Personalised sound

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In sound technology, personalised sound refers to a range of technologies that customise an audio device's sound output to match the listener's hearing sensitivities or their environment.[1]

Personalised sound technology is used in headphones, smart speakers, mobile apps and other consumer electronics.[2]

Types of personalised sound technologies   [edit]

Different personalised sound technologies use different scientific principles to customise sound[3] and can be categorised according to two main parameters:

  • subjective measurement vs. objective measurement
  • accounting for a subset of the listener's hearing or their environment vs. accounting for the listener's full hearing system.

Subjective tests, which are a part and parcel of every clinical Audiometry procedure specifically used to determine a person's hearing, require the listener to give feedback based on what they perceive. A common type of subjective hearing test requires the user to push a button if they can hear a tone that is played at a particular frequency and amplitude.[4]

On the other hand, objective measurements automatically measure one or more feedback signals and do not require any input from the user.[4]

Some personalised sound technologies measure a subset of the user's hearing, such as the acoustics of the user's outer ear (primarily the ear canal),[5] whereas other technologies offer a full hearing measurement (measuring hearing through the outer, middle and inner ear).[3][6]   

Several reviewers have noted that these different technologies vary in accuracy and usability.[7][8][9]   

Subjective, full hearing measurement[edit]

Historically, hearing aids were used to enable people with hearing loss to understand speech better by measuring their hearing and adjusting devices based on an Audiogram.[4] However, recent developments in the field are enabling listeners with even mild to moderate hearing loss, who do not necessarily need hearing aids, to substantially improve their enjoyment of music and sound, in addition to better speech recognition. The OTC hearing Aid act is a reflection of these developments and is poised to substantially transform this field.

New devices for personalising music listening have been introduced that employ subjective, full hearing tests.[10][11][12]

Other examples of products that offer subjective personalised sound are headphones by EVEN[11] and Audeara,[13] which provides a subjective hearing tests that take between 90 seconds and 15 minutes to complete and[14] the Aumeo Headphone Personaliser dongle that can be connected to most media players and provides a two-minute subjective hearing test.[15] The Mimi[1] mobile app allows the user to undergo a six-minute subjective hearing test and the app then adjusts the mobile device's audio output based on the test results.

Objective, full hearing measurement  [edit]

Personalised sound technologies with objective, full hearing measurement[16] claim to analyse the user's full hearing without the user manually responding to testing tones.[17]  

The Nuraphone by Nura and are the only available consumer product that performs an objective measurement of the listener's full hearing system in order to enhance the music listening experience, primarily targeting listeners with normal hearing.[18][19] The Nuraphone's proprietary technology automatically monitors otoacoustic emissions to measure the user's hearing in 1–2 minutes.[20] The Nuraphone adapts its frequency response based on the user's hearing, allowing the user to hear more detail when listening to music.[21]

Objective, subset hearing measurement[edit]

There are several products that provide personalised sound by measuring some acoustic properties of the user's environment without actually measuring their hearing.[5][22]

As an example, the AKG N90Q headphones measure the acoustics of the user's outer ear. The headphones then adjust their EQ based on the measurements.[23]

The Sonos Play:5 smart speaker personalises sound based on the acoustics of the room where the speaker is placed. The Sonos Play:5 measures the room's acoustics by playing testing tones, while the user's phone detects how these tones sound, and the speaker's EQ is adjusted.


  1. ^ a b Klitzing, Tim von (2016-11-16). ""Earprint" or the introduction to personalized sound". Medium. Retrieved 2018-12-14.
  2. ^ Klitzing, Tim von (2016-11-16). ""Earprint" or the introduction to personalized sound". Medium. Retrieved 2018-12-16.
  3. ^ a b Haslam, Chris (2017-12-22). "These AI headphones create a custom sound profile for your ears". Wired UK. ISSN 1357-0978. Retrieved 2018-12-14.
  4. ^ a b c Services, Department of Health & Human. "Hearing tests". Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  5. ^ a b "N90Q | Reference class auto-calibrating noise cancelling headphones". Retrieved 2018-12-14.
  6. ^ "Nura: Headphones that learn and adapt to your unique hearing". Kickstarter. Retrieved 2018-12-14.
  7. ^ "These Headphones Offer Perfect Personalised Sound, But I'm Not Convinced". Gizmodo Australia. 2018-09-25. Retrieved 2018-12-16.
  8. ^ Haslam, Chris (2017-12-22). "These AI headphones create a custom sound profile for your ears". Wired UK. ISSN 1357-0978. Retrieved 2018-12-16.
  9. ^ "The Even headphones make you feel better about your poor hearing". Engadget. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  10. ^ "Audeara". Audeara. Retrieved 2018-12-17.
  11. ^ a b "EVEN | Glasses for your ears | NYC". EVEN | Glasses for your ears | NYC. Retrieved 2018-12-17.
  12. ^ "AUMEO". AUMEO. Retrieved 2018-12-17.
  13. ^ "Audeara". Audeara. Retrieved 2018-12-14.
  14. ^ Leger 2018-06-18T15:47:21.168ZHeadsets, Henry St; headphones. "Audeara A-01 review". TechRadar. Retrieved 2018-12-14.
  15. ^ "Aumeo, Headphones Personalizer". Aumeo Audio. Retrieved 2018-12-17.
  16. ^ Services, Department of Health & Human. "Hearing tests". Retrieved 2018-12-14.
  17. ^ Bailey, Abram (2016-07-04). "Nura Claims Its Headphones "Automatically Measure Your Hearing"". Hearing Aid News. Retrieved 2018-12-14.
  18. ^ Cohen, Simon. "Editor". Digital Trends. Digital Trends. Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  19. ^ Bailey, Abram (2016-07-04). "Nura Claims Its Headphones "Automatically Measure Your Hearing"". Hearing Aid News. Retrieved 2018-12-17.
  20. ^ "Nuraphone review: Noise-cancelling headphones with a personal touch". The Independent. 2018-07-17. Retrieved 2018-12-14.
  21. ^ "Nuraphones' custom profiles bring out new detail in familiar songs". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2018-12-16.
  22. ^ Insider, Antonio Villas-Boas, Business. "These headphones measure your ears on the fly to create realistic surround sound — and the results are amazing". Business Insider. Retrieved 2018-12-14.
  23. ^ "CES 2017: AKG N90Q Auto-Calibrating Noise Canceling Headphones". InnerFidelity. 2017-01-16. Retrieved 2018-12-14.