On first listen, the new headphones from EVEN are a pretty solid offering.
Only $99 a pair, they have a unique look and feature 10mm drivers, a sturdy, tangle-resistant nylon cord and asymmetrical black-and-white buds (one for left, one for right). As for the sound: when in normal mode, they’re on par with any good mid-priced set.
And if that were all they did, we’d be sold.
But press one button, and how you listen to music will change forever: the headphones become something like prescription glasses for your ears.
EVEN was co-founded by Danny Aronson, a classically trained composer who has worked for more than 20 years as a sound designer for radio and TV spots. “With stereos and headphones, the assumption is that everybody hears the same, and everybody has perfect hearing,” he says. “That’s just wrong. We even hear differently in our left and right ears.”
Over two years, Aronson and a team of sound engineers designed EVEN. What sets them apart: the “Get Even” button.
Located under the volume and play controls on the headphone cord, the Get Even button is a one-touch switch between a normal headphone experience and one that’s tailored to your specific hearing patterns.
To use the first time: Press the button. Finish a simple, 90-second hearing test for each ear, which tests eight different frequencies. From there, the EVEN buds develop your “Ear Print” (or audiogram) and adjust playback accordingly.
“The algorithms compensate for your particular way of hearing,” says Aronson. “It’s more elaborate than just ‘highs’ and ‘lows.’ And if your hearing changes, you can do it again. These headphones actually grow with you.”
Testing between our everyday iPhone buds and EVEN, we noticed a rather sharp difference between the two sets. The EVEN headphones, once adjusted for our particular “Ear Print,” offered greater contrast and new or heretofore missed instrumental emphasis in songs ... and enough volume difference that we actually turned things down.
“After you get the experience, you do tend to turn down the volume,” says Aronson. “Other headphones, you’re turning it up to hear things your ears are missing. A more balanced sound means people are taking it down 25-30%.”
What’s heartening about the EVEN headphones is their use case outside of day-to-day listeners. “People with deteriorating hearing stop listening to music,” says Aronson. “One tester we had, she had been in a car accident and it affected the way she hears. These headphones were the first to help her hear some frequencies she thought she had lost.”
Launched this week, the startup has product available immediately — no crowdfunding rigamarole necessary.
Sounds good to us.