The proliferation of technology is such that despite the fact I’m often out and about testing new gadgets, often it’s a neat tweak on an existing idea and only of mild interest to the people I meet. Not so with my Damson Headbones, which have been constant talking point for the past week that I’ve been testing them.
The Damson Headbones both sound fascinating as a product, look dorky and cool and can at times be life changingly wonderful and at times utterly useless. This was a harder review to write than usual. Unlike conventional headphones, Damson’s Headbones sit on your cheekbone (1 cm in front of your tragus according to Damon) with little vibrating pads that conduct sound directly into your skull. This leaves your ear canal completely unblocked – which is one of the key selling points of the headphones.
If you suffer from hearing loss conditions including bone conduction hearing loss, mixed hearing loss, single or double sided deafness, Damson claim the Headbones could help you hear in full stereo sound. I have none of these conditions but when I let my partially deaf mother play with unit she said she could head music much better with them, but then proceeded to complain incessantly about the John Carpenter I happened to have playing.
Where I found them most intriguing was in being able to listen without completely blocking out the outside world. I’m typing this in an office and I’m always cranking tunes to keep the outside world at bay. However, on the rare occasions that a college wants to interact with me, they can often be found waving and hollering trying to catch my attention. Headbones made that a thing of the past. If fact I could often conduct a whole conversation with a gentle underscoring of Bob James. In these moments I loved the Headbones and thought they were the future.
Although they’re not an audiophile-focused device the sound quality is more than decent, and if you crank them up you a really decent immersive feel. However they’re not always perfect. I took them for a cycle and, whilst fine on a quiet road, they were next to useless on a busy street. I love listening to podcasts and could make out a word on certain stretches of road. Even when I switched to music I could only get a bassline and some treble with all detail lost. Of course I was much safer on the road because of this, but I do like listening to tunes as a roll. To be fair, for moments such as this the Headbones do come with in-ear adaptors, but it would be nice to use them continuously without having to switch between inputs. They come with a nice little carry case for all the various attachments and a charging cable.
In these moments I loved the Headbones and thought they were the future.
The Damsons look weird – like an old-fashioned gadget from the days of Virtual Reality. There is basic playback control via a side button which is great, although the volume controls are awkwardly positioned at the back of the unit.
I have a massive dreadlocked ponytail, bushy beard and thick plastic glasses (I’m a real catch guys) so the full bulk of the unit wasn’t as obvious. I strapped a pair on my clean shaven, crewcut, 20/20 vision colleague and he suddenly looked like a visitor from the future. They only look bulky however- I didn’t find them particularly uncomfortable or restricting and I appreciated that the unit was sweat resistant up to IPX5. However, if you’re a style conscious music listener, you’re going to have to learn to be a little less shallow.
Headbones are out now from Damson