For decades, headphones have been one-size-fits-all. Not only in terms of the physical fit on your skull, but also in terms of sound quality.
Nura, a new headphone company, hopes to change that with their high-tech earpieces. The official headphone company of the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team, it promises to offer fully personalised sound using artificial intelligence.
You might've seen Nura advertised in Instagram ads. Founded by hearing scientist Dr Luke Campbell, the company claims its products adapt to listeners' specific hearing and then automatically adjust the settings. This enables it to provide everyone with their own "perfect" unique sound.
We tested out their flagship NuraTrue headphones to see whether this was actually true—and the answer was pretty surprising.
NuraTrue unboxing: what's included
The NuraTrue earphones arrive with relatively minimal packaging, inside a small sleek black box that doubles as a charging station. It includes some small earpieces of varying sizes as well as a mini charging cable.
The earphones themselves are very robust and well-made. They don't weigh too much but are clearly of good build quality. You'll want to make sure they fit properly using the included moulds.
Once you take the earphones out and stick them in your lugholes, a robotic voice detects that you're about to use them, and asks you to politely connect the devices to the Nura app.
After you've downloaded the app to your phone, you can set up your Nura for the first time.
This is a relatively painless process. You simply select which Nura phones you're using, connect them by Bluetooth, and tell the app your name. (This is so that friendly robot can greet you every time you use them.)
Building a personalised sound profile: how it works
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Now for the interesting part. You'll be asked to create a listening profile. It'll ask you to give the profile a name, and then tell you to sit somewhere quietly so you can customise your sound.
This works by playing a series of crunchy high-pitched tones in quick succession. Thankfully, this is over pretty quickly and takes less than sixty seconds.
These high-pitched tones cause your ear to create extremely quiet sounds in response (yes, your ears make noise). These sounds are sent back to the NuraTrue, and using a tiny microphone, they analyse which frequencies your ears are most sensitive to and which need boosting.
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It will begin playing a song in 'neutral' mode, and once you're ready, prompt you to activate your 'personalised' sound profile. This part is actually quite astounding. The sound goes from quite flat and tinny, then absolutely pops in all directions.
The difference between 'neutral' and 'personalised' sound is so impressive that it's almost suspicious. It makes you wonder whether they deliberately dialled down the basic sound quality in the earphones to make the personalised profile pop more when you turn it on.
One really cool feature is the 'immersion mode'. This essentially lets you customise the bass reverb on the headphones, to emulate the sort of bass frequencies you'd hear at a live concert. It makes the bass sound rich and expansive, so you might as well crank it all the way up.
Other features: touch controls, comfort, and connectivity
The NuraTrue earphones have some pretty nifty touch controls, if rather basic. You can tap once on the left earbud to turn the noise cancellation feature on or off (what the company calls 'social mode', which you'll want to keep switched off while you're on noisy trains).
Or, tap once on the right earbud to pause the song. You can even double-tap to fast forward the track.
When it comes to battery life, Nura claim the earpieces themselves have a battery life of six hours, with three additional charges crammed into the charging box.
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This seems to hold up in reality, although you need to be careful and make sure the earphones are connected to the little metal charging pads properly or they'll die on you.
The only issue with NuraTrue is comfort after long stints. This is an issue that affects most earphones after long listening sessions, but your ears might get a bit sore with these if you don't typically wear earphones. The box does include different rubber mounts that can adjust your fit, so it's worth playing about them.
Verdict: The NuraTrue deliver some incredibly impressive high-end sound quality for a decent price of £200. While they might not be a perfect fit for all ear types, their AI-powered audio profiling offers a huge step up in quality from basic earbuds. Just don't forget your charging case. 4/5
- Artificial Intelligence
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