It’s challenging to design and manufacture headphones that provide astounding sound quality and yet manage to fall within an affordable price limit. The evergreen Bose and Sony headsets, along with the flashy Beats, provide impeccable sound quality for quite a handsome price. These headphones are usually advertised as being able to enhance the quality of music. Now, Dolby has entered the tough-to-crack market with Dimension – a wireless, over-ear headphone suited for video-streaming binge watchers. While being cheaper than its competitors, it still remains quite expensive for the average consumer.
This is Dolby’s first consumer product, after becoming a household name for its unparalleled innovations in audio and visual quality that can be experienced in movie and home theatres around the world. The company has always worked with third-party hardware manufacturers to deliver their technological advancements, the latest being the Atmos immersive sound. However, Dolby has now officially forayed into the headphone market by launching Dimension, its first commercial product. It features a pair of 40mm custom acoustic drivers and promises up to 15 hours of battery life when connected over Bluetooth 4.2. However, its most distinguishing feature is that it’s powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon quad-core ARM processor, which enables it to process sound without using a base station. The sound processing is done on the headset itself, through a feature Dolby is calling Virtualization. It mimics a 3-D depth and space to create a surround sound effect for movies, TV shows, or music.
Along with Virtualization, Dimension also features a head-tracking feature that, according to Dolby, offers a “more immersive, realistic experience”. It keeps the sound fixed to its source regardless of the direction a user looks at, so the sound falls into the right ear when the head is tilted to the left. Another setting in Dimension, called LifeMix, controls the level of ambient noise entering the ears, similar to the transparency mode on other headphones.
As Dimension relies on Bluetooth, it’s incapable of supporting Atmos, Dolby’s spatial-sound technology that transports the listener in the middle of a movie scene. However, its Virtualization feature along with some up-mixing and machine learning from the Qualcomm chip offers an almost Atmos-like experience. What that means is they’re designed to produce immersive 5.1.2 channels, and they’re smart enough to adjust sound based on background noise and the type of audio onscreen. Such features are a big bonus to movie buffs who care for tiny variations in audio quality.
Along with astounding sound quality emulating surround sound speakers, Dimension is also quite comfortable. It weighs in at 330 grams and it’s equally distributed through the sleek, black headband and ear pads, ensuring hours of usability without any pain in earlobe or cartilage. The early reviews on the product’s quality and comfort have mostly been positive. However, at a price range of $599, it’s quite expensive as compared to other mid-range headphones. Maybe Dolby aims to compete with the high-end products of Bose and Beats, in which case, it’s significantly cheaper than them.