MQA, PSB Speakers and hearables start-up company Sonical have partnered to produce a pair of "high-resolution audio headphones" that combines hi-res wireless transmission with a computer-in-your-ear operating platform. Indeed, these headphones – due to go on sale under the PSB brand early next year – sound 'next-gen' in more ways than one.
The high-quality wireless connection comes courtesy of MQA's latest technology, SCL6, a codec that has been designed to facilitate truly hi-res audio streaming for the first time in such products. We have an SCL6 explainer and hands-on review for those who want to dive deeper into the fledgling technology, but in a nutshell it has the potential to have a hugely positive impact on the quality of wireless audio in headphones and other portable devices.
As for the headphones-based computing system that will be at their core, that comes courtesy of Sonical and is officially called CosmOS, though it has been referred to as ‘Headphone 3.0’ for its next-level ambition. As we delved into recently, the idea behind Sonical CosmOS is to open up headphones to apps, allowing users to install and use third-party apps in the same way they can on their phones. The system will allow headphone manufacturers greater versatility in what their sets can offer, and be all the smarter for that. The system supposedly runs on powerful low-wattage processing cores, enabling it to reside in a portable, battery-powered product like wireless headphones. Why, that makes our current pairs of wireless headphones on our desks sound pretty dumb!
“Our use of the CosmOS platform to make the world’s first software defined wireless headset, and the inclusion of MQA’s adaptive wireless codec helps set a new benchmark for a high resolution, mobile high-fidelity product," says Gordon Simmonds, president and CEO of Lenbrook Industries, PSB Speakers’ parent company. "We believe this product underscores what Paul Barton and the PSB team have accomplished over the brand’s 50-year history in the pursuit of audio excellence for listeners at home and now on the move."
Further details about the PSB-branded headphones are being kept under wraps for now, but already they have us wondering whether such a 'smart' and hi-res-supporting pair will give us a glimpse into the near-future of headphones. And that alone gives us reason to look to their arrival next year with keen anticipation.
That certainly gives MQA time to start building out an ecosystem of products to give consumers an end-to-end option when the PSB headphones launch, for a lot of technologies, SCL6 requires support from the source as well.
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