Let’s get down to brass tacks here: you and I both probably see another earbud announcement from yet another new company and roll our eyes in unison, right? This is one that you and I both should pay attention to, though. It comes from a company called Om Audio, which was founded by “a group of committed consumer electronics, audio and technology experts, including former staff members at Dolby and Gracenote.” So there’s definitely some good pedigree there. But what interests me most about the new Inearpeace in-ear monitor, aside from its groovy name, is the technology within.
The dirty little secret of the in-ear headphone industry is that most brands simply shop around at the handful of OEMs available to them, maybe make some tweaks to the voicing to crank up the bass, and sell you essentially the same earbuds that everyone else is selling you, with a different shell and a different price tag. Om Audio is taking a different approach by developing its own two-way driver technology that promises to deliver a “crisp, clear and clean sound experience.”
Most in-ear monitors fall into two distinct categories: those that rely on dynamic or moving coil drivers (that would be most of them), and the ones that rely on balanced armatures (the better of which actually used multiple balanced armatures to extend frequency range and increase output). Om Audio is one of the rare breed of manufacturers delivering a hybrid driver design, with a balanced armature for the high frequencies and a 10mm coiled bass driver for the bottom end.
This is of particular interest to me, because you may have noticed that I stopped reviewing in-ear monitors a while back. The reason being: dynamic drivers don’t like to produce frequencies above 8kHz or so, and the tricks that manufacturers use to push them to do so actually cause me physical pain. So I tend to gravitate toward earbuds that most people would describe as dull. And since my unique inner-ear situation doesn’t apply to most of you, I decided to bow out of IEM reviews entirely and leave that to folks like Lauren Dragan over at The Wirecutter.
But the Inearpeace in-ear monitor intrigues me. I’d love to hear if the hybrid driver design truly delivers the best of both worlds: pain-free high end and sufficient output to rock out when called upon to rock out.
Other neat touches of the Inearpeace include a special pressure-relief system to reduce fatigue and a neat tangle-free cable.
From the press release:
Om Audio and Inearpeace have already caught the ear of a number of high profile musicians, each lured to the in-ear monitor for its sound experience. Among those include ALO’s (Animal Liberation Orchestra) Dan Lebowitz.
“When traveling on the road it’s crucial to have a good set of headphones,” said Lebowitz, lead guitarist for ALO in reference to Inearpeace from Om Audio. “Sometimes just the way you get away from it all, is to pop those headphones in your ear, put on some music you love; it’s just the best escape.”
You can also hear more of Lebowitz’s thoughts in the promotional video below.
The Om Audio Inearpeace in-ear monitor is available in your choice of black or white and sells for $149, exclusively at OneCall.