back to article Boffin quests for, finds 'earphone Holy Grail'

Whenever I try to wear earphones, I spend more time attempting to fit their rubbery tips snugly in my lugs than I do untangling the ever-knotted spaghetti junction of cable. Designers have battled for years to tackle the issue, but with a "Diaphonic Lens" they may finally have the solution. These miniature balloon-tipped …


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  1. Marvin the Martian


    I'd only wear earphones in public, and in public i play stuff even i dislike JUST TO P OFF OTHERS. So what use a volume-lowering socially responsible thing like this? NONE!

    1. Thomas 4

      I admire people like you

      You help keep me employed in my audiology clinic.

  2. Lottie

    Interesting idea.

    I'm all for anything that makes it more natural sounding and helps keep my lugs healthy at the same time.

    I hereby patent the concept of personal stereo puncture repair kit :-)

  3. Anonymous IV

    Another instance of someone who should not present his own Stuff...

    I was reminded of Bob Dylan singing badly his good songs.

    Ambrose should have got someone rather more dynamic to make the video, and just used a single screen.

    Interesting concept, though!

  4. Paul_Murphy


    Bluetooth? noise-cancelling?

    What are they like on the underground?


  5. jai

    sounds promising

    although, ideally they'd be on a bluetooth unit to remove the wire, and I wonder then would there be additional power drain?

    1. Markoa
      Thumb Up


      Bluetooth sound quality is improving but it cant match a good set of wired IEMs yet. I had a play with the Jaybird Freedom Bluetooth IEMs at Gadget Show live and they are pretty awesome but I'm still a sucker for my Shure SE530s.

  6. Sam Jelfs

    but on the other hand they will make you deaf...

    Ambrose and colleagues presented a paper on these headphones at the AES 130th convention in London this weekend[1]. At the same conference they also gave a paper on the dangers of reproducing sound in a closed ear canal, and how it can cause serious damage, as well as causing timpanic membrane excursions in the order of 1000 times greater than would normally be seen[2]...

    So yes, they have created a nice piece of tech that can easily block out back ground noises (and what isn't mentioned is that the greater the background noise, the greater the inflation of the envelope, so the greater the isolation), but at the same time they have also said that blocking the ear drum is bad....

    @paul_murphy - the whole point being that you wont need noise cancellation if you can get a good enough seal in the ear canal so as to block out back ground noise... noise cancellation is for headphones or poorly isolating earphones... as to the cable, they could theoretically be wireless / bluetooth, but then you have to add in some bulky battery / processor unit as well as some form of interconnect between in-ear drivers and said unit... personally, that would annoy me more than having a cable (but not as much as having too short a cable that wont comfortably reach the device in my pocket....)

    [1] Diaphonic Pump: A Sound-Activated Alternating to Static Pressure Converter - Stephen D. Ambrose, Robert Schulein, and Samuel Gido, presented at the 130th convention of the Audio Engineering Society, London, 13th-16th May 2011. (paper no 8361)

    [2]Sound Reproduction within a Closed Ear Canal: Acoustical and Physiological Effects -

    Samuel P. Gido, Robert B. Schulein, and Stephen D. Ambrose presented at the 130th convention of the Audio Engineering Society, London, 13th-16th May 2011. (paper no 8319)

    Abstracts for both papers available at - papers available with an AES subscription...

  7. Markoa

    But I want it now!!!

    For the moment there are the fantastic Comply foam tips which expand in your ear from body temp alone. You get a great fit and they are comfy for hours on end. Baloon in your ear, pah!!!

    1. Jay 2
      Thumb Up

      Thanks for that reminder!

      Just ordered myself some TX-500 for my UE TripleFi 10. The defaultl silicon (or whatever) buds are OK, but over time they become much less grippy, even with cleaning. Hopefuly the Comply foam stuff do the trick.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Or you could just wear headphones

    You don't need them as loud because they also block out background noise.

    They don't leak noise to irritate your neighbours.

    You can wrap the cable around them when you put them away.

    They don't fall out of your ear at the first opportunity.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      "They don't leak noise to irritate your neighbours."

      Well the idiot with the cans cranked up to 11 on the bus the other day was certainly leaking a lot of noise. Maybe you should change that to "some don't leak noice to irritate your neighbours".

  9. Mystic Megabyte


    I see litigation coming when someone wears these on an aeroplane.

    The ambient pressure drops, you swallow and now have positive pressure trapped by your eardrum. Result, pain!

  10. Alister Silver badge


    "I spend more time attempting to fit their rubbery tips snugly in my lugs"

    FPA "lungs" for some reason...

    I was going to suggest not breathing so hard...

  11. Tony W

    Take care of the sense and the sounds will take care of themselves

    It might sound better, and he might even have discovered something, but the claimed health and safety benefit doesn't make any sense. The stapedius reflex reduces the level before the sound reaches the nerves. So if it doesn't operate, more sound reaches the nerves and there is no safety benefit. And what is "discernability" if not a meaningless bit of feel-good ad-speak?

  12. Cali65

    Is promising

    Sound is what keeps these inflated. There would be no additional power drain.

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