Drop your cynical protective shields and listen up. MyEars 3D Audio is not the 'virtual surround sound' you think you already know. Where other products use generic Head-related Transfer Functions (HRTFs) to filter the sound, MyEars lets you build a custom HRTF to suit your ears and the headphones of your choice. Suddenly you're getting near-perfect 7.1 channel surround out of your 2 channel headphones. Right now MyEars is just $USD19.95. What better holiday gift to yourself than customised headphone listening profiles to enjoy the future of headphone gaming?
MyEars is a product of Personal Audio Pty Ltd, an Australian company from a team formerly associated with an acoustics research lab at the University of Sydney.
Once you're signed up, you enter the web service that lets you build a profile through a series of audio tests that effectively place each speaker in the surround sound setup around your head in virtual space. The process takes about 15-20 minutes, or longer if you choose to really work hard to keep tweaking to perfection (though you may find it easier to build, test in a game, then come back for more tweaking later on).
This profile is a specific match to your ears and your headphones, and you can build multiple profiles to match different sets of headphones. The purchase price gives you 12 months of access to the web service, so you can keep coming back to tweak current profiles or build new ones, and you can access these profiles from anywhere online and download to the local PC you're about to play on. MyEars are also constantly tweaking the fidelity of the service, so ongoing access to their web service should deliver ongoing improvements to the quality of your custom audio profiles.
Once downloaded, the profile can live on that PC beyond the 12 month access period. The downloaded package installs your custom profile as well as a MyEars-Connect package that acts as a kind of audio driver, sitting between the game output and the 2 channel output to your headphones.
I'm sure many gamers may have already tried standard virtual surround profiles like those from Dolby that are packaged with some sets of USB headphones. But a standard virtual surround sound system is running on the assumption of a generic HRTF, delivering an experience that is aimed at the average set of ears. And there just aren't that many people with a perfectly average head. That's why these systems give the impression of surround sound, but aren't any kind of replacement for a real surround sound system. Only a handful of users will ever actually find a generic HRTF will deliver something akin to true 5.1 or 7.1 surround.
The reality of a custom MyEars 3D Audio profile is astounding. Surround sound audio is placed extremely well, and you can always go back and retrain the profile to tweak its precision. The one area of 'imperfection' (and I use quotes for a reason) is directly behind your head. There's an audible phase shift as a sound source shifts behind you from left to right rear. But for gamers, that can actually be a good thing! There is a sense of precision that helps you know whether to turn left or right to deal with an enemy coming in from behind you.
The one drawback with MyEars at launch earlier this year was the price, around three times the price being offered today.
Now they've adjusted the price to $29.95, a compelling offer, and an even more compelling end of year special at just $19.95.
I'll absolutely recommend giving MyEars a shot at that price. I'm guessing a lot of PC gamers are going to love it once they've given it a solid once over. The others? Well, there's a 14 day trial offer, so there's absolutely nothing to lose.