Let’s cut to the chase (sorry): Sonic Lamb are the world’s first headphones that allow users to feel music (through mechanoreceptors in their skin and bone) as well as hear it (through their ears).
The promisse? A “true eargasm with a wireless headset that combines air conduction and body conduction to revolutionize the personal audio experience.” Audacious.
The concept is that humans don’t just hear through their ears; we also feel sound through our body. Human hearing is tuned to higher frequencies – a branch breaking in the forest, a baby crying – and is much less sensitive to low (bass) frequencies. Thus, we tend to feel sub-bass and bass frequencies more than we hear them. (Think thunder, rumblings in movie theaters, when crowds of people start stamping their feet en masse, etc.)
To efficiently reproduce this audio experience, speaker and home theater manufacturers use multiple audio drivers dedicated to each audio spectrum, as well as 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 technology that can emulate a subwoofer system.
Enter Sonic Lamb, a company that believes the last decade has seen the audio industry really deviate from the core value of improving that audio experience. And the New York startup wants to change that.
Navajith Karkera and Jagath Biddappa, a pair of mechanical and electronic engineers, created the concept while experimenting with hearing implants. The story goes that they improvised a method of transmitting audio without relying solely on the ear – and it’s certainly an interesting approach.
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To explain the technology, it incorporates a full-range audio driver to reproduce mid and high frequencies, which are transferred to the listener’s ear as sound waves (i.e., traditionally, through the air), plus a proprietary driver that – and this is the innovative bit – it converts the audio signal into corresponding mechanical impulses, thus transforming the ear pads into a virtual diaphragm.
This mechanical impulse is transferred from the headphones to the listeners’ skin and bones, and lo! are you really feeling the music – the kind that could only be experienced live, on multi-driver speakers, or in movie theaters and (very good) home theaters… until now, apparently.
Do you think they are likely to 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 unique control interface right on the headset that offers four customization modes including ‘Listen’, ‘Feel’, ‘Immerse’ and, alarmingly, ‘Beast’ for users .
You’re also getting two built-in microphones, one dedicated to capturing voice only and the other to suppressing ambient noise for calls and meetings. In addition, the headphones also feature an additional detachable boom, to further improve voice quality during important meetings and gaming sessions.
I’m more interested in noting that Sonic Lamb’s USB cable can be used not only for charging, but also for high-res wired audio up to 24-bit/96kHz, and a quick two-minute listening test using the smartphone app. Sonic Lamb’s allows users to create a custom sound profile based on their unique individual hearing sensitivity.
Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX HD and aptX Low Latency means multi-device connection capabilities allow users to connect the headset to two different devices simultaneously, in Bluetooth only and in Bluetooth and USB mode.
How can you protect your set? The Sonic Lamb headphones will be available on Indiegogo from July 19, 2022 to August 30, 2022, with super early pricing starting at $199 / £158 (about AU$279). Delivery is scheduled for November 2022 and is guaranteed before Christmas.
While I reserve judgment on their effectiveness and sound quality, I think I speak on behalf of the entire team when I say I’m intrigued – and will report back as soon as I have the pleasure of putting them to my ears…