Journey into Designing World class Headphones

Audeze

Sankar Thiagasamudram – CEO of Audeze, the award winning headphone company based in California. Audeze is known for some of the worlds best headphones.  It has brought an amazing amount of new technologies to the market in 2021: a completely new type of magnet, new diaphragm materials, and Lightning connector equipped headphones.

Audeze has won many awards including Best Headphones of CES 2016, the new Sine headphones  has brought the audiophile sound to the masses with nothing more than the phone in your pocket. The Audeze CRBN is a project which would touch lives in a meaningful way, it would to improve patient comfort during an MRI, and to support neuroscience research.

Very excited to taalk to Sankar on his entrepreneurial Journey driven by design.

What ignited the spark in you to startup Audeze ?
I have always been interested in Entrepreneurship. While volunteering for a charity (Sankara Eye Foundation – www.giftofvision.org) I met one of the other founders. We quickly realized there is a potential for our new technology in speakers. Having been a big A.R. Rahman fan helped.

What is so unique about Audeze that makes it a Professional Choice ?
Unlike conventional headphones, we use Planar Magnetic technology. This is a dramatic departure from traditional dynamic driver designs. Most headphones use traditional cone drivers to create the sound you hear. Audeze headphones feature proprietary planar magnetic technology that employs extremely thin-film driver materials and powerful custom magnets. Planars overcome many limitations inherent in typical cone drivers. Audeze lightweight diaphragms are, for example, faster and more responsive than heavier moving-coil or dome drivers.   The accuracy that Audeze headphones are capable of delivering made us the choice of headphones for Professionals. However, our market is not just limited to Audiophiles or Professionals. Many mainstream customers who care about good sound quality use our headphones.

Design Challenges when making it for Audiophiles ?
Design challenges are not just limited to Audiophile market. When we design any product, the sound quality is our north star. Everything else follows it. We want our customers to feel as if they are in the studio listening to music. Making our headphones light weight without losing the sound signature and efficiency is the most challenging. We have invented new type of magnets and working with BMW DesignWorks to streamline our design language has helped overcome most of these.

Can you tell us more about your recent Audeze CRBN Electrostatic headphones?
Once in a while you get to work on a project that can make an impact in a meaningful way. The Audeze CRBN is a project we started in 2016.

If you have ever had an MRI, you will realize how uncomfortable they are. (If you have never had an MRI, see how it sounds here). The team at Audeze is super proud to introduce some new ground breaking headphones (with patented Carbon nanotubes film) to improve patient comfort, and to support neuroscience research. We worked with Mark Cohen Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles and Tylor Garland and his team at SMRTimage to create the best Noise cancelling headphones for MRI devices. It improves patient comfort and allows for patient doctor research in a significant way.

During this process, we also created perhaps one of the best sounding headphones. So we made two models, one for MRI and one for Audiophiles/Sound Engineers/Musicians etc. Incredibly proud of the team at Audeze that pulled this off. The amount of engineering that went into this headphone is incredible.

Your Audio-tech Predictions for the future ?
Speakers will get smarter. We will see more speakers / devices connected to internet (IOT) and leverage voice, gesture controls etc. A good example of this is the Amazon Echo. For headphones, we will see more digital connections. USB-C and Lightning allow headphones to have bi-directional communication. Sensors in the headphone can communicate with smart phones.  Audeze just introduced a headphone with fully integrated lighting connection. I expect more vendors to follow suit.

What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful design-entrepreneur(Designpreneur)?
Audeze