Crowd-developing headphones here pt.1
Jul 5, 2019 at 10:28 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 1


Member of the Trade: Eve Tech
Jun 25, 2019
Hi folks!

This is my first big post here @Head-Fi I've been a long time lurker and learned a lot about audio here.

Why am I making this?
There is a lot of ambiguity in Audio market. I think a pair of ANC cans doesn't have to cost arm and a leg I am making this post as we are a small team in Helsinki crowd-developing a pair of noise canceling headphones and I want to have folks of head-fi to pitch in to help make right compromises. While our team is small we are developing the product with GrandSun a top tier audio ODM that produces and develops for Audeze as well as other top-notch brands. My purpose is not to be a shill but make sure that product is good as well as to send out some prototypes for review along the way. We have one btw already (very raw)


Super short about my background:

Our team has previously crowd-developed a 2-in-1 laptop together with folks passionate about laptops. You can read more about it here for example. Now we are taking on the next project based on our community and folks from r/headphones subreddit feedback.

Why pair of noise canceling cans?

We've run a big survey on r/headphones and our community and realized that there is quite a lot of potential to provide better value in over-ear noise canceling headphones. Also this makes a lot of sense as environments around us are getting louder and in many cases we need to ramp up volume to hearing damage levels to achieve needed bass performance (it's a separate topic but frequencies below 400HZ require a substantially higher sound level to sound equally loud to frequencies above 400HZ)



Anyways the key point is that we can achieve better audio quality in louder environments by making sure that environment Low frequencies don't mess with our music. The chart above shows what we can hear and at what sound levels as well as when the external environment intercepts with our listening experience.

Our approach:

Our work is very much inspired by work of Toole in terms of approaching audio from more scientific angle rather than what certain product feels like. I strongly recommend anyone interesting in audio to read the book. It's a gem that BUSTS so many marketing Myths

We also very much believe that everyone in 2019 deserves to experience good audio that doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

What's missing in ANC headphones today?

So something like this is missing in the market. Currently, you have headphones that either provide great comfort and user experience (meaning features) or when you get headphones that sound great for their purpose but lack needed features or comfort. Also, you have a cheap zone which is generally compromised especially in terms of design and feel.

So what we've got so far?

We have so far asked a ton of questions and ended up with this:

I know audio is not really about specs but rather real-life performance. So here is what we are doing now to achieve better product than what's available out there:

1. We will use latest Qualcomm QCC5124 chipset for bluetooth 5.0 low power performance and reliability. Generally, QCC5124 has 3x baterry life of its predecessor with Bluetooth 4.2
2. We will use a dedicated DSP from Sony CXD3782. Same DSP as is used in WH1000MX3. The goal here is to have dedicated chip to handle noice canceling alone versus having everything on QCC5124 (this is where many products fail in our view by saving 2-3 USD in BOM)
3. We will use a dedicated amp from ADI to make sure that headphones are loud enough and can give a fuller sound.
4. We will implement Cross Feed that will be adjustable with an APP as well as EQ controls. After all there is nothing wrong with adding up more base when listening to music on an average volume.
5. We will use GrandSun's ironless driver which when we tried in real life produces super clear audio comparing to normal dynamic. It allows to achieve THD < 0,01% and most importantly it just sounds noticebly clearer in real life without sacrifising any of the timbre and adding any extra coloration to the track

I will do my best to explain the difference below:

Grandsun, our manufacturer, has been developing it for past 7 years and I have to say that all their research paid off! As mentioned, the beautiful thing about this driver is that it allows to reproduce music more clearly and with **noticeably less distortion** (THD) especially at louder music levels then with normal dynamic driver. So how does it differ from normal driver?

Normal Dynamic Driver


Driver we will use (the manufacturer calls it ironless but we need to come up with a better name


The main difference between two drivers is how the magnetic current moves. In a normal dynamic driver magnet and voice coil have their own magnetic fields that FIGHT with each other causing extra vibration in diaphragm resulting in higher harmonic distortion. Iron-free driver from GrandSun on the other has 20 strong magnets that align magnetic forces with the voice coil magnetic filed and produce a much cleaner sound. Essentially there is no contact of the normal metal frame part and the diaphragm due to the strong magnetic field.

If you want to read more on it here is a patent

Here is the real life pic of the driver itself:


Some of the other key features requested so far:


All of the discussion is coming from our community so far.

So now what's next?

I won't aks many questions in this post as it's pretty long already. The key question I have is:

Is it something you folks find interesting? How are the specs looking so far? What is missing?

If you want me to continue telling about the journey here then get ready to receive more questions and super happy to answer any production, etc related questions.


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