Rebuff Reality is taking its latest VR accessory, VR Ears, to Kickstarter with the hopes of bringing an enhanced audio solution to all major headsets, including those with sub-par or no integrated audio like PSVR, Quest, Rift S, and the original Vive. The Kickstarter campaign launches on April 21st.
Since the consumer VR industry kicked off in 2016, more and more headsets are heading toward integrated audio solutions. While the original Vive and PSVR launched without any on-board audio (expecting the user to plug in included earbuds, or their own headphones), both have since made moves to rectify that. HTC launched the Vive Deluxe Audio Strap (AKA DAS) which improved the fit of the headset and added on-board audio, while an updated version of PSVR eventually added more convenient earbuds.
The latest headsets from Oculus—the Go, Quest, and Rift S—all have speakers hidden inside their headstraps. While this is convenient because there’s no headphones to get in the way when putting the headset on, all three leave us wishing for better quality and positional audio accuracy, both of which bring big boosts to immersion.
Valve’s Index headset seems to have found an ideal solution; it’s ‘off-ear’ audio design means the headphones aren’t in the way when putting the headset on, but at the same time they offer excellent audio quality with high volume and great positional accuracy.
VR Ears is a third-party audio accessory aiming to emulate the Index off-ear audio design and bring it to pretty much any VR headset out there thanks to a clip-on approach. The company hasn’t said exactly which headsets it will support, but it has teased compatibility with PSVR, Vive DAS, Rift S, Quest, Pimax, and it can even be used as a standard pair of headphones without a VR headset.
Rebuff Reality, the company behind several other VR accessories, is bringing VR Ears to Kickstarter on April 21st, starting at 10AM PT (you local time here). The company hasn’t yet announced how much they hope to raise for the product, or the expected shipping timeline, but that will be made clear when the Kickstarter launches next week.
Despite emulating the off-ear audio design of Index, there’s no telling what kind of quality VR Ears will bring to the table. Valve invested substantial time into developing the headphones for Index—including the use of some novel drivers that VR Ears are unlikely using—so we’ll be interested to see what the final product ends up sounding like.
Either way, VR Ears has the potential to substantially improve both volume and positional audio accuracy over the likes of Go, Quest, and Rift S, thanks to the use of much larger drivers and the ability to position the speakers directly adjacent to the ear.