An introduction: geeking out for audio.
Okay, let’s start with the punchline: I’m a geek. And not just any geek; I’m an audio geek. I’ve spent some time trying to pinpoint when it happened to me. As a child, I was an engineer long before choosing a college major. As soon as I could wield a screwdriver, I was disassembling all sorts of things around the house to understand how they worked. My bewildered parents indulged my curiosities and these endeavors were incredibly satisfying to me. Today, I’m the Leonard Hoffstader (Big Bang Theory) of Pinna Labs. And I’m the engineer who created our safe headphones for kids and adults.
I’ve always had a thing for audio; it’s my life’s passion and in this blog I’ll be writing about all things audio. So let’s dive into music, audio technology, and hearing health. Yes, a focus on hearing health has shaped our unique approach to building safe audio hardware at Pinna Labs.
In these first few blog posts, I want to talk about how we engineered our headphones, the Pinna Loma and Pinna Laguna, because it’s very cool. Maybe you think engineering and cool don’t belong in the same sentence, but read on before you decide.
First, we combed the market for products that protect your hearing health. We looked at retail products and manufacturer’s offerings. What we found was just unfortunate. All the products in the market are sized and built for kids. It’s a sea of cheap, colorful plastic with a sprinkling of kid’s favorite characters. They are not comfortable and sound terrible.
Why the cheap plastics & uncomfortable earpads? Why the muddy bass and terrible frequency response? The best I can tell, they’re just trying to hit a price point below $20. They’re just for kids, after all. Kids that are learning languages through these headphones, kids that are taking school lessons on these headphones, and yes, kids that are struggling to understand dialogue or lyrics despite the poor frequency response. More on that subject in a future post.
Oh, and adult offerings? Zero.
Which begs the question: are adult ears not susceptible to Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL)? Of course they are vulnerable! Hearing health is a life-long endeavor and a safe adult headphone would be a welcome offering.
All in all, our market survey convinced us that a set of truly well designed, comfortable and safe headphones for kids and adults is what we need to build. Our target user: our own families. I would not consider offering a product that would not meet the quality and safety requirements of my own loved ones.
More design talk next time.
About the Author:
Jason Wehner is a cofounder of Pinna Labs. He’s a mechanical engineer who says he learned the cross-disciplinary ropes of audio engineering at the “University of Harman” during his first years on the job. A highly creative and versatile engineer and global product manager, Jason has over twenty years of experience in audio consumer electronic products. He has launched innovative products under the brands JBL, Infinity, Memorex, TDK, and Vizio.