Skip to main content

These Indiegogo headphones may seem like a scam, but they're actually quite good

These Indiegogo headphones may seem like a scam, but they're actually quite good

/

Hybrid electrostatic headphones for $249? Can that really be true?

Share this story

If you buy something from a Verge link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

A few basic facts about electrostatic headphones: they're universally admired for having the best sound quality, they cost a lot, and they typically require big powered amplifiers that also cost a ton. Basically, they're sinfully impractical, but just like any sin, they're super pleasurable, too. Having that as your established baseline, what if I told you a new Indiegogo campaign is promising to slash the price from many thousands to a couple of hundred dollars?

The Bravo headphones, which I've been able to test over the past couple of weeks, are presented as the world's first hybrid electrostatic-dynamic headphones, which is to say they have an electrostatic membrane to handle the higher frequencies and a regular 40mm dynamic driver for bass and lower mids. They cost $199 for early backers or $249 at retail in October. Besides their lofty claims, the most peculiar thing about them is that the product and company seem totally mismatched. The maker, Sharkk, spends its time selling copycat Jamboxes on Amazon, and it manages to squeeze typos into both the Indiegogo promo page and the pre-release packaging of the Bravo. But the headphones themselves? They're super light, wonderfully comfortable, and don't sound bad at all!

10_How_it_Works_icons_hf49vm.0.jpg

I unraveled this mini-mystery by looking up the Hybrid Electrostatz tech used within the Bravo, which turns out to have been designed by a whole other company, the Taiwanese Verisonix, and is also being resold by the London-based Mitchell & Johnson. So you don't have to worry about Sharkk being as sloppy with its engineering as it is with its marketing — the company is simply rebadging and recasing an established bit of technology. And honestly, Sharkk deserves some credit for the design of the Bravo, which has a rather unique look, two sets of extremely comfortable ear pads, a very flexible headband, and reasonably compact dimensions for the tech it contains. It's almost all plastic, but it's well done.

The sound of the Bravo headphones is, of course, nowhere near the quality you'd get from a proper set of electrostatic cans, but neither is its price. For $249, these headphones have the performance to justify some consideration, offering a pleasing tonal balance and a neat, forward presentation that never grows sharp or fatiguing. I'm especially fond of the lightness of these cans, which makes them so much more practical and usable on a daily basis.

My red flags about this Indiegogo campaign are not immaterial: from the "lighting fast" typos to the nonsensical claims of "10x" better sound, this is another of those exhaustingly hyperbolic campaigns that make people roll their eyes. But the product itself, even though it might not be as original as it claims to be, is honestly quite good. And in the end, that's what really matters. If your budget doesn't stretch quite as far as the excellent Beoplay H6s, these could be an intriguing alternative.

Correction: The developer of the Hybrid Electrostatz technology is Verisonix and not Mitchell & Johnson, as originally stated. We regret the error.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed 6 minutes ago Not just you

T
Thomas Ricker6 minutes ago
The Simpsons pays tribute to Chrome’s dino game.

Season 34 of The Simpsons kicked off on Sunday night with an opening credits “couch gag” based on the offline dino game from Google’s Chrome browser. Cactus, cactus, couch, d’oh! Perfect.


T
Youtube
Thomas Ricker7:29 AM UTC
Table breaks before Apple Watch Ultra’s sapphire glass.

”It’s the most rugged and capable Apple Watch yet,” said Apple at the launch of the Apple Watch Ultra (read The Verge review here). YouTuber TechRax put that claim to the test with a series of drop, scratch, and hammer tests. Takeaways: the titanium case will scratch with enough abuse, and that flat sapphire front crystal is tough — tougher than the table which cracks before the Ultra fails — but not indestructible.


E
Twitter
Emma RothSep 25
Rihanna’s headlining the Super Bowl Halftime Show.

Apple Music’s set to sponsor the Halftime Show next February, and it’s starting out strong with a performance from Rihanna. I honestly can’t remember which company sponsored the Halftime Show before Pepsi, so it’ll be nice to see how Apple handles the show for Super Bowl LVII.


E
Twitter
Emma RothSep 25
Starlink is growing.

The Elon Musk-owned satellite internet service, which covers all seven continents including Antarctica, has now made over 1 million user terminals. Musk has big plans for the service, which he hopes to expand to cruise ships, planes, and even school buses.

Musk recently said he’ll sidestep sanctions to activate the service in Iran, where the government put restrictions on communications due to mass protests. He followed through on his promise to bring Starlink to Ukraine at the start of Russia’s invasion, so we’ll have to wait and see if he manages to bring the service to Iran as well.


E
External Link
Emma RothSep 25
We might not get another Apple event this year.

While Apple was initially expected to hold an event to launch its rumored M2-equipped Macs and iPads in October, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman predicts Apple will announce its new devices in a series of press releases, website updates, and media briefings instead.

I know that it probably takes a lot of work to put these polished events together, but if Apple does pass on it this year, I will kind of miss vibing to the livestream’s music and seeing all the new products get presented.


Welcome to the new Verge

Revolutionizing the media with blog posts

Nilay PatelSep 13
E
External Link
Emma RothSep 24
California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoes the state’s “BitLicense” law.

The bill, called the Digital Financial Assets Law, would establish a regulatory framework for companies that transact with cryptocurrency in the state, similar to New York’s BitLicense system. In a statement, Newsom says it’s “premature to lock a licensing structure” and that implementing such a program is a “costly undertaking:”

A more flexible approach is needed to ensure regulatory oversight can keep up with rapidly evolving technology and use cases, and is tailored with the proper tools to address trends and mitigate consumer harm.


A
Youtube
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Look at this Thing.

At its Tudum event today, Netflix showed off a new clip from the Tim Burton series Wednesday, which focused on a very important character: the sentient hand known as Thing. The full series starts streaming on November 23rd.


A
The Verge
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Get ready for some Netflix news.

At 1PM ET today Netflix is streaming its second annual Tudum event, where you can expect to hear news about and see trailers from its biggest franchises, including The Witcher and Bridgerton. I’ll be covering the event live alongside my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore, and you can also watch along at the link below. There will be lots of expected names during the stream, but I have my fingers crossed for a new season of Hemlock Grove.