CanJam SoCal 2018 - Audeze Mobius 3D Headphones

This is a pretty cool headphone. Certainly seems like a forward thinking push towards smart headphones to me. I sure as heck didn't want my experience with them to be on a noisy trade show floor. Fortunately, Audeze is in Orange County not too far from CanJam in downtown L.A., so I arranged a visit to their factory before the show for a one-on-one audition of these new cans.

Sankar Thiagasamudram, Audeze's CEO, spent a couple hours giving me the run-down and full demo of the upcoming headphone. The Mobius will initially be targeting the gaming market where 3D audio is already fairly well entrenched, and while copious headphone competition exists in the space, it seems to me the competitors are not as strong in terms of sound quality as they are in the headphone enthusiast market. Seems to me a solid strategy for Audeze.

The headphones can get their signal through an analog cable, a USB digital cable, or over Bluetooth, but all signals are digitized and fed to a DSP chip for processing. Mobius has a built-in head tracker that feeds information to the DSP in order to change parameters of the head related transfer function (HRTF) and provide the illusion of of sound coming to you from the outside world. It also includes processing to synthesize a virtual listening room.

Though not implemented in the pre-production unit I tested, there will in future be controls to adjust both the size and reverberant field of the virtual room, and to personalize the HRTF using measurements like the circumference of your head and ear size. But even without those tuning features I thought it did a fairly good job of producing the illusion without introducing disturbing sound characteristics, and keeping the fidelity of sound intact. It did not, however, do a convincing job of frontal localization, which is incredibly hard to accomplish. Perhaps the further tuning features will improve that, but frankly, I've never heard a virtual audio headphone that could. I did feel the Mobius ranked in the top quarter of my 3D headphone experiences in terms of localization, but quite a bit higher in terms of clarity of sound and lack of digital artifacts.

Sankar gives us all the rundown in the video.

View on YouTube

COMMENTS
castleofargh's picture

"It did not, however, do a convincing job of frontal localization, which is incredibly hard to accomplish."
it's not their fault, it's your head ;)
mono needs to be EQed specifically as there is very little else for the brain to work with at the exact center(no ITD).
you've mentioned that issue often, maybe you should get in touch with David Griesinger for this frontal image matter specifically. he has made a tutorial video and even a little app to facilitate the process of EQing by ear.

when it comes to 3D, center is only one position obviously, but I wonder if you go EQ the Mobius to have the center image that works for you. could it be enough to make the rest of the standard HRTF become more convincing?

I wished to try that with the Waves NX tracker, but I just never could make any proper use of that little crap toy outside of the buggy android app. and I never got to buy a good enough webcam for the PC app. so I have yet to answer my own question on this.

risotto's picture

I find that the bs2b filter(http://bs2b.sourceforge.net/) is quite nice. Even though the effectiveness is felt only after you turn it off and find the image to be inside one's head.
Now, i don't listen without filter.

agattieri's picture

great plugin. Thanks!

castleofargh's picture

I like crossfeed(more than nothing at all on headphones at least), but this is definitely not what Tyll was talking about or how to solve the issue.
his issue is how the mono signals will fail to give a sense of distance or even the right height. the correct EQ will absolutely put the perceived location at the right altitude, and hopefully once that is more natural, the brain can let the image of it go a littler further in distance too.
applying crossfeed to mono isn't going to help, or do anything good for that matter.

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