At first look, the Here One appears no different from other true-wireless earphones. But please read on so that you can be enlightened about the technology that makes Here One a unique audio product that will revolutionalise the way we listen in the urban jungle.
To cut to the chase, Here One is capable of adjusting to the ambient sounds you want to hear. With this simple statement, there are numerous capabilities that Here One offers:
Smart Noise Filters
Through the app, select the noise profile that lets you tune into sounds you want to hear and reduce the sounds you don’t. For instance, cancel low humming engine noise but still hear the flight attendant, eliminate restaurant noise except with the people around your table.
Adjust the ambient noise up or down, I can practically achieve superhero listening capabilities, eavesdrop on others unknowingly, or simply eliminate them altogether, like normal ANC headphones.
A trademark by Doppler Labs, all the ambient sounds you tune is blended with the streaming audio from your Bluetooth device. Here One is intelligent to attenuate the ambient sounds slightly when you increase the music volume.
You can adjust the 5-band EQ manually through this option instead of choosing one of the preset sound filter. With this, you really appreciate the type of urban noises that we live in, and how a simple tweak can cut off some of the sounds that we almost second nature to us.
If you need to bypass the noise filter, just tap the earbud once and Here One will pause music and enable general ambient noise through the earbuds so that you can hold a conversation immediately without removing the earbuds.
Design and Fit
The Here Buds are relatively small, compared to Bragi, and the buds are angled ergonomically to achieve a good fit yet do not droop out of the ears. The buds have enough battery for about 2 hours of use and the charging case allows charging up to 3 times. The case only starts charging when you snap shut the case, and the wakes up the buds once the case is opened.
Here One incorporates NFMI technology to improve on the the audio sync when watching videos. When watching YouTube videos, the audio is quite in sync with the video.
The audio quality is one of the best for true wireless earbuds. I enjoy its delivery of clarity, space, dynamics and tone. Here One does not skew towards any of the frequencies, but achieves good bass depth, treble accuity, mid warmth, that makes the tracks sound musical. The audio quality does not seem to be affected by the live audio mix, which is great.
The ability to customise the noise filter is intriguing at first. Being a reviewer, I experimented the various filters and appreciated the ability to choose the various noise-cancelling modes. For users with phobia of absolute silence, the Here One allows them to let in specific frequencies, like the low humming environmental noises. Or to open up a bit of the crowd noises so that they can be slightly aware of the surroundings. The volume level of the live sounds can be adjusted, offering unlimited ways to experience music streaming while having a sense of the real world sounds. Under situations like waiting for your queue number to be called, I can adjust the noise filter to let me hear the queue system while eliminating the ambient chatter. With other normal earphones, I usually wear only one side of the earbuds.
For the noise filters that remove background noise except the people speaking close to you, while it does work, the earbuds did not pick up my own voice, so I could not hear myself clearly and had to speak louder. Some noise filters pick up wind noise very easily so it is almost unusable while walking or on a breezy day.
Also, the erratic nature of mic pickup and signal processing means there may be instances that the conversation could not be accurately delivered. For that, I felt that Here One is a great technological demonstration of the capabilities to come as a hearing aid, in every sense of the word. It could allow users with hearing impairment or with deficiencies to compensate any aural frequency that could impede their lifestyle.
The other inconvenience is that you need to use the smartphone app to select the noise filters or switch to live mix mode. Whenever I wear the earbuds, I need to open the app to select another filter if the current one does not suit the condition.
While the fidelity of the ambient noise audio is rather good, it still sounds processed and as natural as direct sound to the ears. For me, the only noise filter mode I eventually felt most comfortable is the Office mode where it goes into full ANC mode.
Finally, Here One might not work seamlessly with some smartphones. I tested on Samsung Galaxy S8 with no problems, but the Huawei P10 Plus seem to have problems connecting to the Here One app, while the Bluetooth audio streaming is unaffected. Like many advanced true wireless earbuds, there are multiple Bluetooth protocols connecting to the device.
The Here One earbuds offer audio technologies that customise the way users hear things. It achieves a balance between the desire for personal audio enjoyment and the need to be aware of the surroundings. While the traditional active noise cancelling processors in major headphones are too binary in their offering, Here One is the earbuds for the other spectrum of users. The battery life of 2 hours is very restrictive and I hope Doppler Labs could manufacture the equivalent of a normal wireless in-ear or on-ear headphones so that users can enjoy this useful audio technology. The manufacturer is also beta-testing the ability to translate languages in real time, which is slowly becoming a reality.
If you love the idea of tweaking the ambient noises instead of complete elimination of all noises, you should try the Here One. It retails in Singapore at S$459, distributed exclusively by Leader Radio Technologies (LRT).
Photos shot in lightbox by Whitebox Technologies. Read review here.