When I mentioned these headphones, one of my colleagues immediately quipped that it sounded like snake oil. And I can understand their reluctance, because it sounds too good to be true.
A set of 3D headphones so advanced that they instantly calibrate to your anatomy the second you put them on. It’s a Kickstarter project. It has almost two months to go, but it’s already surpassed its funding goal three times over.
They’re called OSSIC X, and according to their creators they’re a world first. “By pairing advanced 3D audio algorithms with head-tracking and individual anatomy calibration, we deliver incredibly accurate 3D sound to your ears,” the Kickstarter page proclaims.
The project promises better immersion and “drastically improved sound localisation”, although it doesn’t really go into specifics about how the calibration is achieved. It does mention that eight drivers within the headphones are used to “play back sound to the correct portion of your ear”, and that head tracking is employed to make sure “sounds will appear to come from outside your head”.
Where the real benefits start to kick in, however, is with virtual reality. As this GIF is trying to describe with some funky effects.
I wonder if this is what playing EVE: Valkyrie with touch controllers is like. This next marketing GIF kind of reminds of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive when they changed the sound. The bloke in the picture is actually playing Counter-Strike too: you can see the HUD icons and from what I can make out, it looks like the inside staging lobby for Terrorists (near the hut at top site).
The value of 3D sound isn’t quite as handy in Counter-Strike as it used to be, since CSGO doesn’t allow you to shoot people in the head through reinforced steel and inch-thick concrete the way you could in CS 1.6. But being able to identify footsteps clearly in shooters is pretty hand.
It also promises to offer the best possible sound for movies and music without shelling out on a full 5.1, surround sound setup. It sounds a little arcane to me, so here’s the OSSIC team putting forward their best pitch.
If you want to ensure you can get a pair of the headphones when they start shipping it’ll cost you US$220. Those who jump in now will get their pair around Christmas, whereas everyone else will have to pay US$250 and their headphones will arrive in January.
When the headphones are released they’ll be priced at approximately US$400, which sounds about right given the technology they’re promising. Whether it’s as awesome to use in practice, mind you, is another thing entirely. But if you’re interested, have a look at the Kickstarter campaign and decide for yourself.
All GIFs and images courtesy of OSSIC X