Music as an experience is very personal, and what better embodiment of this fact could there be than a pair of cans? But for some people things aren't truly personal unless they are wholly made to order, or, at the very least, vastly customizable. New York-based startup Axel Audio is banking on this very crowd, especially the subset that listens to music and buys its headphones from Kickstarter.
Axel Audio is currently conducting a Kickstarter campaign to fund the production of a pair of modular headphones. The company says each unit will be shipped in a semi knocked-down state, the kit containing a detachable headband, cable and three headband inserts, as well as the buyer's choice of drivers. And, of course, there will also be a simple building guide.
Why this matters : Modular headphones are nothing new, but they mostly allow for superficial customizations. The only other company we know of that delivers anywhere near this level of personalization is Myth Labs, which has allowed its customers to mix and match speakers and headbands since 2011. All said, if customization is the only yardstick then these Axel headphones are in a league of their own.
The company is offering three different 40mm neodymium drivers--Pure, Deep, and Core--each designed to match your taste in music. Deep is ideal for hip-hop, dance, and electronic genres; Pure for ambient, jazz, classical, and folk; and Core for contemporary, pop, and rock. To make things easier, Axel has a Spotify-powered web application that can recommend the driver that best suits your musical preferences. Per the company, the app relies on more than 1,200 genre tags and advanced music algorithms from The Echo Nest to come up with its suggestions.
The other serious decision confronting would-be buyers is whether to go for on-ear or over-ear cups. According to the company, the on-ear cups are for those who want something compact, whereas the cirumaural variety is designed to deliver a "more spacious sound-stage, in addition to improved isolation." It's ultimately a matter of personal preference.
Available in black or white, the on-ear headphone set is going for $125. The over-ear headphone set is dearer at $149 and only available in black. Each set comes with only one driver set, but the company eventually plans to sell Soundscapes as add-ons.
Axel has so far raised a little more $100,000 of its $180,000 funding goal. It has until June 2, 2015 to raise the remaining amount.