Don’t call the HUMU a speaker pillow. It’s an “Augmented Audio Cushion” that aims to add physical sensation to your audio experience with vibrations. It’s one of the more unique products we’ve ever tested and, in honesty, we thought it’d be a novelty device at best. We expected a cushion that transmits sound through foam to sound terrible and function like little more than a massage pillow, but we were wrong — the Flexound HUMU sounds pretty good, and its vibrations really do add to the music experience. It’s about the closest thing to an audiophile pillow that we can imagine.
At first glance, the HUMU — which is short for “human music” — looks like a normal pillow, about 20 inches wide, with a 15.5-inch middle area where you’re expected to rest your head. It’s fairly tall at about 6.5 inches, but that makes sense considering that many will use this pillow for watching TV or gaming. From a comfort perspective, we’d say the HUMU is supportive, but not stiff; we assume that some amount of rigidity is beneficial here for transmitting sound waves and vibrations, like a speaker cabinet, but the HUMU remains napworthy.
The HUMU comes covered in a vegan suede cover, available in dark graphite or light gray colorways with a crosshatch pattern of cutouts exposing a thinner mesh in the center panel. The stock cover is not machine washable, but can be removed for light hand washing. It’s an attractive design — even though it’s marketed at gamers, Flexound avoided the overly aggressive visuals so often associated with that market. The HUMU works via Bluetooth or analog, so it connects to just about anything, and its large 5500 mAh battery lasts about eight hours on a charge (though, in our testing at high volumes, a few hours less). We found it about as easy as possible to use — under a flap on the right side of the pillow is a single button for power and pairing, a 3.5mm aux jack, a micro USB charging port, and nothing else — though it would have been helpful if the HUMU’s battery status was reported in the iOS notification shade.
So here we are, asking ourselves how a pillow sounds. Playing music through the HUMU is an interesting experience — sound comes from behind, creating a bubble of music around the head. It’s not simulated surround sound, but there is a spaciousness of soundstage that we found enjoyable. The vibrations are, thankfully, not exaggerated one-note buzzes. The HUMU’s vibrations depend on the frequency being played — the lower the sound, the more powerful the vibration, with high-frequency sounds causing no vibration at all. This makes sense to us — the HUMU isn’t trying to make an unnatural experience, with vibration just for the sake of vibration.
The HUMU’s tactile sense can be powerful, but it’s always proportional; we applaud Flexound’s restraint here. Definition in highs and midrange suffer a bit in this form factor, but not enough to detract from the experience. Flexound’s HUMU is relatively expensive, but it lives up to its own hype. The HUMU adds a genuine-feeling tactile element to music, and we genuinely enjoyed the experience. The HUMU will retail for $299, but its $199 price is currently available through their Indiegogo campaign.
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