Audio

Nuraphone: Two-in-one headphones with customised profiles

Two main genres of headphones are in-ear and over-ear headphones.

Some prefer in-ear headphones as they do not heat up the ears. But over-ear headphones cancel out noise better, making them handy for long-haul flights.

The Nuraphone is both genres rolled into one. From the outside, this pair of wireless headphones looks like over-ear headphones, with two ear cups connected by a stainless steel headband. But look inside the ear cups and you will see earbuds protruding out.

It makes for a strange experience, at least when I first put it on.

There are no visible buttons on the headphones - they automatically power up when you put them on.

There are two sets of drivers - a 15mm in-ear driver and a 40mm over-ear driver - in each ear cup.

  • FOR

    • Customised hearing profile

    • Great bass with force feedback

    • Comfortable

  • AGAINST

    • Slightly pricey

    • Proprietary charging cable

  • SPECS

    PRICE: $629

    FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 20Hz to 20,000 Hz

    DRIVERS: 15mm in-ear drivers, 40mm over-ear drivers

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth

    WEIGHT: 329g

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4.5/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

The Nuraphone is able to customise a profile to match your hearing. It does this by playing a range of tones into your ears and then measuring the very faint sound that your ears generate in response.

The returning sound wave contains information about how well you hear the tones. The Nuraphone's built-in self-learning engine uses this information to create your hearing profile - you can create up to three profiles.

This process requires the Nura app (available for Android and iOS) andis a breeze to set up - just follow the on-screen instructions and it is done in about a minute.

The app allows you to listen using the neutral setting or your customised profile. The neutral setting sounds more muffled to me compared with $5 in-ear headphones.

But once switched to the customised profile, the audio output is amazing.

The mids and highs are sharp and distinct, thanks to the in-ear drivers. The over-ear drivers deliver a very solid and thumpy bass that actually vibrates - sort of like the force feedback effect in gaming devices - to provide plenty of feedback to the ears.

Essentially, it is trying to replicate the bass one feels during concerts. And you can adjust the amount of bass via the app.

Each ear cup has a touch-sensitive button disguised as the Nuraphone logo. The app allows you to customise the buttons for volume control or playback.

Everything else is controlled by the app, including active noise cancellation (ANC) and the social mode.

Switch on the social mode to listen to what is going on around you - handy when you are crossing the road.

Battery life is pretty good at 15 to 20 hours of music playback.

On the downside, the headphones use a proprietary USB charging cable instead of a micro-USB or USB-C cable, so don't lose it.

The Nuraphone is slightly expensive compared with ANC over-ear headphones such as the Sony WH-1000XM3 and the Bose QuickComfort 35. But you don't get the bass force feedback with these headphones.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 20, 2019, with the headline 'Two-in-one headphones with customised profiles'. Print Edition | Subscribe