In the battle for the Samsungifcation of Harman, there were always going to be casualties of war. In the shuttering of AKG’s Vienna offices, the group lost a lot of very smart designers and builders, many of whom went to a new pro-audio brand called Austrian Audio. But Heinz Renner, the brains behind the legendary AKG K1000 ear speakers, had different ideas. He joined forces with Viennese test equipment makers LB-Acoustics where he met his friend Helmut Ryback, co-developer of the K1000, and set to work making really good headphones. The distinctive MySphere 3.1 and 3.2 “hover-ear” headphones are the results.
The MySphere comes in two flavors: the 15-ohm MySphere 3.1, and the 110-ohm 3.2. The choice depends on the characteristics of your headphone amplifier. (LB-Acoustics recommended the 3.2 for use with its Burson Conductor V2+ amp/DAC.) Neither model is hard to drive, however.
The heart of the MySphere is its drive unit (and the way it fits your head). Unlike every other design on the market, the MySphere uses a two-part membrane made from glass, air, plastics, and resin, designed to be rigid, well damped, yet extremely elastic—a combination said to produce “symmetrical linear movement with displacements that have not previously been achieved in headphone design.” This membrane is coupled with a fully radially aerated magnet system (with approximately 1.5T field strength) and a custom-manufactured, resonance-free, acoustic resistor to make a truly unique way of producing “ear speaker” sound.
The way you put the MySphere design on is different from practically every other design, too. MySphere’s bow headband is worn like Alice’s from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland—from behind your ears across the temples to the front of your skull. LB-Acoustics is doing something right because the 340g MySphere feels much lighter (because its weight is distributed over a large area). The cable connects to one end of the band (there are connecters on both sides) via a 3.5mm TRRS 4-pole symmetric connecter. A 1.2m cable is supplied as standard with a 3.5mm plug and a 6.35mm adapter. An optional longer cable and two balanced options are available.
The earcups (called “Soundframes”) are freely mounted, attached to the headband through a fixed arm, which contains solid conductors that connect to conductor bars on the band itself. Users then adjust the height and angle of the earcups relative to their ears (aided by a PDF instruction manual and pink-noise file included on a USB memory key). Once properly adjusted, the earcups hover just away from your ears (hence the name). One hint: Don’t worry about symmetry, but instead make sure the Soundframes are correctly aligned to each ear’s height and shape. As MySphere setup is inherently flexible, we recommend taking notes and photos.
This feels “different” at first, and the fixed band is not ideal for those with “outlier” (read: watermelon-sized) heads. However, any initial trepidation is dispelled at the listening stage and after about a minute they feel extremely comfortable. But it’s the sound that grabs you most of all.
First, you are struck by the openness of the presentation (as you might expect, but there’s a sense of expansiveness that puts them at the top of the top of the tree). What comes next is both the speed of transient attack, which is almost supernaturally fast, and the bass, which is surprisingly deep and meaty but more importantly perfectly balanced with the rest of the tonal range. The pithy, one-word summation would be: “uncanny.”
It’s rare that we encounter a design that is genuinely different, rarer still when the differences are not only physically easy to spot but also work as advertised. The whole caboodle gains “scarce as hen’s teeth” status when all of that comes with good sound. The ambitious and audacious MySphere 3.1/3.2 ticks all those boxes. Expensive it may be, but the MySphere sets the benchmark for dynamic headphone performance today. Wow!
Specs & Pricing
Type: Single-driver “hover-ear” headphone
Driver complement: Single-driver ear-phones, single-capsule omnidirectional microphones
Frequency response: 20Hz–44kHz
Impedance: 110 ohms for 3.2 model; 15 ohms for 3.1 model
Sensitivity: 96dB/1mW RMS (115dB SPL/V eff)
Rated-continuous power: 60mW RMS (pink noise)
Weight: 340 grams (without cables)
LB-ACOUSTICS MESSGERÄTE GMBH
Bahnsteggasse 17–23/Stiege 1
1210 Vienna, Austria
+43(0) 1 270 77 00