Historically, enjoyment of hi-fidelity sound has conjured images of rooms with racks of equipment, speakers as tall as an NBA guard, and a deep seat that evokes memories of vintage Maxell commercials. But even audiophiles have not been immune to the demands that being on the go places on listening pleasure. There are many contenders among high-end wired headphones that cater to the discriminating listener, but most of the wireless products have been plagued by a range of issues, including that they’re often not truly wireless.
HearNotes has sought escape from the constraints of Bluetooth by tapping a dormant audio technology called Kleer. Kleer was developed expressly for the purpose of transmitting uncompressed hi-fi stereo music at low power. Beyond quality improvements versus Bluetooth, it claims better resistance to interference. However, because Kleer isn’t ubiquitous in smartphones the way Bluetooth is, the company has had to develop a tiny transmitter that plugs into the headphone jack. This also means that, unlike with some Bluetooth earbuds, you won’t be able to quickly switch into a phone call should one disturb your jam.
To minimize the inconvenience of transmitter, the company has created a little storage box that charges the transmitter and completely wire-free left and right earbud for about four hours of blissful listening. HearNotes has also put a good spin on the need for the transmitter, noting that it offers virtually universal compatibility, even with devices such as some MP3 players and even old portable CD players that lack Bluetooth.
Because of the need to house a battery in each earbud, the HearNotes are a bit large but not comically so; they provide four hours of audio on a charge. Kickstarter hosts the crowdfunding campaign for HearNotes,, which is seeking $75,000 by Jun 7th. The campaign offers a number of limited early birds topping out at an unlimited quantity at $299. That’s a $50 discount from the expected retail price. The earbuds are set to delight auditory canals by January of 2016.
A decade ago, well-respected headphone company Sennheiser gave Kleer a whirl with the MX W1, which also shipped in a charging case. However, those earbuds each looked a bit like Bluetooth headsets and the retail price was $600. HearNotes may have arrived at the right time with interest in high-resolution music on the rise from brands such as Astell & Kern and Sony and services such asTidal. The high-resolution push that crowdfunding started with the Pono player may have found a way to wirelessly close the loop. That will be music to audiophiles’ ears.