GENESIS OF A HEADPHONE (PART 4)

Nothing is ever right the first time. And frankly, that’s a good thing. If your first prototype didn’t need real work, you and your CM might be tempted to accept something less than finished. Of course, something completely broken isn’t the goal for a first iteration either; but just enough wrinkles to iron out forces everyone involved to find the real solutions that elevate a product from passable to killer.

Our first prototype was much further along than expected. I credit it to our relentless focus on getting the CAD right in the mechanical engineering phase – collaboration between our ID, ME and CM teams helped us to avoid most of the major pitfalls of a first iteration proto. We got to dive right into refining fit and finish.

As you might expect, people have many different-sized heads. To get the clamping force, or how tightly the headphones push against your head, just right, we tapped into a database of tens of thousands of measurements of different people and identified the 90th percentile clamping force. That is, for 9 out of 10 people, the fit we selected will be amazing. Another element of fit is the ear cup angle. Most people’s ears are not perfectly oriented straight up and down. If you were to draw a line between the highest point of your ear and the tip of your ear-lobe, that line would most likely not be perpendicular to the floor. With a slight backward rotation of the ear cups we created a more natural fit that won’t crowd your ears.

Dialing in the finishes boosted both form and function for Crown. The right leather improves both aesthetics and comfort. The right metal finishes give the slider the high-end touch we were looking for whilst also ensuring a smooth extension movement. Even the cable jacket material was selected for it’s visual and tactile properties as well as durability. It may be cliché but it truly is the details that make anything great. Put another way, if the maker didn’t care, why should you?

After evaluating dozens of samples of every single component in multiple colors and finishes, we’ve arrived at a mass production ready iteration. Now the real work begins.

Imran