Let's get straight down to business (sorry): Sonic Lamb are the world’s first headphones that allow wearers to feel the music (through mechanoreceptors in their skin and bone) as well as hear it (through their ears).
The promise? A "true eargasm with a wireless headphone that combines air conduction and body conduction to revolutionise the personal audio experience". Bold.
The concept is that humans don't just hear through our ears; we also feel sound through our body. Human hearing is tuned to higher frequencies – a twig snapping in the woods, the cries of a baby – and is far less sensitive to low (bass) frequencies. Thus, we tend to feel sub-bass and bass frequencies more than we hear them. (Think thunder, rumbles in movie theaters, when a crowd of people start stomping their feet en masse, etc.)
To effectively reproduce such an audio experience, loudspeaker and home-theater manufacturers use multiple audio drivers dedicated for each audio spectrum, plus a subwoofer unit dedicated to low frequency audio – the kind we can feel in our body. But this experience is compromised in even the best headphones due to the general use of a single audio driver on each side of our head and the lack of specialized audio tech that can emulate a subwoofer system.
Enter, Sonic Lamb, a company that believes the past decade has seen the audio industry actually deviate from the core value of improving this audio experience. And the New York startup wants to change that.
Navajith Karkera and Jagath Biddappa, a duo of mechanical and electronic engineers, created the concept when experimenting on hearing implants. The story goes that they improvised a method of audio transmission without solely depending on the ear – and it's certainly an interesting approach.
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To explain the tech, it incorporates a full-range audio driver to reproduce mids and high frequencies, which is transferred to the listener’s ear as sound waves (ie. traditionally, through the air), plus a proprietary driver that – and this is the innovative bit – converts the audio signal into corresponding mechanical impulses, thus transforming the earpads of the headphones into a virtual diaphragm.
This mechanical impulse is transferred from the earpads to the listeners skin and bone and lo! You're actually feeling the music – the likes of which could only be experienced live in-person, on multi-driver loudspeakers, or in cinemas and (very good) home theaters… until now, apparently.
Think they'll probably be heavy? No, actually, 300g, which is just 46g more than the Sony WH-1000XM4. Playback time is between six and 24 hours, depending on how you're listening. Elsewhere, Sonic Lamb promises a one-of-a-kind control interface directly on the headphone which offers four modes of personalisation including 'Hear', 'Feel', 'Immerse' and, somewhat alarmingly, 'Beast' to users.
You're also getting two internal microphones, one dedicated to capture just the voice and the other to suppress ambient noise for calls and meetings. On top of that, the headphones also feature an additional, detachable boom, for further enhancement of voice quality during important meetings and gaming sessions.
I'm most interested to note that Sonic Lamb's USB cable can be used not just for charging, but also for high-resolution wired audio up to 24-bit/96kHz, and a quick two-minute hearing test using Sonic Lamb's smartphone app allows users to create a custom tuned sound profile based on their individual unique hearing sensitivity.
Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX HD and aptX Low Latency means multi-device connection capabilities enables users to connect the headphone to two different devices simultaneously both in Bluetooth only and Bluetooth and USB mode.
How can you secure your set? Sonic Lamb headphones will be available on Indiegogo from July 19 2022 until August 30 2022, with super early-bird pricing starting at $199/£158 (around AU$279). Delivery is expected in November 2022 and is guaranteed before Christmas.
Although I'll reserve judgement on their efficacy and sound quality, I think I speak on behalf of the entire TechRadar team when I say I'm intrigued – and will report back once I've had the pleasure of placing them over my ears…