When you think of headphones, you typically imagine jamming to your favorite music, not protecting your hearing. Headphone-maker Even is taking a "Why not both?" approach with its $229 H2 Wireless Headphones. Using a proprietary hearing test, the H2 creates a personalized "earprint" that enhances the weaker aspects of your hearing, creating a clean, crisp sound that you don't have to jack up to maximum volume to enjoy. And it doesn't hurt that the wireless cans are incredibly stylish and comfortable.
There's no doubt about it: The Even H2 headphones stand out in a crowd. When I wear them, I feel somewhat above it all — especially when people stop me to ask about them.
"Why yes," I reply with a smug grin, "that is real wood — walnut, to be exact."
Undeserved pompousness aside, the Even H2 is a beautiful pair of headphones. The outer portion of the ear cups are made from real walnut, while the ear cups and majority of the headband are wrapped in PU leather — leather covered with polyurethane to add a measure of sweat resistance. The yolk and extenders are made of light-gray brushed aluminum.
Once I enabled the EarPrint feature, it sounded like a warmth was injected into my music, and I could hear more detail.
Along the bottom-right ear cup sits a pair of volume buttons, in addition to a multifunction button that plays and pauses music as well as answers calls. You also get the Even button that powers the headphones and launches the EarPrint setting mode (more on that later). The right ear cup also has a 3.5-millimeter audio port, in case you need to plug in. There's a lone micro-USB port on the left ear cup for when it's time to recharge.
Thanks to the hinges, the ear cups can be folded upward, creating a compact shape for easy storage. The cups can also swivel 360 degrees if you want them to lie flat. The ear cups also fold upward, toward the yoke, which quickly became annoying after the inadvertent contact made my EarPrint reset. It also made it confusing to tell which cup went on which ear.
The Even H2 ships with a hard carrying case, a micro-USB charging cable and an audio cord.
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The Even H2 served as my main headphones for about two months. Outside of the ear-cup-inversion issue, the on-ear cans were very comfortable. I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you that my ears are so small that the cups actually sat over my ears, rather than on them. That's fine by me, since I prefer over-ear headphones to on-ear ones anyway. But some of my colleagues with normal-size ears said the cans sat comfortably on their ears without exerting any uncomfortable pressure.
The leather-wrapped memory foam has a medium-firm consistency that's soft enough to cradle your ears but firm enough to create a competent seal to get some passive noise cancellation going. The swiveling ear cups also make it easier for the headphones to conform with your head. I've worn the Even H2 for up to 2 hours at a time without experiencing any ill effects.
All that premium material means that, at 10.6 ounces, the Even H2 is a bit heavier than most headphones. Despite the wooden ear cups, they're an ounce heavier than the 9.6-ounce Beyerdynamic Aventho Wireless headphones.
Connecting the Even H2 to my Samsung Galaxy Note 8 was a quick, straightforward process. As soon as you power on the headphones, you'll hear a friendly female voice named Sarah informing you it's looking for something to pair to.
Whereas other headphones excel at blasting music, the Even H2 Wireless delivers a more measured performance that focuses on details.
That's your cue to go to the Bluetooth menu and click the Even H2. From there, you'll hear an enthusiastic "Yes, connected!" and you're good to go.
Before I started blasting my '90s R & B playlist, I had to create my EarPrint, which is essentially a custom sound profile for each of my ears. Because no two ears hear the same, Even has devised a quick hearing test to create special equalizers for each ear. Those custom EQs bolster the frequencies your ear may have trouble hearing so that you don't have to crank up the volume too much — a potentially hearing-damaging practice.
A quick double tap on the Even button starts the process, with Sarah advising you that you're going to hear eight tracks in each ear. As soon as you hear the track, you press the Even button to lock it in and move on to the next. The entire process takes about 3 minutes. Once my EarPrint was created, it was stored in the free companion app, which can hold unlimited EarPrints, in case you're sharing your headphones with a friend or loved one.
After you've created your EarPrint, you can enable or disable it with a quick tap of the Even button. You can use the H2 without the EarPrint enabled, but I wouldn't recommend it. Don't get me wrong: The sound was fine for the most part; it was balanced and clear. But it also sounded cold and rather distant. Once I enabled the EarPrint, it sounded like a warmth was injected into my music, and I could hear more detail. Best of all, I didn't have to raise my volume to more than 50 percent.
The Beyerdynamic Aventho also creates a custom sound profile, but whereas Even administers a test of sorts, Beyerdynamic profiles are currently based on your year of birth and enhance certain frequencies to compensate for rigors of aging. However, the company is currently working with Mimi Hearing Technology to integrate the latter's hearing test of specific frequencies in both ears. The feature is currently in beta on Android and iOS.
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For now, the free Even EarPrint app (Android, iOS) doesn't do much other than store and name your EarPrints. Once the app connected to the H2, I could switch between the EarPrints by tapping on my desired profile.
The app also allows you to see a visual representation of your EarPrint demarcated with yellow lines and dots to represent frequencies. Selecting a dot will give you a quick explanation of the exact frequency with an easy-to-comprehend reference.
Whereas other headphones excel at blasting music, the Even H2 Wireless delivers a more measured performance that focuses on details. I listened to various tracks from different genres on both the Even H2 and the Aventho, and while they were evenly matched in some places, the Even H2 definitely stood out on certain tracks.
When I listened to Dru Hill's "Beauty," I could clearly hear the static meant to represent a turntable needle on a vinyl record, as well as accurate piano and vocals, on both sets of headphones. However, the bass on the Even H2 was richer than it was on the Aventho, where it sounded a bit diffused. But the Even H2's fuller bass sometimes overpowered the clarinet and the snares that helped make up the background instrumentals.
While listening to Santana's "Europa (Earth's Cry Heaven's Smile)," I immediately noticed that even though both sets of headphones were set to 50-percent volume, the sound from the Even H2 was noticeably quieter. Still, the wood-adorned headphones delivered relatively clean audio, especially on the electric guitar, which rightfully took center stage against the organ, drums and cymbals. The Aventho's audio had a warmer presentation, which gave the lead guitar a liveliness that the Even H2 sound seemed to lack. I found that the bass guitar was slightly more pronounced on the Aventho than on the Even H2.
On Jill Scott's "Le Boom Vent Suite," I preferred the sound from the Even H2. Although they delivered a cooler performance compared with the Aventho, it meant I got a tighter sound on the lows. That restraint allowed me to better hear the bells, guitar, keyboard, bass drum, wind chimes and vocals.
When I test call quality on headphones, I'm usually disappointed with the low volume and lack of detail. I hads the total opposite experience on the Even H2. During test calls to my boyfriend, I not only hears him clearly but also heard Shannon Sharpe's distinctive voice on the television in the background. My boyfriend couldn't tell that I was calling him from a pair of headphones, which is impressive.
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Battery Life and Bluetooth
Even claims that the H2 will last about 20 hours on a single charge. That's pretty accurate, as it took two weeks of my daily work commute and meanderings around New York City before Sarah interrupted Isaac Hayes' "Walk on By" to tell me that it was time to recharge. For comparison, the Beyerdynamic Aventho Wireless headphones have an estimated battery life of 30 hours.
The Even H2 Wireless Headphones meet at the intersection of good design and great functionality. Instead of potentially damaging your hearing with unnecessarily high volume, the $229 cans create a custom sound profile designed to bolster your hearing so that you can listen at safe levels. You can enjoy your custom EarPrint for an estimated 20 hours on a charge and wear the headphones for almost as long thanks to the H2's stylish, comfortable design.
If you're looking for even more functionality in your hearing-protection headphones, there's the $449 Beyerdynamic Aventho Wireless, which creates a custom sound profile based on your birth year, has a nice design and delivers deep, rich audio. But if you want to save quite a few dollars while protecting your hearing and look good while doing it, the Even H2 Wireless Headphones are an excellent choice.
Credit: Shaun Lucas/Tom's Guide