HeadRoom Audio Cosmic Headphone Prototype Update


November 11, 2016 6 Comments

We're building our first headphone, the HeadRoom Cosmic planar magnetic audiophile headphone. Below is a quick pictorial tour to get you up to speed on our progress. If a picture is worth a thousand words, the text for this post would be TL;DR.

We began designing the HeadRoom Cosmic headphone over three years ago naively thinking we could simply do everything ourselves. After purchasing an Afinia 3D printer, we immediately got to work on our first prototypes using dynamic driver transducers.

First HeadRoom Audio Cosmic Headphone Prototye

 

It's always critical to have an objective outside evaluation. During a trip to the RMAF event in Denver, we had our first prototypes measured by the expert folks at Audio Precision. Results showed our headphone was functioning but we had a lot of work to do. It quickly became apparent a dynamic driver design was not going to meet our needs.

HeadRoom Cosmic Prototype being tested on G.R.A.S. Head and Torso Simulator

 

As we researched various sources for super high-quality planar magnetic drivers, we knew we also had to work on our Industrial Design as well as the sound. These are the very first sketches we generated from our initial round of cosmetic concept & design.

First sketches of new Industrial Design

 

After numerous revisions we settled on the general design conception below and began building a whole bunch of prototypes. Next, we traveled to our selected planar driver manufacturer to begin work validating the audio design and solidity of the preliminary mechanical engineering. We also started the initial acoustic tuning process.First Industrial Design for HeadRoom Cosmic Headphone

 

We made several different sets of HeadRoom Audio Cosmic headphone prototypes. In the process of tuning the acoustics, we realized we had a bit too much air volume in the ear cup since our original prototypes were conceived for a dynamic driver installation. So we carefully lined the cups with a putty material to take up volume and ended up with a great sounding headphone. The downside was it was bulky and heavy. 

Second round of 3D printed prototypes for HeadRoom Cosmic Headphone

 

We were able to pull all the big home run hitters from our vast collection of high-end headphones to put the HeadRoom Cosmic prototype to the audio comparison test. We were very pleasantly surprised at the acoustic performance but we decided it still had a little room for improvement. Yes, the sound was extremely promising but we all felt far from finished.

First functional HeadRoom Cosmic Headphone tested against competition

 

Once we determined we could physically make the headphone much slimmer, we cut off the back of the earcup, covered it with an acrylic material for the time being, and dove right back into tuning iterations. After evaluating and vouching our new earpiece cup dimensions, we printed up yet another new prototype and continued with more tuning.

HeadRoom Cosmic Headphone prototype revisions

 

Our second fully functional '3D' Cosmic headphone prototype offered a significant improvement in sound quality but now we needed to go back to the drawing board for additional rounds of fresh Industrial Design. In any event, we were really curious to see how it scientifically measured up to the competition.

Second functional HeadRoom Cosmic Headphone prototype

 

Mr.Tyll Hertsens, the Grandaddy of the Headphone Hobby, and our original company founder listens to our Cosmic headphone prototype. Tyll says they've got a really good overall tonal balance, perhaps a little splashy sounding in parts, but other than that, the Cosmic is already better than many others. Obviously, we were elated to hear his expert feedback.

Tyll Hertsens listens to the HeadRoom Cosmic Headphone

 

We choose this from eight different options for our second round of Industrial Design. It's definitely getting closer but we still have many refinements left to do. But we're pretty happy with our progress thus far.  Now, back to work on lots more tuning and mechanical engineering updates.

Second Industrial Design for HeadRoom Cosmic Headphone

After finalizing our next round of Industrial Design, we resumed prototyping. This time, we machined our ear cups out of acrylic. The 3D printed cups just weren't solid enough to allows us to move further along in the design process. The acrylic prototype proved to be a worthy effort as the sound became something that was vaguely close to what we heard in our heads. However, we still believed we had a bit of room for improvement. It was obvious we'd have to make our next proto out of real metal and tonewood before we could continue with serious acoustic tuning.

HeadRoom Cosmic Prototype #3 machined out of acrylic

 

We decided on yet another round of independent third party evaluation just to make sure we're not completely fooling ourselves. Our team wound up pretty darn happy with the initial audio performance specs but we looked forward to producing 'real ' working prototypes made of our actual materials in order to further improve and refine the Cosmic headphone sound.

Frequency Response of 3rd HeadRoom Cosmic Headphone Prototype

The metal headband prototypes are coming along quite nicely. Soon we'll have all the many various little bits and pieces to assemble our first fully functional HeadRoom Cosmic planar magnetic headphone. Hooray!

Headband prototypes coming along nicely

 

Using a locally-built desktop 5-axis CNC machine from the awesome folks over at Pocket NC, we were finally able to build our first real metal and wood prototypes. This was a very exciting moment for us but we actually only had one ear cup at this point. First HeadRoom Cosmic Headphone Prototype made of metal and wood.

 And finally, our first full pair of real wood and aluminum ear cups. If you look closely, you can see the first coat of sealant still drying. We just couldn't wait to see what they would look like. The second coat is being applied as we write this!

First pair of HeadRoom Cosmic Headphone earcups made of aluminum and wood!Rest assured, it's been your amazingly steadfast and fervent support that got us this far. We are humbled and grateful beyond words. Thank You, Friends!

Please sign up for our HeadRoom Audio newsletter below and stay tuned for our upcoming Kickstarter launch for killer early discounts with varied levels of support for the brand-new HeadRoom Audio Cosmic planar magnetic audiophile headphones.

 



6 Responses

John Franks
John Franks

November 17, 2016

At what price point are you aiming? Further, I’d love to evaluate these headphones in my lab.I have KEMAR along with associated hardware and software, plus I have a set of ears very experience to listening. I could give you a separate set of measurements plus observations, I listen to mostly acoustic music: jazz, vocals, classical, and pipe organ. d

Michael Leonard
Michael Leonard

November 13, 2016

Those look really great. But at $1,000 it would be out of my price range,sadly.

Steven Simpson
Steven Simpson

November 12, 2016

I’m not an audio geek or a design maven, but I do love listening, and I think this is a fascinating story. Thanks for sharing it with us. I signed up for the HeadRoom KickStarter campaign for the standard headphone amp, and I’m really happy with it. Looking forward to pairing it with the new headphones! Thanks for sharing the process. We don’t normally get that inside look at the process. Although the story would not be so interesting without the final product, I enjoy seeing some of the steps and the thought process, and it only makes me more eager to hear them.

tommy klender
tommy klender

November 11, 2016

keep it up!

Peter Swartz
Peter Swartz

November 11, 2016

I spoke with Mike about the price and they are hoping for about 1k, but it could go up a bit depending on the final design and costs involved. He said that they feel it’s already only a tad behind the LCD 4 in SQ and if so, THIS is the one to get. I’m not surprised and will be in the first batch of folks to purchase these as I’ve done business with these guys since their first days and have loved all of THEIR own products. I’m sure this will be killer. Can’t wait.

Phillip Marcus
Phillip Marcus

November 11, 2016

What price point are you aiming at?

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