If you’re a metalhead, chances are you like your music loud – but what if you want to rock out without damaging your precious ears?
Enter Heavys, a team of “metalheads, engineers, and sound freaks” that claims to have created the world’s first heavy metal headphones, which will protect your eardrums while letting you listen to your favorite tracks as the artist intended. The team includes veteran engineer Axel Grell, who designed some of Sennheiser’s best-loved headphones.
Currently in development via a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, the Heavys headphones come with no less than eight drivers designed to mimic a full-sized home speaker: where headphones usually contain one driver inside each earcup, the Heavys headphones have four, with two tweeters and two subwoofers on each side.
This allows each driver to focus on a specific frequency range, without the need for one driver to accommodate highs, lows, and mids all at once. According to Heavys, this reduces distortion and lets you hear every detail of your music clearly.
While some of the best headphones we’ve tested make use of just two drivers, and sound fantastic while doing so, we can see how the use of separate drivers for each frequency range could be useful for metal in particular, which often involves complex, heavily layered compositions and intricate instrumentation.
The Heavys over-ear headphones are also designed to make it feel as though the sound is coming from right in front of you, rather than being blasted into each ear canal. Tweeters are placed immediately in front of the ear, with sound waves coming from different directions to simulate a natural front-oriented sound field – as if you’re watching your favorite band from the crowd.
Whether this appeals to you depends largely on what you want from your music. If you’re looking for a natural audio experience, a front-oriented soundstage will probably work very well.
However, the rise of spatial audio technologies has meant more of us have been able to experience three-dimensional sound from a pair of headphones, which makes it feel as though you’re in the center of a band, with each instrumental coming at you from a different angle – and that can make for a more immersive listening experience that some will prefer to traditional stereo sound.
The Heavys also come with all the mod-cons you’d expect, including active noise cancellation, wireless and wired connectivity, and a whopping 50-hour battery life.
Heavys also claims that its headphones will allow you to listen at louder volumes without damaging your hearing.
Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is a big problem; the World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that up to a billion young people are at risk of NIHL, with nearly 50% of teenagers and young adults in particular being exposed to unsafe levels of sound from personal audio devices.
Heavys’ patented pyschoacoustic technology broadcasts specific frequencies at different volumes that will apparently make you feel as though your music is louder without causing high pressure levels in your ears.
According to research from the Keck School of Medicine of USC, hearing loss occurs as a result of two things: the death of sensory hair cells that detect sound and convert it to neural signals, and a build-up of fluid pressure in the inner ear, which causes neurons to die.
As John Oghalai, MD, chair and professor of the USC Tina and Rick Caruso Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery explains, “the death of sensory hair cells leads to hearing loss, but even if some sensory hair cells remain and still work, if they’re not connected to a neuron, then the brain won’t hear the sound”.
If the Heavys headphones really can mitigate these problems without making you feel as though your music is unduly quiet, they could be great for metalheads who want to turn it up to 11.
Combining this technology with the Heavys headphones’ unusual driver array, long battery life, active noise cancellation, and wireless connectivity makes for a very attractive proposition indeed. Especially as the headphones are priced at $149 (about £110 / AU$200) as part of a limited early-bird promotion.
However, we’d always recommend exercising caution when it comes to investing in crowdfunding campaigns. There’s no guarantee that the product will actually come to market, even if it reaches its fundraising goal – so think carefully before parting with your hard-earned cash.