Mimi teams up with Skullcandy, Cleer and Beyerdynamic to personalize audio

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audio processing startup Mimi promises to create a personalized listening profile for you, which means you can hear well without cranking up the sound too loud. This both helps prevent hearing loss, and it helps people who have already suffered some hearing loss to be able to hear their material better without causing additional damage to their hearing. for.

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In theory, as a science project, this sounds great, but as a company, there’s an obvious problem: Unless the technology makes its way to the products we’re used to hearing, It’s all a bit academic. You cannot help people unless technology is available in the products. This week, Mimi announced that it had a major breakthrough on that front, and announced some major partnerships. Making the company’s technology into household-name audio products is a huge win for the company—and for our collective hearing health.

Mimi CEO and Founder Philip Skribanowitz at the Nerdshala Battlefield Stage in 2014

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Mimi was on the Disrupt stage in New York back in 2014 — and they’ve come a long way since the product was essentially a bright idea seven years ago. These days, it’s an operating company with many successes under its belt. And with newly announced partnerships with Skullcandy, Clear and Beyerdynamic, the technology is about to be available to a lot of ears near you.

“Skullcandy is dedicated to creating accessible products with meaningful technology for our fans. Personally tuned with Mimi and supporting healthy listening habits will have a positive, lifelong impact on the enjoyment and well-being of our fans,” said Skullcandy. CEO Jason Hodel said. “The partnership with Mimi is a wonderful example of this core mission coming to life.”

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“We are thrilled to introduce Mimi Sound personalization to our latest earphones and headphones, available through the Clear+ app,” said Patrick Huang, President of Clear Audio. “Incorporating hearing optimization and wellness features into our products will certainly bring added value to our products and customers.”

How does this work?

“The hearing system has frequency resolution. You can think of it like the pixels on the screen. You have a high pixel count if you have good hearing, but still, if two different bits mix into one pixel, you can’t get a higher pixel count.” And key information is about to dominate. This is the basis of MP3s: because of the limited resolution of a healthy ear, we can throw away tons of this information and get these huge cuts in file size,” says Nick Clark. , Co-Founder and Head of R&D at Mimi. “The unique piece of knowledge with which Mimi rolls is we have different profiles. So if someone’s hearing is a little worse, you can compare them to people with bigger pixels—they have fewer pixels.” .and there’s nothing mm you can do about that pixel count as it relates to the actual hearing of the person. What we can do is we process the sound to fit it a little better We can selectively increase something, and selectively decrease something else to get as much information as possible. If you do this you give someone a richer experience. “

It’s hardly the most interesting illustration I’ve ever added to a review, but it’s fascinating to see the data that Mimi captures about my hearing. From the app, you can request a CSV export. The captured data seems to mostly cover at which point I start the frequency and volume level and stop hearing the beeping sound.

I had the chance to try out Mimi’s technique on three different devices; $99 of Skullcandy grind fuel true wireless earbuds$130 of Clear Audio Ally Plus II Wireless Earbuds and Beyerdynamic’s $300 Lagoon ANC Headphones, The setup process is pretty much the same on all three devices: You download the respective manufacturer’s app, then go through the process to create a listening profile.

Building a profile is pretty straightforward; Give it your birth year, and you’re ready to start testing. The hearing test itself is pretty strange – it’s as if they locked a bunch of electronic crickets into a box, and then played a beeping sound on top. The beeping subsides, and when you can hear the sound, you hold down a button. This reduces the beeping sound back down, and lets you go when you can’t hear the beeping. The beeping occurs at different frequencies, and the app uses your input to create a personalized profile. Once you have your profile, you can create and save a Mimi account – meaning you can use your personal profile on any device that supports Mimi’s technology. Pretty neat, and means you don’t need to be too familiar with box’cricket sound – it’s not exactly a pleasant noise.

My personalization results from the Clear app (left) were significantly different from those from the Skullcandy app (middle and right). The two Skullcandy results were almost identical, indicating that there is at least a minimum of uniformity between the measurements. Image: Screenshot.

The hearing test component of this product is wildly successful and in widespread use. The Company’s No. 1 Hearing Test App in the App Store, and the company claims that every month about 50,000 people are testing their hearing using its app. From reviews of the app, it seems as though users are finding that the tests are in line with professional hearing tests.

“The same technology as our hearing test app is available as an SDK that our partners can build into their companion app,” explains Mimi CEO Philipp Scribanowitz.

The magic in Mimi is applying the results of the hearing test to an individual profile, and then driving it as a signal processor as possible to the user’s ears.

,[Our software] Can be anywhere from which digital audio passes. After we’ve created your Hearing ID, you need to somehow transfer it to a processing algorithm to adjust the audio stream before it reaches your ears,” explains Scribanowitz. “We have a number of components and processing algorithms. Huh. On headphones, they run on the bluetooth chip, on the TV they run on the audio chip. But we also have partners in public broadcast testing and streaming applications, along with scientific and smartphone partners.”

Does it improve the listening experience?

The question is: does it work? Unfortunately, it’s a little hard to tell, and it varies a lot on the devices I’ve tried.

I tested the Mimi hearing test with three different products, with wildly varying results. From left to right: Skullcandy’s Grind Fuel, Beyerdynamic’s Lagoon ANC, and Clear’s Ally Plus II. Photo: Haje Camp for Nerdshala

There was a curiosity in the earbuds whenever they were on and clear in my ears, even when there was no audio playing. While I was playing music, I couldn’t really tell the difference between the sound when my personalization was on or off. On the bright side, I was able to use the Clear earbuds to create a profile and a Mimi account, all while saving my profile. This means that, in theory, I might be able to use it on other devices.

I spoke to the president of Clear, who assured me that the hissing/humming noise is extremely unusual. They sent me another set of earbuds, but unfortunately, this set of earbuds had the same problem. It’s possible that I just got exceptionally unlucky, but it’s more likely that the company has some work to do before the earbuds are ready for public consumption.

Skullcandy was also running poorly – the Skullcandy app kept crashing every time I set up voice personalization, failing to save my results each time. I couldn’t hear the personalization in action. For some reason, Skullcandy didn’t have the option to log into Mimi and use my saved Mimi profile – I had to create a new one. Failing to save my profile between apps, and not being able to use a Mimi profile I created on another device, meant I was never able to hear individual audio on the Skullcandy earbuds. I spoke to Skullcandy’s chief product officer about the app’s problems.

“Skullcandy takes the quality of our products very seriously. The Skullcandy mobile app was rigorously tested using a variety of combinations of mobile devices and operating systems available at the time,” said Jeff Hutchings, chief product officer at Skullcandy. “Since that time, we have found that some users are experiencing issues with the brand new Pixel 6/6 Pro running Android 12. Skullcandy is actively working on an updated release to resolve this issue as soon as possible.”

Beyerdynamic Lagoon ANC Headphones. Photo: Haje Camp for Nerdshala

On the Beyerdynamic Lagoon ANC headphones, it was a very different story. Of course, this is a different type of headphone; Over-ears, and with a much higher beef price tag. With Beyerdynamic headphones, at least, personalization made a significant difference. The Mimi’s personalization sounds quite different on these headphones, especially when active noise cancellation is on. The sound sounds more crisp, and I could hear more detail in the music than at the time when personalization was turned off. The music seems to be … more in stereo, somehow? It’s pretty hard to explain, but it’s such a fine difference that I can be sure that all of my headphones have Mimi integration in the future.

Of course, it made me wonder why there wasn’t that much of a difference between the Clear and Skullcandy earbuds. I was wondering if I can use a profile created with Beyerdynamic headphones, and use them on others? It doesn’t appear that Skullcandy’s app lets me log into Mimi’s account, so it didn’t work. There was no way for ClearApp to load the other profile after I had already created one profile. In the end, I had to delete the Clear app from my phone, reinstall it, and then log back into my Mimi account. I appreciate that a lot of users won’t have the exact use case I’m describing here, but it’s very frustrating not being able to copy a profile that’s already on the mm server, when it This is one of the use cases Mimi’s founders are excited about.

With the Beyerdynamic profile copying the kerfuffle aside, I could detect a difference on the Clear earphones: The sound sounds like the stereo channels are better separated (not unlike the “more sound in stereo” version) described above. ), but I would not say that, overall, there was a dramatic difference. It’s definitely not “Wow, that’s cool!” I had a reaction with the Beyerdynamic headphones. And there’s nothing quite like my experience with the most obvious competitor in this space – the Nuraphone.

It would be strange not to compare all of these headphones to the Nuraphone headphones. They cost a lot — $399 — but they take a different approach to how you measure your hearing: Instead of burdening you with figuring out when you can and can’t hear vocals, Headphones actually measure directly to your ears, The downside of this approach is that it only works in very specific headphones, and the profiles aren’t transferable to non-Nura headphones. The result is spectacular, though—and even five years after I bought them, Nura’s NuraFone headphones are my go-to for immersive music experiences.

Overall, it is exciting for the Mimi team to forge these partnerships and bring their technology into the hands of the people.

After all, that’s the challenge with personalization tech reviews: I can only review how these headphones land on me personally, and maybe my hearing is uniquely good or bad, which makes Mimi’s tech less of an issue for me. makes it useful. You may have different results. For me, on high-end headphones, it makes a world of difference, and I’ll definitely be looking for Mimi’s technology in the next set of high-end headphones I buy. for earbuds; Well; I only have a small sample size, where it didn’t work at all on one set of earbuds, and it was overwhelming on the other. Overall, it doesn’t really sound worth it to me, but then again, if the Mimi technology doesn’t increase the price of the headphones, or reduce audio quality in other ways, I really can’t even see the harm.

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