Many people don’t realize that mixed reality and virtual reality are composite experiences in which both the video and the audio play a part in convincing a person that what their senses perceive is ‘real’. We see a considerable effort on the part of MR and VR manufacturers to improve the resolution of the eye screens that provide the video feed.
Mixed reality is a composite experience
This is a fact, and sound is a crucial part of any mixed reality or virtual reality experience. The reason most companies associated with VR do not pay much attention to this side of things is that companies that specialize in audio headsets already have sound quality as idealized by the professional headset more or less locked down.
State of the art headphones today deliver an enviable range and crystal-clear audio
That said, all VR companies have to do is provide a 3.5 mm jack that provides compatibility, and they have the sound effects side of things accounted for.
So here’s a selection of excellent headphones that are compatible with and which fit well with the Lenovo Explorer Mixed Reality Headset.
Plantronics Audio 355
Two qualities are of paramount importance in the selection of a good pair of headphones: quality of sound and comfort. Both of these are delivered perfectly by the Plantronics Audio 355 PC.
To provide a comfortable fit, these headphones come with faux leather padding on the ear cups and under the headband. The flexible headband provides exceptional comfort at some cost to its durability, although it should hold together just fine if you don’t put too much stress on it. It comes with a flexible microphone which can be bent to fit best with the Lenovo Explorer headset, and it retains its shape unless moved.
Versatility and High Fidelity
As far as sound quality goes, these headphones boast an audio range of 20-20,000 Hz, which speaks volumes for their versatility and fidelity. It goes without saying that this set can provide reasonable mixed reality immersion and excellent virtual reality gaming audio.
However, there is considerable amount of audio leakage due to the absence of a seal around the ear cups, which means that people outside your mixed reality world might be annoyed at the sounds coming from the headphones.
Nevertheless, the Plantronics Audio 355 remains a reasonably-priced option to use with your Lenovo Explorer headset, and will allow for reasonable immersion in MR or VR.
JBL J88i Premium Over-Ear Headphones
JBL has been delivering top notch quality sound to cinemas, theaters, and other professional enterprises for more than half a century. It’s hardly a surprise that the company brings that level of quality sound to VR and MR compatible headphones today.
Sound is clear and resonant, leading to a mixed reality with perfect audio depth perception
The JBL J88i brings you perfect clarity and an extended bass that tends to beat headphones in the same price range, all due to the premium JBL drivers in the set.
You can rotate both the ear cups by 180 degrees allowing you to hear external sounds.This is especially useful in mixed reality.
Looks and Style
When it comes to looks the J88i delivers beautifully, the padding on the ear cups and the headband is both functional and stylish.
The microphone includes a one-sided, flat, tangle free cable, which allows you to communicate and use voice commands in mixed reality. The cable itself is detachable and comes off with a twist lock system on the ear cup. The sound quality is improved by subduing resonance with the help of a strain relief connector.
For excellent quality, rugged good looks and an excellent build, these headphones would be difficult to match.
Sennheiser HD 215
The Sennheiser HD 215 is one of the finest headphones on the market today, combining incredible audio quality and an immense frequency range with the exceptional comfort of fit.
While the headband design offers flexibility, it in no way compromises the fit itself. When adjusted according to one’s preferences, it does not slip or slide from its position.
This is rather important in MR, and can be crucial in VR gaming
We tested it out in a rather energetic VR scenario, and there were no signs of it slipping whatsoever.
Both the headband and the ear cups come with sufficient padding to ensure comfort and prevent any noise leakage.
The padding on the headband is 3/8th of an inch thick and that on the ear cups is half an inch thick, both of which make these headphones comfortable enough to wear for hours to an end without the slightest discomfort.
To say that the audio range and sound quality are more than good would be an understatement.
The audio precision offers a complete soundscape that allows you to pinpoint sound directions and source in a three-dimensional mixed reality or virtual reality environment.
The tone balance on this model is incredible, right from the mid to the high tones, providing a neutral but smooth transition.
All in all, this is a sophisticated audio unit for your MR or VR setup.
With regards to performance and durability, these headphones are the best you can come by.
These are built to last… and last!
Unlike most models, the headband sports a sturdy design of plastic and metal reinforcement. The thick plastic ear cups and the headband together prevent most forms of fall damage.This makes them excellent for use, not only in MR, but also in relatively energetic VR gaming.
While the headphones do not come with any controls for the audio, most of it can be handled internally through your MR or VR apps.
A focused soundstage
In most consumer-focused headphone models the soundstage tends to be exaggerated, so, depending on your tastes, you may find the range a trifle narrow.
Nevertheless, the VR soundscape that the ATH-M40x provides will give you a real feeling of depth and distance through the excellent stereo control.
While being comfortable, they do compromise a little in that they allow noise leakage, so, while you’ll enjoy reasonable audio immersion and exclusion of external sounds, the same can’t be said for anyone in your vicinity, who will probably be able to hear some of the audio environment of your MR or VR app.
One of the Greats – Sony MDR-7520
Finally, if you have money to spare, here are headphones that can truly add to your MR or VR experience.
These are among the elite in Lenovo Explorer compatible headphones
The thick ear cup padding ensures satisfactory sound isolation and little to no leakage. What it compromises on in its looks, it delivers in terms of sheer performance.
The 50mm Liquid Crystal Polymer Film dome drivers deliver a high frequency response to up to 80Hz, which can’t be said for the other models in this price range.
The design is such that it offers a light weight, yet a rigid build and the distinct mechanical-audio driver provides both sound fidelity and quality.
A perfect soundscape
The superb sound quality makes it easy to isolate the various sound producing elements in your MR or VR soundscape, allows you to to pick out individual and moving sounds, and ascertain distances in the soundscape with pinpoint accuracy.
While sounds that are ‘nearer’ will be more dominant, you’ll be able to pick out background elements in the MR or VR environment and pick out the direction and distance of those sounds.
The headphones are reasonably comfortable, but they are essentially a no-frills design
They do provide good padding, and are comfortable, but they look simply functional. There are, ironically, none of the LED lights and other effects found on many cheaper headsets.
These headphones deliver excellent, PERFECT sound, period, with a reasonable level of comfort that will allow you to use them in tandem with your Lenovo Explorer for hours on end.
Show? Style? Looks?
Seek elsewhere. Perfect Sound? You can find that here.