“The quiet isn’t as different as it wanted to be, but they’re still solid headphones.”
Good battery life
Clear, tasty sound
Effective active noise cancellation
Inconsistent touch controls
Special features are not noticeable
Know has hit the portable sound scene with an unusual focus: these are not just headphones for music, as the company will tell you, but above all they are meant to be tools for knowledge, with functions and a long-term design, listening, podcasts and Can record audiobooks.
Standing out from a bunch of high quality headphones is a bold strategy, and it only pays off if Know can back up your claims with a high quality pair of cans. With the $ 250 (ear?) Value of active noise canceling headphones, we’re going to answer this question: are these new headphones worth it?
Out of the box
If you regularly open as many product packages as I do, it becomes a bit monotonous. With headphones, there is a carrying case or pouch, a charging cable, possibly a 3.5mm extension cable, and definitely an excessive amount of reading material. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.
At least that’s what I thought.
Nick Woodard / Digital Trends
It’s a refreshing sight to come across packaging like Know Calm’s. Yes, all of these standard accessories are included, but they’re wrapped in the box with a sense of creativity that I haven’t seen that much with headphones on as a company. Plus, for some reason, Know includes both a notepad and a work of art in the mix, making it almost closer to a goodie bag than a collection of operating tools. I’m not saying every business should follow this out-of-the-box packaging style, but I’m saying this piqued my curiosity before I even turned on my pair of Calm cans.
When I turned them on, a very casual, non-robotic female voice let me know that the headphones had automatically entered pairing mode. After I found it and connected it to my phone, the same casual voice told me that my device had been paired in the same tone a baker said on a quiet downtown morning that my order of donuts was ready. In other words, it’s the calming presence you’d expect from headphones with this namesake.
The Know Calm are like most of the other headphones I’ve tried in that they have built-in Bluetooth 5 technology. At this point I expect them to be free of pairing issues and full range. Both sounded true again, and the quiet survived the endeavor in my back yard and back without getting out.
I usually don’t talk about the tote bag first, but I’ll make an exception here. The case for the Calm is more like a duvet for a luxury bed than a protective cover for headphones, and I mean that in a good way. The case is soft yet durable, with an outside pocket that I would assume could easily hold any cables you might need to bring with you. With a buckle on the back of the case for attaching to backpacks or luggage as a bonus, this really seemed like one of the better soft tote bags for headphones I’ve seen so far.
Nick Woodard / Digital Trends
The Calm are available in black, sage or plum gray. The earcups and headband are so inviting and comfortable on your head that I was able to listen consistently for almost a full day without feeling the fatigue that less friendly headphones could produce. And what I think is true is that on the inside of the left and right cups it says “left ear” and “right ear”, in contrast to the traditional L or R. We mostly talk about small, unimportant details here, but it is something that shouldn’t go unnoticed. Every step of the way, Know seems to make a conscious effort to stand out from others. So far it works.
Every step of the way, Know seems to make a conscious effort to stand out from others. So far it works.
I don’t really like the controls on the Know Calm though. Outside of the power / pairing button and the noise canceling button, which both work as intended, most of the controls for the Calm are done via touch controls on the right auricle. To be fair, some of the commands worked fine, e.g. B. swiping back and forth to switch tracks and I think these controls are altogether usable. But it was certainly annoying dealing with inconsistent responses to trying to pause a track or turn the volume down. It might be that my fingers aren’t well suited for the calm touch sensors, but it was irritating in both cases. In comparison, the Razer Opus has buttons for each of these commands. Personally, this was far easier to operate than hoping your touch would be interpreted correctly.
Know takes up to 24 hours of playback with a full battery charge, which is sufficient for this price range. This is better than the Microsoft Surface Headphones 2, whose price is exactly the same and which are on a par with the cheaper Razer Opus. There are inexpensive cans like the JLab Audio Studio ANC that have better battery life, but you lose many other benefits along the way. Even so, 24 hours seems fair for the Know Calm at this price.
The Calm can be charged using a Qi-certified wireless charger. This is not included, but you can use the included USB-C charging cable. In either case, according to Know, you can play for three hours on the charger after five minutes. Again, this is better than the Surface Headphones 2, as is the Beats Solo3 Wireless, and can potentially compete with the Sony WH-1000XM4, which gives you five hours of playback time after a 10 minute charge.
Know partially compensates for the irritating control problem with compatibility with Siri for Apple users and Google Assistant for Android fans. I can just say “Hey, Google” and quietly execute any commands I might have had minor issues with using the touch controls. I still think the touch controls should be tweaked to be as easy to use as possible, but the ability to get my smart assistant to carry out my bids fills the gap well enough for now.
The Calm is also equipped with a sensor that automatically pauses and plays when you take it off and put it back on. I caught them playing a few times while they were still around my neck, but for the most part, this was a useful addition to those headphones that worked well.
Know has a fascinating technology called “Mindshine Technology”. Basically, this feature processes audio to mimic how your ears naturally process the sound. According to Know, instead of adjusting the sound to a simultaneous wave pattern, it reflects around your head to create the effect of hearing it as you might hear it from an external source.
Nick Woodard / Digital Trends
It’s not easy for me to see the weight of this technology when I compare the sound quality of the Calm to similar headphones. With some selections it seems more tangible, with others it’s hard to distinguish. The truth is, it may not really matter: no matter how much that technology goes into the sound quality of the Calm or not, these headphones sound really good.
I would put these headphones next to comparable alternatives like the Razer Opus in terms of sound. The Calm are remarkably clear and provide a great sense of stereo separation when playing songs like The Doobie Brothers’ Listen to the Music. Part of Know’s pitch, of course, is that the Calm headphones are designed to do more than just listen to music. As an avid podcast listener, I can attest that they sound great for hearing the spoken word. Especially at a time when podcast interviews are conducted over Zoom calls and audio quality is degraded, I was able to listen to my weekly dose of Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend and Crime Junkies with incredibly clear sound.
The calm are remarkably clear, with a good sense of stereo separation.
I don’t think the Calm is the budget alternative to the Sony WH-1000XM4 when it comes to sound, although most headphones at this price point are understandably difficult to compete with, and as they are much cheaper she probably shouldn’t. That said, I think the Calm offer solid audio quality for what they cost, and I don’t think anyone will be disappointed with how these headphones sound.
Active noise cancellation
Besides the Mindshine technology, Know has another technology that I hadn’t heard of before. It’s called Hush Active Noise Cancellation and, according to Know, is the first ANC technology that “combats noise in the medium to high frequency range and in the low frequency range that conventional ANC headphones process”.
Nick Woodard / Digital Trends
I can’t say this is the first technology to put both ends of the frequency range in its crosshairs, but what I can say is this: After testing the quiet in various environments, these headphones have above average, effective active noise cancellation. I’m not exactly able to take a flight during the world’s current climate, so I didn’t get a chance to see the quiet respond to aircraft engine drones or other low frequencies, but rather with socially distant steps in the park and on busy roads These headphones have proven themselves very well when it comes to blocking out neighboring conversations and unwanted traffic noise.
T.These headphones were very good at blocking out neighboring conversations and unwanted traffic noise.
There are three settings available with this active noise canceling button: low, high and off. Plus, you can put your hand over the right ear cup to amplify outside noise when you want to speak to a passerby quickly, just like we see it with the Sony XM4s. It’s a bit of a cumbersome gesture, but it works well and rounds off an effective ensemble with active noise cancellation. Not according to Sony standards of course, but who is it these days?
With his Calm headphones, Know made targeted decisions with various details and design aspects to make his cans stand out from the crowd. Functionally, there is nothing that completely blows competitors out of the water, so I cannot say that they are successful in this endeavor. But the Calm are solid headphones for the price, and they should be treated as such.
Are there any better alternatives?
For just listening to music, I could go for the Razer Opus as it offers similar features for $ 50 less. However, if you regularly listen to more than music, I would prefer the clarity of the calm. Or, spend an extra $ 100 and get the best headphones, the Sony WH-1000XM4.
How long will they last?
Know has a one-year limited warranty and a 45-day guarantee that you will love these headphones or your money back. The company is confident these headphones will work for the foreseeable future, and I see no reason to doubt it.
Should you buy it?
Yes. Unpacking the Know Calm headphones gave me hope that these would be different from anything else I tested. While testing dampened the reality of this idea, it nonetheless proved that these headphones have solid features and audio quality. If you have $ 250 to spend, you won’t be sorry if you choose to take it easy.