Even with our favorite pair of headphones, discomfort is always a problem. Sometimes the headband isn’t flexible enough, which is compounded by the pressure already put on the ears by the earcups. No matter how much padding is used, headphones will always pinch the ears against the head to some extent, causing discomfort sooner or later. Well, we might finally have our solution, and it’s from a newcomer in the headphone market. The Vie Shair are no-pinch, no-pain headphones, and they’re backing that up with some serious audio quality and a terrific price to boot.
The Vie Shair eliminate pain by, funny enough, doing away with padding altogether. Instead, they use a hard plastic frame that sits around the ear and is held into place by making contact with the head, not the ear. Because no pressure is being applied on the ear, that pinching feeling goes away completely — if there’s any discomfort from using these headphones, it’ll be from listening to music for too long.
While the pain-free construction is the killer app for the Vie Shair, it turns out these headphones have a lot else going for them. The headphones actually come with two plastic frames — an open one that allows in more background noise and a closed one that blocks noise from getting in or out. On top of that, they’re Bluetooth headphones, and they use that connectivity in more ways than just getting tunes from your phone. When in on-air mode, the headphones can open up a Bluetooth connection to an unlimited number of other Vie Shair headphones within a 100-ft range. You can have your headphones broadcast music to whoever wants to tune in, or receive a broadcast from someone else. Granted, it’s a feature that requires other people to share your taste in headphones, which is a tough ask, but it’s a cool feature nonetheless.
The sound quality is also pretty impressive. The Vie Shair are one of the few headphones we’ve seen that use planar magnetic speakers, which use a diaphragm film suspended between magnets to produce sound. Usually, we see dynamic speakers with cones fastened to their cabinets — that partial immobility leads to some distortion that planar magnetic speakers are free from. It also allows the drivers to be bigger — the ones in question are 60 mm, which is pretty huge for headphones. The Vie Shair use an audio module from Yamaha, which was one of the first companies to start using planar magnetic technology decades ago. Usually, we only see this kind of technology on very high-end headphones, so it’s exciting to see them on something affordable.
The Vie Shair can also be connected to a smartphone app, which can control the decorative LED lights found around the frame of the headphones. The app also has adjustable EQ settings, so you can create your own preferred sound signature.
The only thing that worries us at this point is that the Vie Shair are a Kickstarter project. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but we always get skittish when we see someone promising a dream slate of features for a price that seems far too low. The eventual full retail price of $400 isn’t cheap, but it’s a lot less than we’d expect for the kind of technology in use here. On top of that, the early bed specials will make these headphones available for $200 and $300, which seems too good to be true. But, we’ve had a hands-on, ears-on (off?) demo with the Vie Shair, and they sure seem like the real deal. If nothing else, we know the team has a working model that looks to be the final production model, which is always reassuring when taking the plunge with a crowdfunded project.
The Vie Shair Kickstarter campaign goes live today. The headphones are available in black, white, pink, blue, or yellow, and have a really cool, flattened look on the outside that distinguishes them from other headphones on the market. They’ll stand out, and in a world where headphones have become fashion statements and audio products in equal measure, that can’t be understated. The fact that the audio quality keeps up without inflicting pain on the wearer makes these headphones impossible to ignore.