Taction Kannon Prototype Review
December 19, 2015 Luckbad 9
I was recently contacted by a startup called Taction Technology about headphone technology they’ve been working on. They claimed to have tech that would enhance music listening, movie watching, virtual reality, and gaming. They boasted that it could be a game changer for bassheads and those who appreciate the tactile sensation that bass in the real world provides.
I’m a skeptic. As I read on, I realized they wanted to put their money where their mouth is and let me check out their prototype headphones. Okay, that speaks to some degree of confidence. I explored their website and the theory behind the technology and started to get excited.
Taction technology–for us laymen–essentially transfers low frequencies physically to the skin via vibrations. The intensity and frequency of that vibration is tuned to mimic reality. Ever heard a symphony in the real world? When those big drums or double basses play a low note, you get slower but intense vibrations in your body, while higher bass notes vibrate faster. That’s what this tech is supposed to do, but in a headphone.
This isn’t the first headphone to try something along these lines. Skullcandy makes a headphone that shakes called the Crusher. It has a battery in the earcup, sounds like crap, and is essentially a neat toy. That’s exactly how I expected the Taction Kannon to sound, to be frank.
Boy was I wrong.
It took about half a second for a wide grin to spread across my face when I first put the Taction Kannons on. It’s not a generic shaking sensation as soon as bass notes hit, it’s a masterfully accurate vibration that mirrors what you would feel in the real world were such a note played.
And the headphones themselves sound great! I first checked out the closed prototype because that interested me the most. Imagine an accurate studio reference headphone with solid isolation and excellent comfort. Tilt it a bit up in the bass and down in the treble, but just a touch. Then add vibration… not just epic vibration, but tunable.
I realized quickly that this isn’t just a headphone for bassheads. Right on the earcup, you can tune the level of vibration intensity you want. You can go as subtle as a slight shake on low notes to fast vibration as a bow slides across the strings of a cello on up to epic, teeth-rattling earthquakes.
Game changer? Hell yes. As a basshead-audiophile, I’ve always maintained that the vast majority of headphones massively fail in the bass department. Live music is a physical experience. You can feel the bass. A problem I’ve always had convincing purists of this always arises: Most bass-capable headphones sound like crap. Even if they don’t, it’s almost impossible to get visceral bass without bleeding into the other frequencies.
Taction technology solves this problem. The physical component of bass vibration is decoupled from the sonic spectrum entirely. A beautifully tuned headphone is at the forefront of the audio experience, and the Taction vibration technology can be as subtle or pronounced as you want it to be, including off completely.
Functionally, these are equally as brilliant as the sound and experience they produce. The Taction component of the headphone is super lightweight and requires no batteries in the cups themselves. It is powered via USB, and the audio signal isn’t passed through the USB at all.
This is absolutely amazing. I expected batteries in the cups and some subpar integrated sound card/amp to do the work, but it does none of these things. The USB power can come from absolutely anywhere. I tried it plugged into a computer, into the wall, and into a tiny portable battery. All of them worked perfectly.
You can also dial the volume of the headphone up and down with a handy in-line control as well as flip a switch to turn the Taction on and off. Did I mention the mic? Yep, there’s a mic that you can fully detach from the earcups and a super satisfying red button next to the metal Taction switch to enable/disable it.
Who will these headphones appeal to?
Anyone with two ears and a soul. This really could be a game changer for many people. I plan to welcome many to the basshead-audiophile fold after they hear the Taction Kannons.
More specifically? Okay, fine. First off, bassheads are an obvious target. This more effectively transfers physical vibrations to the skin than any headphone ever. Period. And it does it better than anything out there as well. And yes, I’ve heard and owned the top basshead headphones, including the JVC HA-SZ2000 and Fostex TH600. I currently own and favor the JVC HA-DX2000 (anniversary edition of the JVC HP-DX1000) because of its ability to produce epic bass and euphonic musical presentation.
The Taction Kannon puts all of my basshead cans to shame. It sounds better than all but the most expensive existing bass headphones even before you start talking about the integrated technology. Add the adjustable degree of vibration on top of that, and it takes the top seat on the list without contention.
Who else? Anyone who watches blockbuster movies in the theater knows what it’s like to feel explosions and Star Destroyers flying past the camera. The Taction does that. You’ll friggin’ love watching movies with them.
Gamers? Oh yes. I’m a game designer and hardcore gamer in the real world, and these things are monsters for gaming. In fact, they’ve done tests and shown that gamers actually react faster with taction technology. It makes sense when you think about it. You detect touch much sooner than you process sound and sight. If someone is firing to your right, you react instantly because you can actually feel the location the shots are coming from. It’s like enabling a cheat code.
I’m going to go on a quick tangent about the second pair of headphones I got to listen to. Taction is likely going to release the closed cans first, but they also have an open headphone version of them. They started with a headphone that is absolutely top tier for positional accuracy in shooters, then added the Taction technology to it. What this means is you get a headphone with incredible soundstage and a bit of a treble tilt that is usually devoid of any bass. But, with Taction, you can get as much bass sensation as you desire.
What this translates to for FPS gamers is absurd. It’s not just like enabling a cheat code, it’s like switching on a wallhack. In Call of Duty: Black Ops III and Battlefield, I was trouncing the competition. I might as well have seen through walls with how well I could position the enemy and how quickly I was able to react. Competitive gamers must get these headphones. The closed headphones are better than any closed headphone for gaming, but the open headphones are next level for shooters in particular.
Music lovers? This is what I’m most excited about. I think these headphones have the potential to show even purist audiophiles the potential for the live experience in headphone listening. Tactile bass combined with excellent sound that doesn’t bleed into the mids is finally here. Not only that, but you can get epic bass without cranking the volume! I was able to listen much quieter than I normally would because of the adjustable bass Taction. The company indicates that users tend to listen at about 4dB lower volume than normal, which sounds like a small amount but is actually pretty significant (you can save your hearing with that small change in volume).
Will I be buying these? My overnight experience with them would indicate that, heck yes, I need these in my life.
So, what are some negatives? Only one. You can’t buy them. Not yet, anyway.
Want to know when they’re available? Subscribe on the Taction Technology facebook subscription form. They won’t spam you, you’ll only get up to 2 updates a month, and you’ll find out immediately when crowdfunding/early discounts are available.
Watch the Taction Technology website, Taction Facebook page, or Basshead.Club to find out when these are available to Kickstart or purchase! There is also a plethora of information about the headphones and technology for those of you who are like me and love the details.
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To be released March 2016 at $499 retail. Get on the list to receive a launch notice with discounted pricing available exclusively for early supporters.
Kannon Closed-Back Headset
The Taction Kannon is a premium over-ear headset with audiophile-quality sound and high-fidelity tactile reproduction. Low-frequency sounds that the body both feels and hears are rendered with unparalleled clarity. The experience is immersive. breath-taking, powerful and precise. The natural feeling of real sound is now possible in headphones.
- Detachable Boom Mic
- Taction Intensity Control via Ear Cup Touch Sensor
- Inline Control of Volume and Microphone Mute
- Cable for audio and USB power/recharge
- Optional latching hard case with precision-cut foam
Style: Closed Back Circumaural
- Acoustic Drivers: (40mm neodymium), (38 Ohm), (90 dB @ 0.11 V)
- Taction Drivers: (15 gram), (+/- 1.5 mm peak travel), (1.8 N peak force)
- Acoustic Frequency Response: 10 – 30,000 Hz
- Taction Frequency Response: 15 – 150 Hz
- Weight: 345 gram
- Ear Cup Swivel: 90 degrees