The Audeara A-01 is the world’s first headphone that offers an in-built hearing test to protect users’ ears. It also offers excellent sound, although, to my ears, my AirPods sound just as good.
The headphones, developed in tandem with medical professionals, can purportedly prevent hearing loss by delivering a tailored listening experience — in other words, making the sound better rather than louder, which prevents the ongoing cycle of hearing damage.
The outstanding feature of the Audeara A-01s is a built-in hearing test operated via the free Audeara app for iOS and Android that calibrates the sound output for your personal hearing range. Though the headphone makers make it clear that the test isn’t designed to take the place of a dedicated test by a medical professional, the app provides three tests available that analyze your hearing in each ear and adjust the output audio to your profile.
There’s a standard 8-beep test that takes around three minutes per ear to complete. There’s also an in-depth 32-beep test that takes around 10 minutes per ear.
Once the test is completed, you upload your sound profile to the A-01s and you can use them with any Bluetooth-enabled media device for customized audio. At least, that’s the idea. I ran into one snafu, but more on that in a moment.
After the first test, the app isn’t required again unless you want to retest. Conveniently, you can also have different profiles for different users, allowing you to share the headphones with other family members without losing your own hearing profile.
Also, though the app shows you the results of your hearing test in a graph, but doesn’t tell you how to interpret the data. You can go online to see what the data means, but it would have been much more convenient to have the app interpret the results.
The headphones come with a 3.5mm headphone cable, but they’re mainly meant to be used wirelessly via Bluetooth. The Audeara A-01s can be connected to two, and only two, Bluetooth devices at once. I had to make repeated attempts to pair them with my iPhone and could never get them to pair with my iMac. The latter was especially disappointing since I often listen to my tunes while working on the desktop.
If you’re having issues with the Bluetooth connection, clear the pairing list on the A-01, then complete a soft reset on the headphones. To do this, you simultaneously hold down both the volume up and volume down buttons (+ and -) until the LED light stops flashing and turns a purple color. The LED will then turn off. You will then need to switch them off and on again and they will be back in pairing mode (blue/red flashing LED) and ready to connect again.
The A-01s have an elegant, straight-forward design: a simple matte finish with plush padding, so they’re extremely comfortable. For me, anyway; I think they might be a bit tight for those with bigger noggins.
One complaint: it’s hard to manipulate the volume controls — three buttons and two switches (one for power and one for the noise cancellation) —without removing the headphones from your head.
Speaking of noise cancellation, the A-01s feature active noise cancellation that works flawlessly. An ANC switch on the ear cup offers you a choice between noise cancellation and the best audio quality. You can’t have both.
As for the overall sound quality of the A-01, it’s very good, if not excellent. Customizing your hearing profile provides details in songs you haven’t heard before, but it can also soften or muddle some tones. For me, the bass was satisfactory if a bit soft, and the mid-range and high-range sounds were clean and detailed, especially on vocals. That said, I found the (non-customized) audio on my AirPods to be comparable.
Finally, another excellent feature of the Audera: they have a 35-hour plus battery life when used wirelessly.
Conclusion: if the hearing test, customization options, and battery life sound tempting, these headphones may be exactly what you need. On the other hand, if your current earphones serve you just fine and/or the A-01s’ $249.99 price is too steep, you may wish to save your hard-earned dollars. The Audeara headphones are available from Amazon.com.
Apple World Today Rating (out of 5 stars): ★★★★