Hearing is Believing

Audiophiles are already well aware of how much technology has improved the quality of sound that we can get from today’s many different forms of audio devices, but lately it seems like companies are kicking it up a notch. Today’s audio devices not only make things sound better, but they also improve how we hear and even how we interact with the world.

On-ear: A Touch of Class

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The BeoPlay H8 ($499) wireless headphones from B&O PLAY by Bang & Olufsen are as much about style as sound. The headband is high-quality cow leather, the lambskin earpads provide superior comfort and the anodized aluminum completes the premium look while also serving as a surface on which finger gestures can be used to control the headphones. They also weigh only 255 grams and have 14 hours of battery life—and they don’t skimp on sound thanks to Bluetooth 4.0 with aptX codec and Active Noise Cancellation.

Portable: Music to Dare Seekers’ Ears

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The UE Roll ($99) is a portable Bluetooth speaker that comes in a waterproof, life-resistant shell. In other words: Dunk it, drop it and toss it without fear. Basically, you can play music anywhere without fretting about destroying your device, including while rock climbing, kayaking, zip lining—it is even stain and dirt resistant so feel free to start a mud fight. The speaker has a 65-foot wireless range and comes equipped with a marine-grade bungee cord that is attachable to most gear.

In-ear: Remote Control For Your Ears

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Yes, Doppler Labs’ Here Active Listening System ($249 in December 2015) may resemble simple earbuds, but they are not meant for listening to music—they control how you hear the world around you. Through the wireless in-ear buds and a smartphone app you essentially have a volume knob for the world. Don’t won’t to listen to a crying baby on an airplane? Turn it off. Hate the sound of traffic? No problem. You can also enhance live music performances, add sound effects to your friend’s voice, or use stylized filters to add a soundtrack to your life.

Speaker: New Personal Assistant

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Yes, the Amazon Echo ($180) has dual downward-firing speakers that can fill any room with immersive sound, but it is also so much more. The Echo connects to Alexa, a cloud-based voice service, that can always hear you—even over loud music—as it has seven microphones with enhanced noise cancellation. You can ask Echo whatever you want including: What’s on my calendar today? What’s the traffic like today? What’s the score of the Yankees game? You can also order items from Amazon, play music, listen to audiobooks, set alarms and more—all with a simple voice command.

Tailored Audio: Personalized Hearing

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Everybody hears differently, yet audio equipment can’t adjust to your individual hearing needs—until now. The Aumeo is a pocket-sized device that connects to your music player and allows you to create a personal audio profile based on your hearing sensitivity to different sounds. Not only does this allow you to pick up sounds you otherwise wouldn’t, it also prevents hearing damage because it limits the need to pump up the volume to dangerous levels. The Aumeo is available for $99 for backers on Indiegogo.

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