The Here One earbuds – believe it or not – can enhance your hearing and even let you filter what you don’t want to hear. There are many reasons why you would want something like this, but do they actually work as advertised?
Build Quality and Design
These are elegantly small and lightweight. Completely wireless, the Here Ones have almost the entire outer-face covered with a stylised grill so that the microphones could listen to your environment better.
You’ll get a selection of foam and silicone tips to choose from for the best possible in-ear fit. Both earbuds are recharged inside a hardy plastic case, about the size of a fat cigar. The case carries an extra three battery charges.
Each earbuds has its own tap sensor for music pause/play, phone call controls, or toggling between Bypass mode and Normal mode. (More on that later.) As a rule, you’ll need to use both of them to get the best experience, but you can use just one if a handsfree is all you need.
They aren’t water-resistant or specifically built for sports, but the Hear One’s real beauty lies in its smarts.
Performance and Features
The Here One’s dedicated App is a pure joy to use. And it’s not just because of its very polished user-interface. When you set up your earbuds for the first time, the App helps you to measure your hearing profile, mapping both ears’ sensitivity to various sonic frequencies. It then optimises the earbuds to suit you. (Surprisingly, my ears did quite well – despite what mum used to say.)
The App then displays a while array of noise filters for you to experiment with. Operating the app is child’s play – swipe up on your screen to amplify ambient sounds (to hear better), or swipe down to cancel ambient noise. You’ll practically have full control over how loud you want your environment to be, and even filter what you don’t want to hear.
And now for the first time ever, you could also mix your ambient sounds in real time too! Thought AR is only about what you see? Well, welcome to Augmented Reality for your ears. Manipulate live concerts by turning the ambient volume up, then activate ‘Reverb’ and ‘Flange’ for an interesting out-of body experience!
Tap into the ‘Noise Filters’ menu to access a playground full of clever filter modes. Some didn’t quite do it for me, like the ‘White Noise’ mode (creates white noise to mask noisy environments) but the most interesting one is ‘Enhance Speech (Back)’. This cancels noise and vocals coming from the front, amplifying what people are saying behind you while in a lecture hall setting, the ‘Enhance Speech (Front) feature is super useful. Do you want better grades? This feature can block the chatter around you and amplify what your lecturer is saying!
The Here Ones do a mighty fine job cancelling much of the ambient noise, even in places with high human traffic. Low frequency hum and buzz? Done. Non-stop chattering by the aunties beside me? Much more bearable! Adding to that, the sound profiles in the App lets you choose the noise cancelling that is most appropriate for that given situation. By using machine learning, the Here Ones can eventually auto-tailor your noise-cancelling to suit specific places based on your location data. (i.e. You won’t need the same noise-cancelling in a restaurant as compared to out in the streets.) And if you ever need to hear what’s going on outside without taking the Here Ones off, you can easily tap once on it to toggle ‘Bypass Mode’.
For its price I would expect the Here One to deliver on its sound quality, and this it did not disappoint. Warm and detailed mids, shimmering highs and tight bass is what I got from these. ‘Mack The Knife’ by Michael Buble sounded energetic and vibrant, and the Here Ones even managed to deliver some airy reverb – as if Michael is performing on stage. I simply can’t ignore the fact that the Here Ones managed to pull this off even with full noise-cancelling!
As far as earbuds go, these are some of the best sounding noise-cancelling earbuds I’ve experienced.
The featherlight Here Ones are quite comfy in the sense that they don’t hurt even after a few hours of use. The silicone tips are soft and feels more skin-textured than like rubber. The earbuds are also pre-formed to fit snugly in the conch of my ears and didn’t jut out too much.
The Here One’s 2-hour battery life is below the common average. Adding to that, with occasional music at 50% volume and just by playing around with its features, battery life fell slightly below 2 hours. Fortunately the case comes with an additional 3 charges for a total of 8 hours of battery.
Its Bluetooth connection range is fairly good when conditions are ideal. Music quality (as I’ve mentioned) is okay and there were no AV syncing issues. But with videos I have one big complaint about its sound quality. Video sounds clear but there’s noticeable hissing in the upper-mid range.
With voice calls, call quality is decent but there is a one second (or so) lag, as is common with Bluetooth handsfree devices.
At S$459, these are some of the most expensive wireless earbuds commercially available. Despite the high price tag, they make sense for people with very specific requirements. I will recommend the Here Ones if you’re needing something very lightweight, has great sound and boasting advanced noise-cancelling features.
And even if you don’t have any hearing challenges, having the freedom to amplify or cancel ambient sounds to your liking is groundbreaking in itself.
The Here Ones are available in Black or White.
So here’s the final tally:
Build Quality and Design (Noise Cancelling Earphones)
- Pros: Small, lightweight design. Completely wireless. Tap sensors for music controls and for bypass mode. Plastic case is sturdy and reassuring, and carries three extra battery charges. Four pairs of foam and silicone tips are provided. Can use just one for handsfree as preferred.
- Cons: Not water-resistant.
Score: 6/7 (28.54%)
Performance and Features
- Pros: The App features a polished user-interface and packs powerful noise-filtering features not found in other Apps. The Here Ones have very good noise cancelling, even compared with most other noise-cancelling earbuds. Can mix the environmental sounds in real time. Boasts machine-learning capabilities that eventually adapts the noise-cancelling to suit the environment automatically. Great sound quality even with noise-cancelling. Comfortable to wear. Bluetooth connection is fairly stable with no AV syncing issues when watching video. Decent voice call quality.
- Cons: 2-Hour battery life is too short compared to other earbuds at similar price points. Hissing sound in the upper mid-range when watching videos. Experienced a 1-second latency during voice-calls.
Score: 8/11 (24.2%)
Score: 2/5 (13.32%)