One of the most exciting Kickstarter campaigns in recent memory, the OSSIC X headphones, are stirring up huge amounts of buzz in the audiophile world (as well as their fair share of skepticism). Offering what is being referred to as "3D Audio", the OSSIC X claim to offer a truly immersive sound experience unrivaled by current headphones, and on par with the best stereo speaker systems, but is what they're offering actually new technology, or just fancy marketing jargon for something that isn't so fancy? Learn more below, give them a listen (in February 2017), and you be the judge!
Imagine you’re sitting in a dark room. You put on a pair of headphones and play your favorite song. Now imagine every instrument and voice in that song entering your ear at a different point, creating a soundstage unlike anything you have heard before outside of a live music venue. Now try turning and shifting your head and notice as the music shifts and follows your every motion, creating a sensation of immersion that you have never before experienced.
All of this sounds pretty cool, right? Perhaps too good to be true, even?
Well, say hello to the OSSIC X headphones, the first 3D audio effect headphones available for the masses, getting ready to enter the market in the coming year (thanks to a massive influx of cash from Kickstarter pledges)!
The OSSIC X's are an over-ear, closed-back headphone, created by the OSSIC team, and partnering with Abbey Road Red, THX Limited, and others, with one goal in mind-- to produce audio that's indistinguishable from reality.
Combining head-related transfer function (HRTF) anatomy calibration, integrated head tracking, and a multi-driver array, the OSSIC X are bringing what was once a very expensive technology, that could only be produced in a lab setting, to the consumer for an affordable price!
They appear to be built to last:
And they come with a slew of additional components and features, including: individual anatomy calibration, integrated head tracking, multi-driver array for accurate sound placement, boomless 3D microphone array, basic application software for PC/Mac, USB and AUX connection, and 10 hour battery life.
While the OSSIC X cannot claim to be the most-funded Kickstarter ever (that title is currently held by the Pebble Time smartwatch (which raised an eye-popping $20.3M in 2015)), nor can it refer to itself as the most-funded pair of headphones in Kickstarter history (that distinction belongs presently to The Dash wireless smart in-ear headphone by BRAGI LLC., which raised $3.39M in 2014); however, the OSSIC X can claim to be the most-funded pair of headphones for 2016, so far, raising a whopping $2,708,472, pledged by 10,263 backers during the time period from Feb 23 2016 - Apr 21 2016 (58 days)!
Backers of OSSIC X headphones received some very cool gear and discounts for helping contribute to the financial success of the campaign, including: OSSIC-branded Google Cardboard ($25 pledge), an early, hand-built, OSSIC X development kit headphone with beta software ($999 pledge), and early bird pricing on one of the first OSSIC X production models ($199 pledge).
Sure, all of this sounds great so far, but what exactly is 3D audio, and why is it any better than current headphone technologies?
By definition, 3D audio is "a group of sound effects that manipulate the sound produced by stereo speakers, surround-sound speakers, speaker-arrays, or headphones. This frequently involves the virtual placement of sound sources anywhere in three-dimensional space, including behind, above or below the listener. 3D audio (processing) is the spatial domain convolution of sound waves using Head-related transfer functions. It is the phenomenon of transforming sound waves (using Head-related transfer function or HRTF filters and cross talk cancellation techniques) to mimic natural sounds waves, which emanate from a point in a 3D space. It allows trickery of the brain using the ears and auditory nerves, pretending to place different sounds in different 3D locations upon hearing the sounds, even though the sounds may just be produced from just 2 speakers." (Source)
This "trickery" is where the OSSIC X's really shine, as it is very easy to place different sounds in different locations when you have EIGHT distinct drivers to create sound (by comparison, the overwhelming majority of headphones only offer two drivers, with even the most expensive pairs usually limiting themselves to six drivers or fewer). As it stands, other headphone manufacturers cannot compete with the level of spaciousness that the OSSIC X will offer.
For a more in depth analysis on how the OSSIC X work scientifically, check out this fascinating video! (Opens in a new tab)
Whether or not the OSSIC X is going to be the future of audio remains to be seen, but regardless, we here at Headphone Charts are incredibly excited anytime a new technology is created, and are very much looking forward to getting our hands on a pair in the coming months. Their current $299 pre-order pricetag ($100 off their $399 MSRP) appears to be a great value, considering they are packing a whopping eight driver system and proprietary new technologies, for around the same price as a pair of Ultrasone PRO 900s.
With their 3D audio technology, the sky is the limit for the OSSIC X's future utility, with concert hall-quality music with unmatched soundstage being just the beginning. As the technology continues to evolve, you better believe that the OSSIC X is going to offer an INSANE listening experience for anyone wanting to fully immerse themselves in Blu-ray movie audio or in virtual reality simulations. The possibilities are endless, and we look forward to their launch with great eagerness!