This $135 headphone uses science to create better sound for older ears – CNET

avantree-aria-me

Great for older listeners, the Avantree Aria Me will fine-tune your listening experience based on how well you hear.

Avantree

As we get older, our ears lose sensitivity. That can make it harder to hear dialogue in movies and TV shows, and it reduces the range of sound we're able to hear while listening to music. I'm 51, and I can attest to both bummers. Lately, while watching certain shows, my wife and I turn to each other: "Can you understand what they're saying?" (Yeah, we've become those people.)

That's one reason I'm a big fan of Zvox's AccuVoice soundbars, which do a great job boosting voices. But what about private listening? Surely there must be headphones that can help compensate for hearing loss?

Yep: For a limited time, the Avantree Aria Me auto-optimized over-the-ear headphone with ANC drops to $135 with promo code CNETAUDIO. It's not much of a discount, I know, but it's the only discount to date and a Cheapskate exclusive. Read on to learn why you might want to consider it.

The Aria Me is an ANC (active noise-canceling) headphone with a special trick up its sleeve: It employs an app that tests your hearing, then transfers a customized profile to the headphone. That profile promises to optimize your entire listening experience, from music and movies to phone calls.

Does it work? I did an informal before-and-after test, not expecting much. The app is pretty simple (and kind of interesting): You turn an onscreen dial until you can barely hear the tone that's being played, then repeat for additional tones. You do this for both ears.

I listened to a Fleetwood Mac song before doing the test; it sounded fine. But after? I could hear noticeably "more" of the song, as though someone had adjusted an equalizer to increase certain levels. Your mileage may vary, of course, but I came away surprised and impressed. Worth noting: The Aria Me supports both aptX-HD for "high-resolution" audio and aptX-LL to virtually eliminate latency in TV and movies.

Meanwhile, the headphone charges by hanging on an included stand, a feature I absolutely love. There's also a plug-in boom microphone for phone calls, though it's optional; the headphone has a built-in mic as well. And speaking of plugs, you can use this as a wired headphone if you prefer, though you lose the custom-audio feature and button controls when doing so. 

By the way, if it's just TV audio you want help with, the Zvox AV50 is a great choice, bringing that same AccuVoice soundbar technology to a noise-canceling headphone. It's currently on sale for $70 (originally $150).

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