Meet IRIS Headphones: the latest in immersive wireless technology?

(Image credit: IRIS)

Gone are the days when wireless headphones just had to successfully do away with the wire connecting your cans to your music source to impress. These days, audio brands are including tech such as active noise cancelling, Dolby Atmos, aptX HD Bluetooth and aptX Adaptive within even the smallest driver housings, all in a bid for a bigger bite of the wireless headphones cherry. 

Enter then, 2018 startup IRIS, an audio company that boldly announces, "We are approaching audio like no one else. Where others add layers of artificial processing, IRIS takes you back to nothing but real, live sound." 

IRIS is not only the company's name, it's also the name of the tech – and the firm's new IRIS Headphones. IRIS, according to the firm, is "a revolutionary new audio experience that dramatically increases sound quality by introducing the space that is normally missing from recorded audio, unlocking the ‘live’ dimension that’s often lost."

How is this done? Apparently, through "a proprietary algorithm which splits out and increases the phase information sent to the brain. The listener’s brain then reassembles this vast increase in information and becomes far more active in the listening process."

Helpfully, you can test whether listening to IRIS makes sound feel live (and you more alive) with the IRIS listen tab, on the company's website. Simply connect your headphones, listen to one of five hit tracks and toggle between IRIS on, and IRIS off to hear the difference. If you like what you hear, there's also an IRIS Listen Well app for iOS and Android. 

If you want IRIS's Active Listening audio experience tech built in to your cans, however, you'll need the new IRIS Headphones, (above). 

As well as being the only headphones with IRIS built-in, you'll get 40mm beryllium drivers, a 37-hour battery life charged via USB-C, aptX low latency and aptX HD/AAC codecs, Bluetooth 5.1, dual and Qualcomm cVc tech for optimised call-handling, an aluminium chassis, precision-engineered acoustic chambers, sound-isolating padded earcups with synthetic leather covers, a carrying case and even USB-C to USB-A and 3.5mm to 6.35mm adapters in the box. 

The IRIS Headphones are currently being launched on crowdfunding site Indiegogo. The 35 per cent discount perk is sold out, but you can still select the 27 per cent off perk, meaning your pair of IRIS Heapdhones will cost £232  (approx. $301 / AU$420) rather than £319 (around $414 / AU$577). 

The project has already exceeded its £50,000 funding goal with 30 days of the campaign left to run – at the time of writing, the project has received just over £65,000 in backing. IRIS says its Headphones will ship worldwide, beginning in October 2020. We can't vouch for the build quality or sound claims (yet), but they certainly look interesting...


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Becky has been a full-time staff writer at What Hi-Fi? since March 2019. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, she freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 20-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance is of course tethered to a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo, This is Cabaret and The Stage. When not writing, she dances, spins in the air, drinks coffee, watches football or surfs in Cornwall with her other half – a football writer whose talent knows no bounds.