Hello everyone. I'm back with another review. You're probably thinking to yourself, my God Holden, how many headphones do you have? After I got this last week, I'll tell you all that I've gotten the headphones I use on a daily basis down to two, this one we're going to talk about today and my Sennheiser Ambeo Smart headset, which is still an excellent headset that I would recommend to anyone who wants to record in high-quality binaural audio and listen to music through a good headset made by a company with decades of experience in making audio equipment.
Now, onto the Nuraphone. First of all, I will tell you all this is an expensive headset. I won't even try to sugar coat it. If you decide you want to try this headset it's $399, but in this review I am including a link that you can use to get twenty percent off your order. Let me cover the things I don't like about this headset so that we can end with the positive and why even with the cons I'd still say buy this if you're an audio enthusiast looking for a terrific audio experience.
First of all, I don't like the fact that you have to control this headset with an app. The good part is, I can go into the app on my iPhone, which is for the most part very accessible, with just a few unlabeled buttons. From there I can switch between the hearing profiles, which we'll get to here in just a second, as well as turn on emersion mode, which brings out the low and bass frequencies in music, turn that on or off, as well as adjust how much emersion you want, from gentle to front row which, in my opinion, is a little bit much. I think one of the best parts about this headset is that when connected to a cable it remembers your settings. IN my experience most headsets which are meant to be used wirelessly can be wired in, but lose some of their sound if you do. Not so with this headset. I get the same sound whether I'm connected to my phone with Bluetooth or if I connect to my computer with the included USB cable. Maybe I should have included this first, and under any other set of circumstances I would, but I've reached out to Nura, the company that makes this headset, and they immediately got back to me and said this issue will be fixed with a firmware update. When you first get the headphones and connect them to your device using Bluetooth, they test your hearing by playing a range of different frequencies and using very sensitive microphones located in the headphones to find out which frequencies you specifically hear better and which ones you don't. Everyone hears sounds very differently. This is why some people like a certain sound, while another person can hear the same thing and not like it at all. Anyway, until this hearing profile test is complete you can't use the headphones, and what this means to us specifically as Voice-over users is that they are completely unusable until that hearing profile's been created. The good news is, if you have a Braille display or know another person who does, you're not out in the cold. I understand however that a Braille display is not something that everyone has and that was what I pointed out in my email. Within 24 hours, possibly less, the company got back to me and they apologized, as well as insuring me that with a firmware update Voice-over would be able to be used during the setup process, or the setup process would be changed in such a way as to make use of Voice-over unnecessary. As it is now, before the hearing test is run you have to enter your name and email address and answer whether you'd like to be emailed updates etc. After this process is completed however, you can set up additional hearing profiles as well as do everything else on your phone with no problem whatsoever. There aren't really any other cons that I can think of. Now, let's talk about the positives in this headset.
First of all, I actually like the design. Headphones overall have not really changed a whole lot in the last several decades. It's two pads you put on your ears connected by a wire to a device or possibly connected via Bluetooth that lets you hear privately without disturbing those around you. Some sound good, some sound awful but most are somewhere in-between in the middle. It depends on what you as a person are going for, whether it's sound, a certain look, or maybe it's the difference between a pair for the studio as opposed to something you can use while on a plane, but we all have a choice when it comes to the headphones that we as individuals want to use or in some cases be seen out and about in. I can tell you, the Nuraphone design is strange, but it makes so much sense. It's what the company calls Inovo. Let me explain. There's an over-ear component as well as an in-ear component. When you put the headphones on there are two earbuds that seal pretty well into your ears, as well as an over-ear part. The earbuds are responsible for driving highs and mid-range frequencies, while the over-ear drivers deal with bass. This is the kind of bass that can be felt. This is what I think the Skullcandy Crushers could have been like had Skullcandy been a little more revolutionary instead of just putting something in the hollow earcups that kicked the bass up a notch. Because the earbuds drive the mids and highs and the over-ear drivers take care of the bass, the sound doesn't muddy or distort at all. The insides of the earcups don't really get hot, because there's an air ventillation system that brings in cool air from the outside, and I've spent hours wearing these headphones with little to no discomfort.
When you hold them, they feel like they're made out of premium materials. No flimsy plastic here, these headphones are made out of aluminum and other materials that give them a nice feeling, and a good amount of weight so you feel sure that they were made for the long haul. As I said at the beginning, most of the functions of the headphones as far as the way they sound has to be adjusted through the app, but there are two touch buttons on the left and right earcups that can be configured through the app, and when connected over Bluetooth the buttons can do a variety of things, skip to next or previous track, play or pause music, answer and end phone calls, enable or disable emersion mode, as well as enable or disable the generic mode, as in, the headphones are not using your unique hearing profile. I will tell you, on generic mode, the sound is terrible. They sound very cheap, but it's definitely a comparison between your hearing profile and the generic headset. Now, to the sound, I'm not sure. The claim to fame on this headset is that it tailors the sound specifically for your ears. When creating your hearing profile at setup it plays tones in your ears and by doing so the headphones can tell which frequencies your ears respond to and which ones they don't. After that you can connect via Bluetooth or cable to any device and take your configured profile with you. The only thing that I can say is that I've fallen in love with my music all over again. I've had this headset for a little over a week now and I've had no desire to go near any of the other headsets I've had, my Blue Satellites, the Skullcandy Crushers or the Bose Qc-35's. When I'm at home I use this headset and when I'm out, I use the Sennheiser Ambeo. I don't want to use anything else, because no other headset puts out this much bass as well as excellent mids and highs with no distortion or muddy sound whatsoever. I can tell you that Nura, the company that makes this headset stands behind the Nuraphone and, if in 30 days you decide it's not for you you can send it back for a full refund in it's original packaging. For anyone here who is a true audio enthusiast, I say give these a try.
Update; Nuraphone, G2.
I knew I was giving my money to a great company. Back in March I got this headset and was blown away. Now, I'm blown away again. I just got this a little while ago, as in, today, but the new Nura update is out, and it's called Nuraphone G2. New features are active noise-cancelling, (not sure why they felt they needed this), with the headphones on and my music up, I can barely hear the outside world as it is. They have what they're calling"social mode" now, which is basically their version of Bose's Aware mode, Sennheiser's transparent hearing and some of the other companies who are putting out headphones now. We as blind folks can rejoice! The company has fixed the issue of Voice-over not working during setup. You can order these headphones with the confidence that you will have a totally accessible setup. The other feature that I can talk about now however is that you can now configure the touch-sensitive buttons on the side of the headphones. You can configure them so a single-tap performs one action, and double-tapping the button performs another one. . I had kind of a gripe about how terrible this headset was for taking phone calls. People complained that I sounded very muddy and that I wasn't coming in clear. This issue has now been fixed. I talked to my wife and my mother who've both assured me I sound good and clear.And there's one more thing. One of the problems with the Nuraphone was that it didn't audibly tell you the percentage of the battery before, and with this update, it does. If anyone here has the Bose QC-35's, you'll know when you turn them on that a voice says the percentage of the battery. Now the Nuraphone does this, and there's also a sound to let you know that it's charging.
Here's to the next big Nura update. So many companies have left us hanging before when they said they were going to bring their product to the next level, especially the startups who run out of money before they've accomplished what they set out to do, but I have good feelings about where this company is taking it's product.