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Vie Shair Are Headphones Designed For Listening and Sharing

03.31.16 | By
Vie Shair Are Headphones Designed For Listening and Sharing

Even before turned on, it’s obvious the VIE SHAIR are not typical wireless headphones by any measure. The brainchild of Yazz Imamura, a former executive at Warner Music Japan, his startup’s solution addresses a common problem posed while listening to music in an office environment: how to listen privately to music without disturbing those nearby, while also retaining the ability to discern ambient noises like phone calls, co-workers, and other work-related notifications.

The most noticeable thing about the VIE SHAIR is there are no ear cups. Instead, a pair of molded 3D printed wireframe structures – manufactured by 3D printing specialists, Stratasys – sit between the headphones’ planar magnetic speakers and the listener’s ears. Because the cage structure doesn’t encapsulate or press against the ears, heat, sweat, and discomfort normally associated with extended headphone wear is almost eliminated. The wearer can also still hear sounds around him or her without removing the headphones, resulting in audio gear ideal for work environments where keeping an ear open amongst colleagues and superiors is preferable…and you don’t want anyone to know you’re a secret Belieber.

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The open cage wireframe design looks remarkably like an Eric Trine piece. An additional closed air frame attachment is included for times when a wearer needs to block out sounds for concentration.

Additionally and supplementing the VIE’s office environment compatibility, the wireless Bluetooth 4.2 Apt-X headphones can be switched into broadcasting and receiving settings – an “on air” mode – for sharing an audio source with any other VIE headsets within a 100ft radius. Company meetings without the hassle of gathering in the conference room, anyone?

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The VIE SHAIR is equipped with Yamaha’s high spec MACH-5 audio module, an advanced codecs capable of 4 channel input/output, and also a 3-band equalizer for tuning output.

If the unusual open cage design isn’t enough for you to feel like you stand out from amongst the ocean of Beats and other traditional headphones, the VIE offers one additional aesthetic accoutrement: adjustable LED trim lighting. LEDs glow softly around the perimeter, adjustable to either red, blue, yellow, green or white. In an open air workspace, wearers could communicate to one another their current availability (i.e. red signaling, “don’t bother me now”); for those walking or riding a bike outside, the lights could prove a visible safety feature.

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The cage is designed to secure the headphones onto the wearer’s skull versus directly onto the ear like typical headphones, thus causing less discomfort. Because the design subtracts ear cups, there comes a tradeoff of sound leakage, proving a little cushion is required for pushing the low end.

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Built-in LEDs can be set to one of five different colors: red, blue, yellow, green or white.

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Controls are situated on the headphone’s right cup, with volume control buttons and a Bluetooth connection button joined by a headphone jack and a micro-USB port for charging. A small switch turns on the VIE’s “on air” mode.

The VIE SHAIR is currently in Kickstarter mode, with nearly a month left to raise enough investment to offer early investors these unusually shaped “social” headphones for $199, with plans to eventually sell them for $399 in March 2017.

Gregory Han is Tech Editor of Design Milk. A Los Angeles native with a profound love and curiosity for design, hiking, tide pools, and road trips, a selection of his adventures and musings can be found at gregoryhan.com.