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These Earbuds Are Designed To Sound Like A Full Home Theater System

Why is it that earbuds never seem to sound as good as a big speaker system? In general, it comes down to size: the bigger the speaker, the better it is at vibrating with rich, room-shaking sound. But there's a way to mimic that feeling in the compact size of an earbud, and 360 Audio earbuds are designed to do just that.

Size Matters

Loudspeakers and earbuds just sound different. Not only are speakers bigger — and with every extra millimeter of surface area, the easier it is to get high-quality sound — but they also have the benefit of ambient space. The sound waves that come out of speakers reverberate off of surfaces in the room, making for a more natural listening experience. That's especially important for bass. And of course, you can put them wherever you want, ensuring that sounds come from the right, left, front, and back the way the sound engineers intended.

But headphones and earbuds have their benefits, too. Because they're piping audio directly into your ears and often sealing out most other noise (that is, if they actually seal out noise), headphones lend a clarity of sound that speakers can't achieve in the average living room. Those same reflections and reverberations that make audio sound natural on speakers also reduce the accuracy of the sound — after all, your ears are just one variable the audio has to contend with; the couch, coffee table, and lounge chair are several.

To get the best of both worlds, earbuds would be able to recreate the big sound, clear bass, and precise direction of a full surround-sound speaker setup, but with the noise isolation and audio accuracy of a headphone. That's the idea behind 360 Audio earbuds.

Honey, I Shrunk The Surround Sound

How does something as small as an earbud recreate the natural reverberation of a room? 360 Audio does it with a special acoustic chamber that guides the sound waves through mechanical components that actually reflect them before they hit your eardrums. The front portion of this chamber contains a frequency divider designed to shape and filter the sound through five channels. The rear portion is a resonator back cavity that vibrates with the very lowest frequencies of the audio, putting a clear and reliable subwoofer directly in your year. Meanwhile, the middle layer reduces feedback from within the structure, so audio is reproduced more authentically.

"Maybe earbuds aren't supposed to be a high-frequency driver right next to your ear," legendary producer and engineer Chris Julian says in the 360 Audio Kickstarter video. "Maybe they're supposed to be an acoustic chamber which imitates a room, and then those high frequencies are not assaulting your eardrums. They're bathed in natural reflections, and a natural balance in established."

What's more, the earbuds' frequency range goes all the way from 8 Hz to 20 kHz, extending below the range of human hearing. But just because you can't hear something doesn't mean you don't know it's there. Those lowest frequencies, known as infrasonic sound, can be felt instead of heard, which enriches the listening experience. Best of all might be the 5.1 virtual surround sound, however. It achieves the same directional sensation you get from placing your home theater speakers just so — you hear the music and sound effects in video games, movies, and virtual-reality environments directly where they should be coming from.

If you want to see what bass-rich surround sound feels like in something small enough to fit in your pocket, buy a pair of 360 Audio earbuds from the Kickstarter campaign before it ends on October 29.

Subwoofers, Woofers, and Tweeters as Fast As Possible

Written by Curiosity Staff October 11, 2017

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