Acoustically Transparent Headphones to Improve Musical Performance

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University of South Wales


Creative Industries, Electronics, Sensors and Photonics, Engineering and Manufacturing, Sport and Leisure

About The Opportunity:

Professional musicians spend many years learning to play their instrument and throughout that time the single most important thing they pursue is a personal sound: a tone of the highest quality. But a problem occurs in the recording studio when an overdub is needed; when the partly recorded track or a “click track” is played back through headphones and the musician is asked to play along.

When a complete ensemble is playing and being recorded together, everything is fine. The challenge is that musicians may need to hear their individual tones (and each other) as well as a partly recorded track. Up until now the solution is to ‘fold back’ the musicians’ sound into a headphone mix. But that sound is from the microphone - usually placed in front of the instrument - and is very different in quality from the sound at the musicians’ ears; so much so that most musicians will wear headphones on one ear only or perhaps even use single sided headphones made especially for this purpose.


Our new technology:

Experts in Music Technology in the Faculty of Creative Industries, University of South Wales, have developed novel acoustically transparent headphones which enable musicians to hear the environment around them whilst benefitting from natural binaural fold back, making it significantly easier to play in tune and with a good tone. The University is actively seeking companies interested in licensing and collaborative development partnerships.


Key Benefits:

  • Significantly easier for musicians to play, potentially raising quality and reducing studio recording time and cost.
  • Allows the sound in the live room to reach the musicians’ ears as if not wearing headphones at all.
  • Prevents that sound - or any other fold back sound - from escaping.
  • Allows musicians to control the relative amplitudes of natural sound and the track to be overdubbed.
  • Allows musicians in a group to identify their own sound as well as the sounds of the other performers.
  • Replaces conventional headphones and integrates easily with existing studio equipment.
  • Allows musicians to work in a slightly quieter environment, potentially helping to avoid hearing damage.
  • Equally beneficial to singers.


  • Studio recording  
  • Live stage vocal performance (in-ear version)

IP Status:

  • Protoype
  • Test results
  • Specialist technical/proprietary know-how


The University is seeking collaborative partners to support development of the technology.