Whether in a loud restaurant, on a plane with background noise or simply walking around the city, most of us don’t want to hear every single sound that passes our ears. With Here One from Doppler Labs, we now have the ability to control what we hear. These wireless earbuds offer a range of listening and filtering options to control how you hear the environment around you. Perhaps the most interesting feature is the ability to do all three at once—a feature the company calls “layered listening,” allowing you to layer in music, phone calls and conversations to either block the rest out or let some (or all) of it in.
With the companion app (for iOS and Android) users can customize what they hear from the world around them, or, to make it easier, select from a menu of preset filters. There are settings for tuning out background noises on airplanes, in restaurants or at the office, for your bus or train commute, and settings that take advantage of the various directional mics. Imagine someone 20 feet across a crowded room speaking at a normal volume and simply looking directly at them tunes in the sound of their voice. Want to just hear whatever is going on behind you? There’s a setting for that, too.
Layered listening is an interesting feature that allows you to mix streaming music with the sounds around you to provide a soundtrack for your experience. You can adjust the volumes of each source until you find the right mix. There’s also a live mixer that operates like an equalizer for the sound you’re hearing around you. At the most basic level, you can just turn the volume of the world around you up or down as needed without removing your earphones.
Battery time on the Here One buds is limited to around two hours, sometimes less, but fortunately there’s additional battery capacity in the earbuds’ case and they start charging automatically once inserted. The case provides around 3 full recharges, and it takes around an hour or so for each charge. Sound quality, as you’d hope, is fantastic. We did find that people on the other end of our phone calls sometimes had a hard time hearing us, though.
The Here Ones weren’t created to replace your current headphones or earphones—they’re really an additional pair for situations where you want the flexibility to really block things out (they work beautifully on airplanes, tuning out screaming children and engine noise) or allow things in, like hearing your co-workers, boss or kids while you’re also enjoying your favorite podcast. They are also great in noisy restaurants, when you want to hear what your friends are saying but tune out that noisy table of eight next to you.
As travelers, we see the killer application for computers in your ears to be real-time language translation. Doppler is working on that, too, but it’s not ready just yet. Here One is available for $300 in black or white.
Images by Josh Rubin