INDIANAPOLIS, IN (April 7, 2010) — A simple but surprising observation has led to the creation of the industry’s most comfortable in-ear headphones—and two U.S. patents for the Klipsch Speaker company.
The United States Patent Office recently awarded Mark Blanchard, senior acoustic design engineer for Klipsch, with a utility patent for a single flange oval ear tip (Patent No. US 7,681,577 B2) and a design patent for a dual flange oval ear tip (Patent No. US D611,929 S). Blanchard anticipates receiving two more U.S. patents within the next several weeks—a design patent for a single flange oval ear tip and a utility patent for a dual flange oval ear tip.
Blanchard has been intimately involved with the development of in-ear headphones since Klipsch entered that market in 2007. “Because we had never made headphones before, we began the entire process without a predetermined baseline, which was actually an advantage.” The first step was to create three-dimensional ear impressions using volunteers from Klipsch and Indiana University students.
What Klipsch engineers discovered was remarkable. “When we began studying three-dimensional ear impressions, we discovered that nearly everyone has an oval-shaped ear canal,” Blanchard noted. “We couldn’t believe that no one else had yet considered the anatomical shape of the canal when designing in-ear headphones.”
The ear tip used with virtually every competitor’s headphones is circular in shape, which is more affordable from a manufacturing standpoint, but is not optimal for comfort or sound isolation. In addition, the lack of a proper seal with the ear canal results in a loss of bass sound.
The extensive research led to Mark’s invention of the industry’s first oval (or elliptical) ear tips; designs that specifically fit the contours of virtually every ear canal. The advantages are significant: improved fit, superior noise isolation and most importantly, class-leading comfort which makes even long listening sessions a pleasure. In addition, because of the tighter seal, users can listen to their favorite music at lower volumes—which can help to preserve hearing. Different size polymer resin ear tips are included with each Klipsch Image headphone to help users find the fit that works best for them.
Circular-shaped tip designs put stress on the pressure points inside the ear, often resulting in discomfort after short periods of use and even pain if the headphone pushes on the bottom of the concha. “Once you have the right fit and seal, our ear tips are virtually impossible to feel—letting you listen longer and better,” Blanchard added. The patents cover a number of ear tips, five of which are already available and others which may yet be added. Current options include small, medium and large tips as well as two dual flanged versions.