Hands-on: Psyko Audio Labs 5.1 Headphones

DSC00412Everything is always better in surround sound. Most 5.1 or 7.1 headphones are a convoluted mess of speaker drivers, usually resulting in massive ear cups. But these headphones from Psyko Audio Labs have a rather innovative way to trick you into thinking sounds are coming from all directions.

First, the science. The primary method your brain places sounds is based on the time discrepancy of the sound arriving to your ears. If you hear a sound off to your right, the sound waves from that source will hit your right ear milliseconds before your left one. Based on the length of time it takes for your brain to register the sound in the “far” ear, you can place where the sound is coming from.

The 5 drivers are located on the headband, aimed upwards. They feed the sound into hollow channels, which lead to the ear cups. There are two such sound channels, one for the front and one for the back. It truly is a brilliant, innovative system. A sound that is supposed to be coming from your left, will be emitted from the driver closer to your left ear. It has a shorter path to travel, meaning the sound will reach your left ear first, creating the directional illusion. Since there are no speakers around your ears, the acrylic shield on the cup can fold open, letting your ears breathe. Even though you already have other organs for that.


The unit proved its worth in our hands-on demo. A quick run through Crysis showed the technology really does work. These headphones seamlessly deliver surround sound, and with much less hassle / setup of a traditional 5.1 speaker system. Since its completely physics based, there’s no digital processing to slow the signal down. I give these a thumbs-up, and if you have $300 to spend, I highly recommend it.

[Psyko Audio Labs]