This story is part of our continuing coverage of CES 2020, including tech and gadgets from the showroom floor.
Headphone maker 1More and Sonarworks, an audio technology company, have joined forces at CES 2020 to give you an option you may not have experienced before: The ability to tailor the way your music sounds based on your headphones, your age, your sex, and your personal taste.
This concept isn’t new — you can download and try the Sonarworks True-fi or SoundID apps for your phone right now. If your headphones are among the supported models, you can use these apps to modify the way sound is processed, hopefully leading to a better quality of audio than you could get through your headphones alone. But because the system is app-based, it’s awkward to use and may not work with all of your favorite music sources.
Later this year, Sonarworks’ SoundID technology will be embedded into 1More’s Music app. At the same time, 1More will release a new set of Bluetooth headphones that are designed to accept these SoundID settings within their firmware. Once you create a SoundID profile within the 1More Music app and upload those settings to your 1More headphones, you can shut down the 1More app and enjoy the SoundID sonic alterations from any music source.
Sonarworks claims that its audio personalization technology — which uses machine learning algorithms that were trained with what it claims is the “biggest ever research into sound preferences” — makes a significant difference to the sound you hear. “Over 78% of listeners prefer SoundID-enabled audio delivery over the factory default settings of any single headphone model,” according to the companies’ joint press release.
If that claim is accurate, 1More’s partnership with Sonarworks could be an important point of differentiation for its new headphones when they go on sale. But I’m going to start from a position of skepticism. I recently downloaded the Sonarworks SoundID app on my iPhone 11 and used it to personalize the audio for my Beats Solo 3 Wireless headphones, which happen to be among the models that SoundID currently supports. I wasn’t especially impressed by the results.
After going through the customization calibration process which involves providing your age and sex — two parameters that Sonarworks says can affect the way you hear sound — and then listening to a series of sound adjustments to determine what kind of sound I like, in my case, I ended up with virtually no change to the way the Beats sounded. There could be good reasons for this, I suppose. Maybe I simply prefer completely flat EQ to the options that SoundID offered me, or maybe my Beats cans are already very well suited to my sonic tastes.
Regardless, the point is this: In order for you to value the integration of Sonarworks SoundID into 1More’s headphones, you’ll need to be among the 78% who think their music sounds better after calibrating the headphones with SoundID.
We’re big fans of 1More’s products — the brand has consistently impressed us with its headphones and true-wireless earbuds as being exceptional values. We’re eager to put their new SoundID-enabled headphones to the test and we’ll let you know what we think as soon as we get the chance.
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