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The journal

VK-X : the design

Private debuting

DesiGood Morning everyone,


I am excited to unveil the design for our VK-X wireless headphones this morning. As we have mentioned in previous, the visual representations of the design will only be made available until Midnight today to avoid any leaks before the official launch campaign and the publication of our official photos.

I am inviting you to join us on the webinar that I have organized for this morning at 11 AM (EDT).

The following is the link to join the live webinar: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_OdHWQWIKQDi1cGfFaUPyuw

 

1) Our design approach

 

Offer an alternative to what has previously existed is my primary motivation and vision since our launch in 2012. This is our point of departure as well as the base for each and every new product we create. We prioritize the design of our products, as it is not only what makes us different but also what makes us stand out in the headphone market.

 


Tadao Ando, Espace de méditation. Paris, 1995

 

For each classification of the object we are working on, we are sensitive to its temporal nature and we look to find a certain singularity and intemporality in our designs. In function of technological changes and our growing understanding of the market, we are able to preserve this design while constantly evolving our products. As a result, to change the design of one our previous headphones, for example that of the VK series, would be to completely redefine our definition of what a quality headphone means, as if our past work should be redefined. We seek a single, unified definition for each of our lines: VK, ODS, etc.

This last objective obviously becomes an important mechanical constraint as technology changes: adapting the newest technology to fit our intemporal design is a technical challenge that we face with each update of our existing products.

 

2) The VK-X


For the VK-X, we have preserved the design of the VK series. The principle mechanical constraint for us has been adapting the technology of wireless headphones to fit the design of our signature aluminium ear cups as well as our minimal leather headband connecting our headphones. Our working guidelines have been to remain simple and to seek minimalism in each and every choice, in a way that the functional aspect may remain unified with an elegant design, avoiding unnecessary changes. As for our other VK headphones, we have worked with the designer Eugeni Quitllet, in order to transform our goals and constraints into a beautiful design object. I am presenting here below the broad design points, which were utilised in the design of the VK-X.

 

An over-ear headphone

The VK-X is an over-ear headphone, a choice that we made to increase the comfort of our headphones and to reduce overall pressure on the ears. This choice was also made to further isolate sound thanks to the new design of our larger ear cushions.

 

Headphone Control: Appearance of headphone controls

For the wireless VK-X headphones, we had to reimagine how we control our headphones. We decided to use visible, streamlined buttons, inspired by analogue knobs from high-end amplifiers, which give the user the sensation of control and reliability. As a result, you will find on the left headphone a simple button, which will control “intelligent” features of the VK-X (start, stop, pairing feature) and, on the right side, a knob allowing to control the “audio” features of the VK-X (sound, next song, pause, accept phone call). We did not want to use a touch control features as we found them to not be very practical, but would also have been an important design constraint which would have forced us to divide our single unit-aluminum ear cups in two. As you can see, our two control features will be a new design element, creating a streamlined design by appearing to be a prolongation of the unit connecting the leather headband and the aluminum cups.

 

Light Indicator: studying a discrete LED

This part of our design is still ongoing an represents an important design challenge for us. We would like to create a halo light around the “intelligence” control feature on the left side of the headphone so that the VK-X can “communicate” with the user. This discrete LED light will not blink, but will radiate during use of the wireless headphone and will communicate with the user thanks to different colors to the rhythm of respiration (no blue light, not harsh on the eyes, colors that are warm and reassuring)

 

Difficulties and unknown design challenges

 

To date, the design of our wireless headphones is all but finished; however there are still some difficulties and unknown design challenges. The principle reason for these difficulties, as mentioned in previous, is a problem of space, as certain design features must still be incorporated into the design of the VK-X,

  • The light indicator, including the position of the LED lights as well as the guide light to ensure a seamless experience
  • The possibility of a battery that may be replaced by the user, which was a feedback we had heard from a number of users. In fact, in order to maximise the life of our battery, we will have to maximise its size within the ear cups, which means that it will not be easily accessible. This represents a challenge if we are considering the option of user replaceable batteries.

 

Concerning the comfort of the VK-X, the form and the angle by which we position the over-hear cushions will also be an important element. I am working on different prototype solutions, in order to test a number of possibilities and will certainly keep you apprised as we move forward on this point.

 

Please do not hesitate to react 🙂

Baptiste

 

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21 Comments on "VK-X : the design"

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E.D
Guest
Hello, this looks great overall! Couple of notes: 1. are the drill holes supposed to be facing forward when the headphones are worn? I’d much rather the front-facing side be smooth. 2. the LED thing worries me. I’m not a fan of having them at all, I’d tolerate them for the functional aspect, however I’m pretty sure I’ll hate the pulsing thing. Since the headphones are pretty eye-catching in their own right, I’d be wary of anything that crosses the line into tacky. When you have a proven commitment to no-compromise audio quality and an iconic, yet understated design (big… Read more »
Lucas Dosso
Editor
Hi! and thank you for your comment E.D ! 1. The drill holes are supposed to be facing backward when headphones are worn. However, since we placed microphones for the ANC and for calls around those holes, we will be checking if it works. If not, we might put them forward, or find another solution. 2. Thank you for your feedback. We need to put an indicator somewhere, but maybe it is not forced to breath when you use the headphones. Just while charging for example. 3. Your supposition is correct. It is not possible to place the port on… Read more »
Thom
Guest
Looks great – well done to the whole team! Would be nice to get the preview rendered in black too 😉 Physical buttons – yes please!!! I’m assuming the led would only illuminate based on user interaction or when charging, I would definitely find that useful. The charging port and cutout seem a bit unfortunate – do we need one at all or could these be charged using qi wireless charging? I’m not bothered about replaceable batteries at all so agree with fitting as much battery life as possible into the available space – would be nice to be able… Read more »
Lucas Dosso
Editor
Dear Thom, thank you for your comment and feedback, and please find our answer below. We have thought of wireless charging, but it would be a whole new technology asset for us and going wireless is already a big step. We will for sure think about this option in the future. You will be able to listen with your USB-C cable in case your battery is low. Updatable firmware: yes. this is fundamental for us in order to fix little bug or update the headphone. Sound quality: we will be posting soon about this topic, but The VK-X will support… Read more »
Malene
Guest

This looks very nice <3 A couple of thought: What does the LED actually do? You won't be seeing it when you are wearing the headphones so I'm having trouble understanding why we "need" it.
Yes to the psychical controls 🙂
I don't really care if the battery can be replaced but I hope you will still make it so we are able to use the headphone with a wire ex. when traveling a long way or using an old MP3 player.

Lucas Dosso
Editor

Dear Malene, thank you for your comment 🙂

The LED is used to indicate battery levels, charging modes or appairing modes when you don’t wear the headphones. While listening, it is true that you could not see it and we still need to decide whether to make it breathe or not in this use case. As mentioned in other responses, you will be able to listen through USB-C with your device, but might need an adapter if you want to use an MP3 player.

Do not hesitate to react or ask something else !

Sami
Guest
This is exactly what I expected! Very nice design. However I have to express some concerns about the Earcups’ movements. From the 1st picture I can see that the earcups can rotate along only one axis! That means, if the earpads are laid flat on the ears/cheeks, there is a risk that the headband will apply too much force on them. I hope you guys did take that into consideration. Also, don’t you think that the headband needs more padding? I will join my voice to others by saying that the LED should not be always on, in my opinion.… Read more »
Lucas Dosso
Editor

Thank you a lot for your comment Sami! Comfort is our first priority for the VK-X. The over-ear design should improve it a lot, and we will be testing it very soon as the first earpad prototypes are being assembled now. Baptiste will keep you updated on this, but if the comfort tests are not successful, we might consider the option of adding an axis to the earpads.

Johnson
Guest

Seems everyone is a designer… – Thankfully we can leave the decision making to the design professionals.

Nice work

Lucas Dosso
Editor

Hi Johnson, and thank you for your comment 🙂 At your disposition if you have any feedback on the overall project

Louis
Guest

Looks promising! I’m probably getting those.
A cool feature I’ve been looking for while searching for noise-cancelling headphones, is the ability to plug them in when they run out of battery. I just can’t see myself give up on music/noise cancellation for a couple hours because my headphones ran out of battery…
An alternative to this, is to offer to be able to remove the batteries. Then I can get 2 and swap them 😉
Good idea on providing actual buttons instead of awkward touch stuff!

Lucas Dosso
Editor

Dear Louis, thanks for reacting! We appreciate your support. The removable battery feature is a complex one, we will keep you posted. In any case, the VK-X will have the ability to listen through USB-C when out of battery

E.V.
Guest

Nice and soft leather and minimalism is the key for me. ????
LED could be the size of one of these four holes. Design would stand out with less light distraction or even without any at all.

Lucas Dosso
Editor

Dear E.V., thank you for commenting and sharing your feedback, especially on the LED. Noted! At your disposition

Stephan
Guest

Hey is it olny a Bluetooth Connection or is it possible also to connect with a cable for high fidelity sound or when the battery are empty?

Adrian
Guest

Ah, I totally missed the unveiling. Looking forward to see the further development! Best of luck from Norway!

Adrian
Guest
Oh, one thing about comfort in wearing. Some headphones can be quite tiring on the ears, as I wear glasses. The part of the glasses behind the ear gets pressed tight, and it gets pretty soar over time. My current solution to this with my B&W P7 is to tilt my glasses so the stems are above the headphones’ cushions. I’m not too happy with this current solution ???? Looking forward to see your take on over-ears! On-ears are unbearable using glasses ???? I loved my VK-1’s though.. until I had a break-in in my apartment. ???? Maybe VK-X will… Read more »
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