A small British company has developed patent-pending earphone technology that removes distortion created by the shape of our ear canals, simply by treating sound like light. The result is Mirror Image Sound™, that creators Flare Audio state has finally advanced earphone performance without the need for corrective electronics.
With the technology successfully demonstrated in their proof-of-concept earphone, the E-Prototype, Flare has launched a crowdfunding campaign to bring this audio quality to a new range of earphones. The campaign launched on Indiegogo and reached its target in 4 hours. It runs for another 18 days and offers backers discounts on all earphones across the EARS range, as well as the E-Prototype, which is available for immediate shipping.
The EARS series includes an Everyday version, an Active Bluetooth® version, a Recording edition (a reliable reference for producers and engineers) and the top of the range Superior edition, which the company asserts delivers clarity ‘surpassing anything currently available on the high-end market’.
With an interchangeable design, the earphones allow consumers to customise their earphones in a range of colours. With other accessories such as headbands, EARS will offer a staggering 23,000 unique styling options.
“Right now, there’s a limit on sound quality. With traditional methods, it doesn’t matter how much money you spend on earphones and headphones, there will be a limit on how much detail you can hear,” explains Flare Audio co-founder and CEO Davies Roberts. “This campaign will allow us to bring mirror image sound to everyone, without the price tag you’d expect from this level of audio quality.”
About the tech: the audio problem – and the solution
Following twelve years of inventing and designing audio products that minimise distortion to produce the best sound possible, Flare started to look more deeply at the human ear. Through extensive R&D, they investigated how the design of the human ear distorts sound far more than most of the audio equipment we listen to. This is because sound cannot reflect accurately through the irregular bends, shapes and curves in our ears.
“Our own ears have prevented us from ever truly advancing sound quality,” states Roberts. “Think of it like looking into a wobbly mirror, the reflection you see is not a true representation of reality. On top of this everyone’s ears are different, but the one thing we all have in common is that we never hear the original sound. HRTF or Head Related Transfer Function means that 20% of what we hear is actually distorted.”
Flare’s new earphone design uniquely channels and reflects sound directly onto the eardrum, eliminating the reverberation and distortions naturally created by our ears. To demonstrate how it works, Flare set up a super-scaled earphone at its HQ to show how sound travels through the design using lasers. The technology was first used in their E-Prototype, which was launched last winter and 3D printed at the company’s headquarters in Sussex, UK. Through reducing HRTF distortion, Flare states that the E-Prototype delivers ‘a sound of unrivalled purity and detail’.
Praised by a host of music and arts influencers including Ian Broudie (The Lightning Seeds) Fran Healy (Travis), Neil Gaiman (author The Sandman, Stardust), legendary producer Tony Visconti, Liam Howlett (The Prodigy), David Arnold (Composer, James Bond) and Isy Suttie (actress, writer, comedian), the patent-pending technology used in the E-Prototype recreates ‘the closest sound possible to that produced by musicians when they perform’.
Professional / Audiophile benefits:
Flare asserts that its R and S models will surpass the sound quality of even the most premium IEMs, making the range interesting for the professional and audiophile markets. “Our technology means we can produce sound transcending IEMs costing thousands,” explains Roberts. “We’re just not giving it that price tag as we want to deliver this leap in audio advancement to everyone.” Flare hopes the level of clarity achieved with this technology will even advance music recording techniques, as the extra audio clarity revealed allows musicians and producers to work at a more detailed level. Their E-Prototype was used to mix possibly one of the most challenging recordings ever produced, the Tubular Bells 50th Anniversary Edition.
Roberts explains: “By exploring the point where physics meets biology, we’ve moved closer to pure sound. When we took away natural distortion the quality was extraordinary – beyond what you hear in the recording studio. All music producers to whom we’ve shown E-Prototype so far have been astonished that such an unassuming earphone can produce such exceptional sound quality. We now can’t wait to shake up the industry and bring this to consumers world-wide with our EARS crowdfunding campaign. Meeting our funding targets within four hours is an exciting start.”
The EARS range will be priced between £50-£300, with the campaign offering substantial discounts for backers.
Campaign Link and Further Details