When it comes to virtual reality, the first thing that pops in people’s minds are headsets and with motion controls. The portrayal of virtual reality has always been geared more towards of what you can see, with big emphasis on graphics and being able to interact with a tap of a finger. The one most neglected sense in the virtual reality business has been the extremely important sense of sound. You may be able to put on any pair of headphones and hear sounds of the media you’re hearing, but why put money into a car if you’re going to keep the stereo stock? When it comes to virtual reality I don’t want my experience to not be all encompassing, I should be able to not only see virtual reality but be able to close my eye and hear it. This is where Skullcandy‘s new Crusher VRA headphones come into play.
You should be familiar with Skullcandy as they’re been around since 2003 and been one of the leading manufactures of headphones, both wired and wireless. If you watch any extreme sports the iconic half skull logo can be seen on skateboards, bikes and even snowboards. They have found themselves in the cross-traffic of sports, music and even technology with their involvement in gaming headphones. They have now chosen to evolve the next iteration of their Crusher headphones and do full virtual reality audio.
These headphones were taken to CES early this year where they were well received, but during this past weekend’s Virtual Reality Los Angeles I was able to get some hands on time with them as well. During VRLA I was able to stop one of the Skullcandy representatives and ask them to demo one of these headsets, which they gladly did. I put on a headset and a pair of these Crusher VRA headphones and was taken to a virtual plain with galaxies all around me. While pointing the recital at individual galaxies and tapping the side of the headset I was wearing, I was able to create sounds and then as I turned my head around the sound traveled away and left to right depending on which way I was facing. I was intrigued and had fun messing with different galaxies making music, but the real treat came when I started messing with the bass. Up above me the galaxies played melodic sounds, but on the floor a tap of the button cause a bass track to start. I could then tap and hold the side of my headset and move the bass around going left to right, then pushing and pulling it near and far from me. If you think this is the same as binaural sounds, it’s 10x better. The echos of sound were at my fingertips and if I wanted to put the bass far from my and turn it down a little, I could do so by swiping down on the left side of my headphones. I tried all the combinations available to me with turning the bass all the way down and back up, while switching on and off different melodic galaxies. I wanted to know more about this, but since we were on the floor I couldn’t take too much of the representatives time up so I made my way up to the Skullcandy room. The room was dim with pairs of the Crusher VRA headphones on display, and I asked if I could know a little more about these headphones and how was all possible.
The Crusher VRA headphones use Stereo-Haptic bass drivers, Ferrofluid-suspended coils and a unique digital signal processing that allowed me to hear what I did the way I did. Stereo Haptics are new to me, but I was told that this technology is what was able to give me the directional bass I spoke about earlier. Ferrofluid is something I was really unfamiliar with, but long story short its what delivers a broader, cleaner more responsive bass. Lastly the inclusion of Digital Signal Processing is the icing on the cake that optimizes the immersive audio experience one has when wearing these headphones.
Before I left I asked about the application I had used to experience this, and if it was proprietary to a certain headset or if any headset could use it. I was told that the application is called Audioscape and that it can be downloaded when the headset comes out and used on any headset. As far as I know this is the first virtual reality audio application, but hopefully this can be the first step in having fully immersive virtual reality audio being created by anyone in the near future.
Here are the specs I was able to get from the Skullcandy website concerning Crusher VRA headphones.
- Bluetooh Wireless w/aptX
- Up to 29 hour battery life
- VRA Immersion Tech
- Haptic Bass Response
- Pinnacle Aucustics
- Capacitive Touch VRA Control
- Memory Foam Ear Cushions
- Noise Isolating Fit
- Collapsible Design
- Built-in Microphone
- Call, Track, Volume Control
- Included Protective Case
Skullcandy’s Crusher VRA headphones are $299.99 and will be available later this year. The Audioscape will release the same day and be a free download.