After ANC, what will be the next audio innovation for wireless headphones and earphones? | NextPit
After ANC, ambient awareness to break through to non-purists?
Imagine that you have read all of Tolkien’s works. From The Silmarillion to The Children of Húrin to Beren and Lúthien and The Unfinished Tales and Legends. You probably gritted your teeth while watching the first two episodes of the Rings of Power series on Amazon Prime over the weekend. Maybe you even grumbled at Peter Jackson’s trilogy (wrongly, but I’m not judging you).
But these movies, like this new series, will most certainly be a gateway for many new fans to the, let’s face it, ultimately not very accessible Tolkien universe. Well, it’s the same for audiophilia. We don’t all have the time nor the desire to go through fifteen comparisons to buy the right DAC, the right DAP, the right earphones, or the right headphones.
“Sennheiser still has at its heart the audio quality for which we are known all over the world. We make our own transducers, and it’s this mastery and precision that sets us apart. And since no one should be walking around with HD600s in the subway, we’re using this technology in more accessible products like the Momentum 4, for example,” says Christian Ern.
And this democratization, it also has to pass through the valley of innovation. We saw it with the ANC, otherwise known as active noise cancellation. A feature can become so popular that users make it a decisive purchasing criterion, even if it means creating a new category of products in its own right. Except that creating products that are too situational would be counterproductive, as Christian Ern rightfully pointed out to me.
“We’re not going to make a product for every type of situation. That’s why, for example, more and more headphones and earbuds are offering a transparency mode in addition to ANC.” The idea is to do everything so that you don’t have to take your headphones or earbuds out of your ears.
Going on the subway and want to block out the crowd noise? You turn on ANC. But when you get off the train and walk down the street? You activate the transparency mode to hear the cars coming and not get run over. The famous transparency mode, this “ambient awareness” is not new, we have been talking about it for a few years.
At the end of the day, it is about to become THE next innovation vector on the audio market. In my Jabra Elite 5 review, for example, I was raving about the ability to adjust the level of ANC or transparency on each earpiece separately. I think manufacturers will continue to exploit this.
“Well, we are still far from this versatility for audiophile products. A smartphone can’t even properly power them now.
However, this transparent fashion stuff, which makes us forget about the headphones and earbuds we have on our ears, makes me think that a future where audio wearables become a true intuitive and fluid multi-device interface is not so far away.