écoute audio Vacuum Tube-amplified Headphones

If you sneer at the idea of listening to music while on the go because streaming music/digital music through headphones lacks the warmth offered by an analog hi-fi system, well then this unique pair of audio cans, known as écoute audio, may change your mind.

écoute audio Vacuum Tube-amplified Headphones

écoute audio is the world’s first and only wireless headphones to integrate a vacuum tube preamp stage. Though, it is not the first audio headphones to feature an active Tube amplification inside the headphones. I believe OVC was the first.

Another key difference is that this pair of cans does not directly amplify the signal like traditional headphones that do have built-in amplification.

It is designed to have a signal pathway as a high-end rack system that uses a preamp stage to increase the gain and add back some of the texture and warmth that are lost in the Bluetooth compression.

Together with the custom 40 mm Cellulose Fiber drivers, it reveals more detail in the instrumentation and makes the vocals sound more realistic.

écoute audio Vacuum Tube-amplified Headphones

écoute said the signal path was designed to not only fill out the sound and add warmth to digital compressed music but also add clarity to the midrange – a range in which our ears are most sensitive.

Obviously, it isn’t using a conventional vacuum tube; that would likely melt the earcup and scorched some ears. Instead, the preamp is driven by a KORG Nutube P61, a next-generation, low-powered directly heated dual triode thermionic valve (vacuum tube) based on vacuum fluorescent display technology.

It runs cool, consumes modest power (by vacuum tube standards), and is shock resistant, durable, and long-lasting, with over 30,000 hours of functional lifetime.

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This pair of cans also stands in the area of audio input. It offers not one, not two, but three input options. There is wireless streaming via Bluetooth 5.3 technology that supports aptX Adaptive, aptX LL, LDAC, and AAC and has a range of 10 meters or 33 feet.

écoute audio Vacuum Tube-amplified Headphones

In addition, it supports high-resolution digital audio input via USB-C, and finally, you can go all-out old school with the 3.5 mm analog input. The cans are outfitted with a rechargeable battery good for around 20 hours of listening on a single charge.

And like all modern-day headphones, it has a multipoint connection supporting up to two devices. It does not have Active Noise Cancelation and you can’t answer calls with it, yet. Those will be available through a firmware update in Spring 2024.

I am not sure how that even works. Does this mean the hardware for all ANC and voice calls is there but the software to enable them isn’t ready?

On the design aspect, the écoute audio has an over-ear design. It boasts a satin-finished all-aluminum body and armature, cool memory foam, and discreetly hidden on-earcup controls. It is not revealed what the wrapping on the headband and earcup cushions are made of.

écoute audio Vacuum Tube-amplified Headphones

You can learn about the écoute audio Vacuum Tube-amplified Headphones on Kickstarter where it is on its final leg of the campaign. The campaign has met its funding goal with over 450 backers behind it contributing nearly 190,000 USD. If you are so inclined, you may join the party by pledging at least US$399 for a pair.

But be warned though. Given that this is a crowdfunding campaign, it has its risks. And I don’t quite like it when it does not have an official website. Apparently, écoute audio is a collaborative effort between a long-time Chinese manufacturer Morpho MFG and “some respect partners in the audio industry” and it is “their personal passion project”. We will leave it to you to be your own judge.

écoute audio Vacuum Tube-amplified Headphones

Images: Kickstarter (écoute audio)/Facebook (@ecouteaudio).