ears differed in frequency response. No matter what age you are bound to have some hearing loss to some degree. Which is exactly why these headphones were created with this app.
After inspecting the graph you can jump to enabling the effect and once enabled it will stay enabled on the headphones. Whether you choose to use them wired or wireless as long as they are turned on the effect will be applied.
The Audeara app allows you to create multiple profiles and do multiple tests all saved under your profile. So, fear not if you make a mistake or want to test again later on or in another location.
Now, here’s what you’ve all been waiting for. After all of that testing, what do they sound like? Audeara provides you with the ability to apply the effect at 0, 25, 50, 75, and 100 percent. It suggests starting with 50 percent and working your way up from there because 100 percent can be overwhelming at first.
Audeara wasn’t joking, there is a huge difference in sound quality after applying the effect. Like suggested, I started out at 50% and could hear an instant change in the music. Out of curiosity I jumped to 100% and found music unsettling to listen to. I soon switched back to 50% and then began to sample each level with different songs.
While I wish I could say it made the music sound amazing or better than any other headphones I’ve ever heard. That simply was not true, I had high hopes to see what could be done with a medically based test to personalize headphones to my ears. Yet, it did not enhance the music listening experience the way I wish it had.
What I found as I increased the effect was it made the highs stronger on each level while decreasing the bass. Apparently, according to the hearing test, I’m good at hearing the low end and not as good at hearing the high end of the spectrum. It seemed as if it was trying to compensate by turning up the treble and turning down the bass in order to level out the music.
This was an effect I did not care for. I found it most pleasing to listen to at 25 percent and thankfully they provide that option. At 25 percent the highs were boosted slightly while still leaving some bass in the music. However, it still lacked the deep bass, clean highs, and open soundstage that I’ve come to enjoy from other headphones. I ran the test at all three levels and each time I was presented with similar results.
According to Audeara it can take some time for your ears to adjust and for your brain to relearn how to hear. After using them for several weeks exclusively and going back to my favorite headphones that wasn’t true for me. I’ve been listening to music my entire life and I don’t think my brain needs to learn how to hear differently when something sounds good, it just knows.
The addition of noise canceling technology is welcomed in any pair of headphones. It is a stand out feature and a great perk for frequent travelers. Unfortunately, this was another area the Audeara A-01 didn’t quite live up to.
Without a doubt, the A-01 headphones minimized noise but not as much as several other pairs of noise canceling headphones I’ve tried in the past. If this is an important feature in your headphones then there are more affordable headphones on the market that do it better.
Battery life has been stellar on the Audeara A-01 headphones. I have been using them both wired and wireless with the Audeara effect turned on and ANC turned off. They are rated for 45 hours with Bluetooth with the Audeara effect and I’ve yet to kill them. Thankfully, even if you were to run the battery down the wired option guarantees that you’ll never have to be without your music.
The Audeara A-01 headphones sounded so promising. They were taking a medically based approach to improve the way we enjoy our music. I was so excited of the prospect of hearing my favorite songs with a fresh pair of ears. Hoping to hear new them in a whole new light picking up on instruments or vocals in ways I had never heard before. Unfortunately, in practice, they fell far short of that.
It’s not that the Audeara A-01 headphones sounded bad by any means but they lacked the deep rich bass, clean highs, and open soundstage of other more affordable headphones. When you’re asking $499 for a pair of headphones you are hitting at the premium sound end of the market and you better deliver. You can find better-sounding headphones at half of the price.
Regardless, I love the concept of a medical hearing test to personalize the sound for your ears. I only wish the execution would have been better. If you’d like to give it a try yourself then you can pick up a pair at Audeara’s site by using the link below.