Audeara A-01 headphone review: These ANC cans promise to compensate for your hearing deficits

Headphones with active noise cancelling (ANC) are nothing new. They include microphones that sample the ambient noise around you and then reproduce that sound after shifting its phase by 180 degrees and mixing it with the original. The two out-of-phase sounds cancel each other out, reducing the level that reaches your ears. This works best on steady-state, low-frequency sounds, such as the constant din of engines inside an airplane.

The Audeara A-01 is just such a headphone, and it offers a very interesting additional benefit—custom equalization tailored to your specific hearing profile. It’s a brilliant idea, and it works fairly well, at least with ANC turned on.

Features

The Audeara A-01 is a circumaural (over-ear) headphone that features active noise cancelling. In addition, the built-in microphone used for ANC also lets you talk on a connected phone via the headphones.

Each closed-back earcup includes a 40mm Mylar driver, and the specified frequency response extends from 20Hz to 20kHz (no tolerance given). The 3.5mm audio input presents an impedance of 32 ohms.

Audeara

The power switch is at the bottom of the left earcup. Below it is a 3.5mm analog-audio input, while the central button above it controls play/pause, skip forward/back, answer/hang up phone call, and Bluetooth pairing; the flanking buttons increase and decrease the volume. The ANC on/off switch is at the bottom of the right earcup, along with the micro USB port (not seen here) for charging the battery.

The primary input, however, is Bluetooth—in this case, version 4.2. It supports the SBC, aptX, and cVc codecs and the A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, and HSP profiles. Audeara is working on adding the aptX LL and HD codecs (low latency and high definition respectively), which will be rolled out in a firmware update.

All of that is fairly standard fare for ANC Bluetooth headphones. But the A-01 also offers one unique feature. The companion Audeara app, which is freely available for Android and iOS devices, measures your individual hearing profile and uses it to program the headphones with an equalization curve tailored to that profile. Theoretically, this lets you hear more of the music without having to turn it up. You can even store multiple profiles for your family and friends. How cool is that?

audeara a 01 app2 Scott Wilkinson / IDG

The hearing test consists of setting the barely audible level of repeating beeps at each frequency for each ear (left, center). Once you declare the test complete, the app displays your audiogram (right). Tap on “Experience Audeara” to upload your profile to the headphones.

The A-01 is powered by a rechargeable 1000mAh battery. Happily, the main power and ANC can be turned on and off independently, letting you maximize battery life. With ANC only—and using the 3.5mm input—the battery is specified to last up to 65 hours. If you also activate Bluetooth and the Audeara EQ by turning on the main power, the battery should last up to 35 hours. Turning off ANC while keeping the main power on increases the battery life up to 45 hours.

The included charging cable plugs into a microUSB port at the bottom of the right earcup. It takes about six hours to fully charge the battery from a completely drained state.