First look: Lytte Harmoniq 3D-printed true wireless earbuds

Here’s a question I’d never thought to ask before: Can the way a set of true wireless earbuds are manufactured affect how they perform, or how they fit?

After all, one assumes that all of the other variables — the internal electronics, the drivers that emit the sound, the wireless chips — must play a role. So too would the ergonomics of an earbud’s shape — which is why some models simply fit better than others.

Harmoniq Labs believes that the manufacturing technique — specifically 3D printing — can have a profound effect on audio quality and comfort, and its proof of concept is the Lytte (pronounced “lit”) Harmoniq, a set of true wireless earbuds the company is crowdfunding on Indiegogo.

Lytte Harmoniq 3D-printed earbuds
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Unusual build

The intricately shaped, gloss-black earbuds don’t impress when you examine their specifications on paper — five hours of battery life, IPX4 water protection, voice assistant access, Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX support — these are what we’ve come to expect from even the cheapest true wireless earbuds.

And then there’s what they don’t have: No wireless charging, no wear sensor, no active noise cancellation, no multidevice pairing, and no ambient sound mode or sidetone for calls. Not exactly ticking all the boxes, as they say.

Look beyond the specs, however, and you’ll notice that unlike every other mass-manufactured earbud, the Lytte Harmoniq are forged from a single, uninterrupted resin shell. There are no seams, no buttons, and no sensor windows —  just a highly organic shape that the Harmoniq Labs claims is the result of analyzing thousands of ears, two charging contacts, and a tiny microphone hole.

It’s this unusual build — which takes 80 minutes of 3D printing followed by 30 minutes of hand polishing per pair of earbuds, according to Harmoniq — that delivers the two benefits the company is banking on impressing listeners with: Much better sound quality and a super-comfortable fit.

Harmoniq says the Lytte’s completely enclosed shell and the internal geometry allow sound to travel a “superior acoustic path” while keeping distortion-creating vibrations to a minimum. The company likens the approach to the shaping of a musical instrument like a French horn, in order to achieve a specific sound.

All of this, says Harmoniq’s Indiegogo page, is not just theory. Citing its own measurements against 16 different criteria like total harmonic distortion, noise isolation, and the left-right consistency of each earbud, Harmoniq says the Lytte equal or outperform much more expensive true wireless earbuds like the AirPods Pro, Bang and Olufsen E8, and Sennheiser Momentum.

Lytte Harmoniq 3D-printed earbuds
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

First impressions

Ordinarily, we’re reticent to cover crowdfunded products like the Lytte Harmoniq, because projects like this can be hit-or-miss when it comes to delivering actual products to backers. Harmoniq Labs is an unknown entity, apparently only coming into existence in 2020, and its “About the team” section of its crowdfunding page is worryingly devoid of any names or bios. The same is true for the company’s website.

We also couldn’t find a listing for the company with the FCC, and the Sunnyvale, California, address the company is using is simply a mailbox at a U.S. Postal Service building.

However, Harmoniq Labs sent Digital Trends a sample of the Lytte Harmoniq prior to the start of shipping to its backers, so we could see (and hear) for ourselves how well the company has delivered on its promises.

Our initial impression: So far, so good.

The Lytte Harmoniq are indeed very comfortable true wireless earbuds, and they produce a very rich sound that compares favorably to models that cost between $180 and $250.

But Harmoniq can’t count on success just yet. Given what these earbuds lack in terms of features, the company is going to have to price them very carefully. Comfort and sound quality are very important, no question, but they will only get you so far when the competition is offering both of those features and more.

The crowdfunding price of $109 feels about right. The company’s “regular” price of $229, on the other hand, is probably going to win it very few customers.

There are still a few days left on the Indiegogo campaign for those who want to back the Lytte Harmoniq, though it looks as though it has only just exceeded its fixed funding goal of $20,000.

If and when Harmoniq decides to sell these earbuds to a general audience via Amazon or another retailer, we’ll be back with a full review.

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