We are a little obsessed with headphones, in case it wasn’t already obvious.
The difference between stock Apple earpods and a pair of quality headphones can mean the difference between life and death, for your ears!
Apple dropped the ball big time by removing the analog headphone jack and thinking “Airpods” were a satisfactory replacement.
They were wrong.
Fortunately for us, a whole bunch of 3rd party headphone manufacturers have stepped in to fill the gaping audiophile void created by Apple for any iPhone or iPad user who happens to also have a passion for high quality audio.
While we’ve reviewed dozens of lightning cable headphones and earbuds, ranging from the cheap (under $20) to the crazy expensive (over $1,000), they all are all pretty “traditional” in their design, minus the lightning cable of course.
Well, a company has finally come along, not satisfied with just making a quality pair of cans, to completely turn the headphone world upside down with a truly revolutionary design.
The company we’re talking about is Nura and their disruptive earphone technology is called Nuraphone…
What’s The Deal With The Name?
Nuraphone… is that Spanish?
Not quite. Nura sounds a lot like the beginning of “neurological” , which is the scientific way to talk about brain function. Once you dig into these headphones a bit, that begins to make sense.
The unique selling feature of the Nuraphones is that they are intelligent. They use ear a unique ear cup design and high end technology to map your ear, called “sonic moulding” so that the can adapts its sound to be customized to each individual user.
When you unbox a pair of Nuraphones you have to set them up and get them calibrated. This involves downloading their app and listening to a bunch of obscure technical beeps and tones as the earphones calibrate themselves to your individual ear shape.
This isn’t some kind of gimmick, this same technology is used by doctors and medical equipment companies to help diagnose children with hearing difficulties.
After the initial calibration period the headphones will be calibrated precisely for your listening preferences and your ear design, making these some of the cheapest custom cans on the market.
Still not a believer? Neither were we, until we saw some of the recorded reactions from users who tried the Nura cans for the first time. Check it out:
Customized one-off earphone construction usually runs in the thousands of dollars. Even just getting a pair of IEMs custom moulded can cost hundreds. These cans don’t only learn you ear, they change how they produce audio so it is maximized for your specific ear canal!
Truly Innovative Design
No only doe the Nuraphones contain innovative ear mapping and customized audio tech, their physical design is also completely revolutionary.
These are the first in-ear/over-ear hybrid headphones we’ve ever seen.
No, that was not a type. These are simultaneously in-ear and over-ear cans.
How is that possible?
The ear cup has a soft memory-foam like cup that goes over your entire ear, blocking out ambient noises and absorbing some of the clamping pressure comfortably on your head.
Within each ear cup then is a little rubber ear tip called “inova architecture” that is rubber mounted and flexible so that it can wiggle its way directly into your ear hole.
Sound can be then be played via separate drivers, one via the bigger outer cup, producing deep, rich, bass, and one driver in the earbud itself for crisp and precise highs and trebles.
These do not have active noise cancelling technology, but with the in-ear/over-ear combination it really isn’t necessary. Every tester who has tried the Nuraphone has said they could barely hear anything around them with the hybrid design isolating plenty well on their own.
The truly disruptive engineering behind the Nuraphones makes sense when you consider how these cans were born.
Unlike most models on the market, these are not the product of some huge multinational electronics manufacturing company. No sir/ma’am. The Nurophones were born via the mother of all innovation; Kickstarter.
That’s right, the Nuraphone is a poster child for Kickstarter innovation and startup success.
Having raised over $1.8 million via the crowdfunding campaign the Nura startup went on to secure another $4.6 in seed funding from investors to kick off their amazing brand.
So, what’s the deal with these bad boys? Well, the technical details include:
- Design: Over-ear + In-ear hybrid
- Power: Bluetooth or Lightning or USB-C
- Dimensions: 190 x 170 x 88 mm
- Weight: 329 g
- Connectivity: Bluetooth aptX HD, Universal Wired options (Lightning, USB-C, Micro-USB, analog)
- Battery: Lithium Ion Battery up to 20 hrs
- Noise Isolation: Dual passive noise isolation
- Materials: High grade stainless aluminum cups, hypoallergenic silicon pads
- Voice: External microphone for call management
The most unique aspect of the Nuraphone design is that they are Bluetooth but they can also be cabled headphones as well.
This alone is a huge innovation as it means you can go cable free when you want, or you can plug into your iPhone and charge your headphones while you listen to your music, no annoying dongle necessary!
We also like the adaptability of these cans. In this transition period between cable and wireless we may encounter many different listening situations through the course of a day.
For example, at home you may use a desktop with only a USB-C connection type or a 3.5mm analog connector type. The Nuraphone can handle both.
Then while commuting to work you don’t want to use cables. No problem, simply go cable free, 100% Bluetooth mode.
Once at work if you want to jam out all day while working without draining your battery? No problem, just plug your Nuraphones into your iPhone and rock-out with your cock out…er, we mean “rock out in a professional fashion”… all worry-free!
That’s right, with the Lightning cable attachment these are full-fledge Apple-ready lightning cans! The coolest thing is though they aren’t permanent lightning cans as you can swap them out to go old-school analog or even USB-C if you happen to switch phones in the future, which is a nice piece of mind to have.
Are They Worth The Money?
The biggest question everyone has to ask at the end of the day, no matter how impressive the technology is, “but is it worth it?”
Sometimes, no matter how in love we are with a pair of cans and their sound quality, we still have to admit their price tag just isn’t smart for most people with average income levels.
The Bowers & Wilkins P9 flagship cans are the perfect example of this. These top-of-the-range lightning cable cans by B&W are some of the highest rated, most “audiophile” grade iPhone friendly cans on the market.
The Saffiano leather earcups and Alcantara carrying case and all the glorious tech behind the P9’s however means they retail for just under a thousand dollars ($899.99 online), which is just too much for your average person to justify spending on.
The Nuraphones on the other hand, with all of their innovative tech and groundbreaking design can be had for under $400, with the starting retail price at $399.
This might seem like a lot, but if you look at botht he quality of materials and the innovative ear mapping/customization tech, it’s actually more of a steal, especially considering whales like the P9 exist out there..
The competition in the high-end lightning headphone vertical is fierce. We’ve reviewed the Audeze Sine with their blacked out look and planar magnetic drivers were very impressed with their build quality as well as the sound.
Philips produces a very price-friendly lightning headset called the Fidelio M2L which are both reliable and won’t require taking out an insurance policy in case they break.
These Nuraphones however fall into a real sweet spot between the super high end, financially unobtainable and the lower priced, consumer grade options.
To make an analogy, if the B&W P9s are the Rolls Royce of lightning headphone options and the Philips Fidelio M2L are the Honda Accord then we’d peg the Nuraphone as the stately Audi sedan.
The price is high but not ridiculous, especially considering what you get for your money. We’d happily spend on the Nuraphones, not just because we’re bassheads and their unique double driver design makes for some of the richest bass out there, but because for the build quality and flexibility, nothing comes close in terms of value for dollar.
Do you have a pair of Nuraphones? Let us know what YOU think of these cans in the comments below!