Despite their convenience, on-ear headphones pose a problem. While the best of them do a fantastic job passively or actively drowning out the noise of outside world — i.e. screaming children, the blaring whistle of a passing train — they often mute the entirety of what’s going on around you. ONvocal’s Mix360 is looking to alleviate said woes, though, allowing you to adjust the levels of ambient noise at your leisure.
Showcased at CES 2015 Unveiled, the intuitive device allows you to mix music, ambient noise, and your own voice in equal measure. The sound-isolating headphones rest on the back of your neck and feature a pair of foam tips that come in an array of sizes.
Although the earbuds do a decent job blocking outside noises on their own, their promise shines once you pair the device with the accompanying mobile app for Android and iOS devices. Doing so brings up a basic display panel showcasing three different sliders (source, ambient, and voice) each of which controls a different aspect of the sound mix you’re hearing.
The Mix360 headphones utilize two outward-facing microphones for situational awareness, meaning even when you’re blasting the latest T. Swift jams, you can still channel the sound outside to great effect. Sure, it comes off as a bit gimmicky at first, but the patented technology works far better than you might believe. Turning up the ambient slider, for instance, allows you to create a 3D soundscape that essentially does away the headphones’ noise-isolation.
Likewise, adjusting the voice slider allows you to alter the way you hear your own vocals, much akin to the way musicians utilize monitors when singing. The flexible headphones also feature a set of inline controls on the right earbud for accepting or ending calls, along with the ability to respond to various voice commands via Siri and Google Now. The sound didn’t blow us away, but it should more than suffice on your traffic-laden commute to work. After all, head-on collisions are never fun.
The ONvocal Mix360 is launches in May 2015, with ongoing preorders set at $300 and an initial retail price of $350.