Music and tech investors gave $6 million to an Australian startup making headphones that adjust to your hearing

Prototype of Nura’s Nuraphones. Source: supplied

An Australian startup that invented headphones that optimise sound according to strengths and weaknesses of the user’s ears has scored $6 million seed funding from tech and music industry investors.

Melbourne’s Nura attracted funds from Blackbird Ventures, the former chief of Google Access, Craig Barratt, and music industry figures Ric Salmon and Brian Message from ATC Management, which represents the likes of Nick Cave and PJ Harvey.

The latest capital injection came after the company last year raised a then-Australian record of $2.5 million on Kickstarter in three weeks to create the prototype of its flagship product Nuraphones.

“Nura has developed unique technology that dramatically improves how we hear music. I’m excited to see them delivering on their vision as they begin to ship their first product,” said Barratt.

Nuraphones detect which frequencies the user’s ears hear well and don’t hear well in a 30-second test. The device stores this information in a profile and subsequently boosts sounds for the user at frequencies that need it, resulting in a customised listening experience other headphones can’t match.

The 30-second diagnostic is performed by playing sounds that provoke “otoacoustic emissions” – tiny sounds ears produce that can indicate which frequencies are being delivered to the brain and which aren’t.

“We don’t hear with our ears, we hear with our brains. Nuraphones are the only product that can automatically, precisely and objectively determine how our ears shape the sound our brain perceives. This is fundamental to perfecting the transmission of music and the way consumer audio systems are designed,” said Nura co-founder and chief executive Kyle Slater.

The company said the seed funding would be used to scale up production of its headphones, which have swelled in demand since Business Insider first reviewed a prototype in May last year.

Blackbird Ventures partner Rick Baker said praised the founders’ “passion” for music and hailed Nuraphones as “a revolutionary product”.

“It will blow you away when you hear your personalised sound,” he said. “We have seen Nura grow from three to 12 people in 15 months, build a sophisticated global supply chain and become Australia’s biggest Kickstarter campaign. They have a long term vision and a talented team.”

The full production release date of Nuraphones was not disclosed, but the company said they would be available for $399 “later this year”. Current pre-orders are discounted to $299 per headset and the product is available in both wired and wireless form.

ATC Management’s Salmon said that he and his team are frequently approached about new audio technology.

“Often, like hearing a band’s first demo, it doesn’t lead anywhere but the first time Kyle introduced me to the Nuraphone prototype, it was immediately obvious they were sitting on a game-changer.”

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