Here earbuds let you tune how you hear the world

In the beginning there was the volume control, and it was good — so good in fact that it launched an infinite number of ways to tune and distort audio. But there was always a catch. The audio had to be playing through some kind of device, whether it be a transistor radio, CD player or iPhone.

But now, for the first time, people will be able to apply some of the same adjustments they’ve made to recorded audio to real-life audio via Here Active Listening earbuds. Somewhat of an equalizer for the real world, the Heres use a digital signal processor to allow you to not only tune people out, but change their bass and treble settings as well as a host of other options. The app comes equipped with a number of settings to take into account prolonged aural unpleasantness such as a baby crying or a being in a plane.

The earbuds, which come on a charging case akin to that of the HearNotes earbuds, last for six hours per charge so that likely won’t cover a full day at a chatty office without some time plugged in. Still, it’s more than ample for many flights or live concerts, another application for which Doppler Labs — which previously created the Dubs passive ambient earplugs — recommends Here. A pair of Here earbuds and the charging case will cost $199 (with a limit of 10,000 being offered in the campaign). They are due to ship in December. The company seeks to raise $250,000 via Kickstarter by July 1st.

There’s never been a product quite like the Here earbuds. In recognition of that, the product’s campaign notes that it’s not headphones, a Bluetooth headset or a hearing aid. It will take a fair amount of education to get people to understand just what it is. In addition, the campaign notes that the company endeavored to create something people would be “proud to wear – something that was both functional and elegant.” Alas, it’s first effort runs a little big to meet that goal as each Here earbud is about the size of a small Bluetooth headset such as the Moto Hint, but it could be a lot worse. The battery life could also be a bit better but DSPs consume a fair amount of power and the charging case helps. Here creates a new kind of augmented reality, an auditory one.

Arthur Tufeau is a contributor to Backerjack.