I’m always up for discovering new listening experiences for my music. I love a good pair of headphones or a good set of speakers. I’m not a persnickety audiophile, but I’ve developed an ear for good sound, and I’m willing to spend a little more money to get it. Which is why I was interested when the HUMU Augmented Audio Cushion came up in my email.
The tagline for the HUMU is this: “Rest your head on the first and only cushion that lets you HEAR & FEEL sound like never before.” So, what does that mean?
The HUMU is basically a pillow with a speaker in it. Well, a couple speakers, Bluetooth connectivity, and some kind of vibrating technology that turns any audio under 500Hz into physical sensations. It may seem like a gimmick, but the results are impressive. It’s an immersive listening experience that’s somewhere between sitting in your own personal movie theater and resting your head on a sub-woofer.
The sound quality is very good. This is much more than just a Bluetooth speaker stuffed into a pillow. If I wanted to compare the audio to a pair of headphones, I’d liken this to my much-loved Audio-Technica ATH-M50xs, with a nice balance across the highs and mids. The lower-mids are a bit light, but the lows… well, I’ll get into those in a moment.
In contrast to headphones, though, the HUMU is a speaker, and therefore it’s not an enclosed listening experience. It’s wide open, so you have very good sound and a very large soundstage. While it creates a localized listening experience, there’s enough bleed that you’re probably not going to use the HUMU at work, or anywhere that playing your own music would bother someone else.
The bass is where the HUMU creates a unique and amazing listening experience. First, the frequencies below 500Hz are clear and well-defined. Second, they move you—literally. HUMU says they’ve included technology that’s going to be used in movie theaters where your seats will vibrate at lower frequencies. In a pillow, it’s an exciting way to enjoy your music. You will be moved by your music. The HUMU is for anyone who says they enjoy good bass, because instead of just projecting it into your ears like headphones, the HUMU surrounds your head with sound, and pulses the bass beats through your skull.
I can imagine so many interesting ways to enjoy music and other audio through a HUMU. Movies would be amazing. Using a HUMU for relaxation and meditation would heighten the experience. Games, head-banging, classical, all listening would be augmented by HUMU.
Connectivity is via Bluetooth 4.2 or a 3.5mm line in. The latter allows you to hard-wire it to TVs or gaming systems, where the HUMU would work similar to a gaming chair, letting you feel the shots and explosions. It charges via USB, and a charge should work up to 8 hours. The cover is removable and washable.
HUMU is an existing product (the first generation was created in Finland and already sold as a therapy tool), and now they’re trying to bring the second generation to a mass market via Indigogo. The early-bird price for a single cushion is $199, which is in line with the cost of good headphones or speakers. See the video below, and use this link to check out the campaign and get your very own personal listening experience in a pillow!
HUMU provided a unit for the purposes of this review. All opinions are my own.