These crazy headphones let you record immersive 3D soundscapes anywhere

With the growth of virtual reality video and the rise of object-based Dolby Atmos audio in theaters and at home, there is an ever-increasing interest in the ability to capture and reproduce audio in three dimensions. That is where products like Scenes Lifelike 3D headphones come in. Using microphones implanted into a pair of in-ear headphones, Lifelike 3D is designed to capture immersive three-dimensional audio straight to your iPhone.

Lifelike 3D is billed by the manufacturer as the “world’s first 3D audio recording headset,” and the product is currently raising money via an Indiegogo campaign. The headphones work differently than traditional recording setups, recording sound from the human listening position outside each ear in an effort to recreate how we perceive sound, called binaural recording.

The Lifelike headphones feature an omnidirectional microphone embedded in each earbud, each one capturing a 180-degree hemisphere of sound which combine to form a full 360-degree audio image. When listened through stereo headphones the audio is exceptionally immersive, with each element giving the perception of filling a unique space within a vast soundstage. If the video examples embedded on Lifelike’s crowdfund page are any indication, these headphones could be an astonishing (and relatively affordable) new way to create immersive reproductions of the world around you with nothing more than your earbuds and phone.

Regardless of the company’s claims about being first in the field, Scenes is not the only brand with a stake in this emerging technology. We have previously covered the wireless Hooke Verse, which hit the market in May of this year, and the audio gurus at Sennheiser have also developed a pair of very similarly designed headphones for the brand’s Ambeo 3D audio system — a prototype of which we first got to check out at CES 2017. The Ambeo Smart Headset was expected to launch this summer, but we’re still waiting for news about just when exactly the headphones will hit the open market and what they will cost.

While Senneheiser’s Ambeo headphones have a slightly futuristic design and Hooke’s are essentially larger banded wireless in-ears, Scenes’ Lifelike headphones are styled more like traditional earbuds. The built-in microphones on each side mean they have a larger outer shell than most in-ears, but they retain a classic black-and-gray aesthetic that should keep people from turning heads every time they see you walking down the street.

The Lifelike headphones are currently only designed to be compatible with iPhone and iPad devices, though the company is offering a USB-based PC audio adapter for those who are interested in using them for home recordings. For those who love recording video on the go, or those looking for a more affordable and portable solution than an expensive 3D microphone or microphone array, products like the Lifelike 3D headphones could present an exciting opportunity to leap into the world of immersive audio.

Lifelike’s Indiegogo campaign lasts until the end of September, at which point the headphones are slated to hit production for a predicted December release. As always, we recommend using caution when contributing to any crowdfunding campaign, as there’s never a guarantee the product will make it to market. If you’re willing to make the plunge, however, early birds can order a pair of the headphones for $80, a PC adapter for $30, and even an interesting ear-like stand for recording sound without wearing the headphones for $150.

Once out of the crowdfunding woods, Lifelike 3D is expected to retail for $150 per pair.

Update: We’ve updated copy to reflect the fact that we have previously covered the Hooke Verse.

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