While plenty of headphones offer surround sound, they don’t really emulate 3D space around you. For example, as soon as you move your head, the sound moves with you, instead of staying relative as it would in an actual space.
The Ossic X claim to be the world’s first true 3D headphones, capable of recreating sound the same way you hear it in the real world. If the reaction to the Kickstarter campaign is any indication, plenty of people are very excited about what this could mean for the future of audio.
Ossic says that 3D sound isn’t as simple as using a multi-driver array — like the eight drivers used in the Ossic X — you need to take relative space and even the shape of the listener’s ears into account. The Ossic X automatically calibrate themselves to your head and torso as soon as you put them on, enabling more accurate sound placement.
The real difference comes when you move your head. Instead of the sound moving with you, as with most headphones, the sound stays put — turn your head to hear something behind you, and suddenly it’s coming from in front of your face, at least as far as your ears are concerned.
This positional sound makes the Ossic X a great fit for a few key areas. This can make for an excellent music experience, as if you’re sitting in the middle while the band plays around you, but can also make the headphones a drop-in replacement for a home theater system (though maybe not a 3D one) when you’re watching a movie. Ossic also says this positional audio is a huge step forward for gamers looking for that perfect headset, especially when hearing when someone is behind you or to your side is the (virtual) difference between life and death.
If that sounds exciting to you, you’re not alone. Ossic launched the Kickstarter for the Ossic X last February, and met its $100,000 funding goal in just over two hours. Over the course of the campaign, Ossic raised more than $2.7 million. Combined with the project’s success on Indiegogo, fans contributed more than $3 million to the cause.
Since then, the Ossic team has added some noteworthy names to its roster, including Dr. Kaushik Sunder — previously of NASA — and industry thought leader Sally Kellaway, who now serves as Creative Director.
Ossic plans to begin shipping mass production units in October; the headphones will retail for $500. By funding the Kickstarter though, backers were promised a much lower price. Depending on level of investment, pairs were available for between $200 and $280 during the funding process. If you wanted to throw down $1,000, the Exclusive Innovator/Developer package offered an early, hand-built Ossic X development kit with beta software last year; those who opted for that tier will receive their dev units in August.
Meanwhile, if the Ossic X sound like something you want to be a part of, you can pre-order a pair through Indiegogo right now to get the X for $299. Ossic says that pairs ordered this way will arrive around January of next year.