Some people have no problem with the cold — we see these people jogging through the snow and riding bikes in negative temperatures. That’s not us. We have a low tolerance for cold. Trying to wear ear protection with headphones can be a pain, with headbands making IEMs uncomfortable and hats making over-ear headphones impossible to fit. One company, currently in the middle of an Indiegogo campaign, thinks they have the answer. The Sound Huggle is an innovative device that marries earmuffs with circumaural headphones. We received a production sample and tested them out in the cold — never let it be said that we take ourselves too seriously around here.
The Sound Huggle is a simple headphone with lots of thoughtful design. The frame and cups are all plastic, but not any plastic — a special “POM” plastic is used that doesn’t get brittle in cold temperatures. Just three buttons control all necessary functions; despite being covered in felt, the buttons are satisfyingly clicky and easy to operate while wearing gloves. The Sound Huggle’s charging port is hidden under a small leather tag; clever, but when pulled up, the bare electronics can be seen underneath. The Sound Huggle folds and collapses, making it not only portable, but also allowing it to be worn behind the head. It’s available in three styles — knit with faux fur facing the ears in gray or red, and a simple gray felt.
Our review sample came in the gray felt version, which has no fur. Though we think these are probably the sharpest looking of the three, we can’t help but feel like we missed out on some of the experience — there’s no padding on the inside of the Sound Huggle so, without fur, the cups sit on top of the ear rather than encircling them completely. We think this model could benefit from a more concave shape to the cups to form a better — maybe warmer — seal around the ears. However, this is not to say that the Sound Huggle didn’t do their job — quite the opposite.
We’ve been asked whether we will start including headphone measurements in our reviews. Well, this will be our first review with measurements. The past few weeks in NYC have been the coldest yet of 2017; ideal for testing the Sound Huggle’s warming effectiveness. We took the Sound Huggle out with us on some chilly dog walks, with one ear covered and one ear exposed to the cold. After 20 minutes, we used an infrared thermometer to check the temperature of each ear. Despite our initial concern about cold air getting in under the Sound Huggle’s cups, we found that the uncovered ear was a frigid 68 degrees, while the ear protected by the Sound Huggle was a toasty 91 degrees. When it comes to warmth, Sound Huggle delivers.
The Sound Huggle is advertised as having “DJ-approved” sound. We’re not exactly sure what that means, but we think they may be promising too much. The Sound Huggle’s sound is impossible to talk about without puns, so we’re just going to embrace it: at best it’s “warm,” but more often “soft” and a little muffled. Of course, this is exactly what you’d expect when there’s a thick layer of fleece between the driver and the ear. However, our attitude towards the Sound Huggle is similar to that of early ANC headphones that altered the sound of the music when noise canceling was activated — the headphone does not deliver an ideal sound, but it makes music possible in scenarios where there might otherwise be none, so that’s a good thing. Use the sound huggle with realistic expectations, and you won’t be disappointed.
The oddly-named Sound Huggle is a portmanteau of “hug” and “snuggle.” Though it doesn’t provide a super-resolving sound, it did keep our ears warm while we listened to music outdoors. Though it’s possible that some over-ear headphones could achieve the same effect with a higher-quality sound, if you’re an IEM user who needs a little something to get through the cold winter months, the Sound Huggle could be exactly what you’re looking for.
Company and Price
Company: Sound Huggle
Model: Sound Huggle