What The Future Of Headphones Could Look Like
There’s nothing better than raving to one of your favourite songs from the private solace of a pair of booming headphones. As soon as you place those headphones over your ears, you can be transported to a place of happiness and tranquility, providing a brief respite from the never-ending hustle and bustle of daily life. A 2019 report from the IFPI found that a person will listen to around 18 hours of music a week on average and, with the constant increase of online music streaming and evolvement of tech, that figure is only likely to increase ever further.
The big-hitters when it comes to headphones, such as Bose, Sony and Beats by Dre, have produced the highest-quality new headphones for the past decade, and always manage to find innovative new ways to improve their audio products. It’s likely they’ll stay pioneers of the headphone game for years to come, but don’t be too quick to write off other, lesser-known brands looking to completely revolutionise and redefine the audio industry. In fact, we’ve got one coming up in this blog that may well surprise you!
In this blog, we’ll be exploring all of the potential changes you can expect to see in the headphone industry in the years to come. From tweaks on state-of-the-art favourites to totally new concepts, the future of headphone technology is set to be more immersive and exciting than ever before. Let's get started!
The future of style
The current crop of audio listening devices and styles have been staples in the scene for years, with the two most popular setups being in-ear (earbuds) and over-ear (headphones), both providing the consumer with different benefits for varying occasions. For day-to-day use, earbuds have long been the most popular choice for listening to music or podcasts - generally priced lower than comparable models and easily portable, perfect for the working individual. For those who desire a more high-end, professional listening experience, over-ear headphones tend to be the product of choice.
In recent years, manufacturers have been able to rid consumers of tangly wires by producing wireless headphones, allowing a more flexible listening experience - meaning you can keep your earphones in while going for a run and working out. Apple AirPods started the boom of in-ear wireless earbuds, setting the trend that led to a whole host of similar earbuds from companies such as Samsung and JBL.
Turning to the future, there’s one manufacturer in particular that’s attempting to reinvent headphones as we currently know them, creating what they call “The first true wireless over-ear headphones.” And no, it’s not from a brand you’d expect! They’re called Human Inc. and they’ve created a pair of ultra-light over-ear headphones that sit neatly over your ear. Sounds pretty normal, right? Here’s where it gets good: not only do these headphones completely throw out the typical headband design, they also convert into a cool portable speaker when you connect the two together and can even translate 11 different languages in real-time. These completely change the game, as they’re able to give you the audio power that you’d receive from a pair of industry-leading headphones while also offering the portability and comfort that a smaller, in-ear earbuds provide. Add in the ability to convert the wireless headphones into a Bluetooth speaker and act as your very own personal translator at the same time, and this product is definitely one to watch going forward. You never know, this could be the product that sets the standard for the future of headphones!
Headphone users of the future
Looking forward, the wants and needs of headphone users across the globe will no doubt change, and other new technologies will have a large influence on this. Who knows, maybe in 20 years we’ll be able to download music straight to our brain and listen in much the same way we hear our thoughts in the present day! What we can predict for certain is that music in some shape or form will still be being produced and people will want to listen to it.
Another huge factor on the usage of headphones and how they’ll be adapted in the future is gaming! The gaming industry is massive and will only continue to grow, so we can’t wait to see how the adaption of headphones links to the constantly evolving and extremely immersive gaming industry. The rise of VR gaming will no doubt be an area to look out for. With VR, the audio experience is almost as important as the visual one, with the sound having a profound effect on emphasising the realism that VR gamers will want to have. Existing VR headphones are already ultra-effective and provide clear audio, enhancing the immersive experience significantly. In the future, it’s likely that those creating VR headsets and games may look to create specific new headphones designed exclusively for that very VR headset, a relatively untapped opportunity at present.
What does the future look like?
The future of headphones is extremely exciting, with a multitude of ways they could evolve due to ever-changing technologies. Many of the leading brands will be keeping a close eye on tech trends to stay ahead of their game, and some have even started to tease new concepts to firmly plant their foot in the door of the future. Let’s not forget Sony’s Concept N, which was teased to the public for the first time way back in 2016. The early design indicated a first of its kind, ear-free headphone unit, which would sit around your neck and send sound signals to your ear via holes at the side. It also appeared to feature a camera, microphone, and even phone call functions, which is certainly a step up from the tech found in headphones today. Unfortunately, even though this concept was announced five years ago, it doesn’t appear to be on the cards for commercial release any time soon. But there’s no harm in rewatching the teaser video to reignite our excitement…
A shift towards lighter, more ergonomic headphones that don’t require wires or even a headband seem to be the next phase in headphone development. Apple's first foray into over-ear headphones, the AirPods Max, have a minimal strap, alluding to a future in which they release headphones similar to the ones Human have made. For now, though, in-ear wireless earbuds are arguably the most popular choice of all and will, without a doubt, maintain their popularity in the future due to the practicality and portability they provide.
On the theme of the present, why not upgrade your gadgets with a brand new pair of cans today? Our headphones category is bursting with state-of-the-art models from some of the biggest names in the business (and a wealth of hidden gems, too!). With a variety of styles and features to choose from, available in prices to suit all pockets, we’ve truly got something for everyone. To help you pick out the best pair for you, we’ve put together a guide covering everything you need to know before committing to your purchase, and even listed some of our top picks on the market today. To discover more, check out our entire selection of headphones guides here.