A blog from Tinnitus Week sponsor, Flare

Tell us about Flare Audio

I started Flare in 2010, with the aim of designing loudspeakers that produced mirror image sound with as little distortion as possible. These loudspeakers successfully provided professional sound at concerts and festivals. We then decided to miniaturise our tech, to design products that would improve everyone’s sound, not just sound at live events.

We’ve spent ten years developing technologies that produce less distortion than traditional devices, including earphones and loudspeakers. More recently we’ve focused on passive technologies that are worn inside our ears, to improve what - and how, we hear.

What does passive in-ear technologies mean?

Passive just means non-electrical, so a passive in-ear technology is a small in-ear device that alters the way you hear sound, such as our ear protectors.

What effect can distortion have on our ears?

Distortion can make sounds feel uncomfortable, as well as affect the quality of the sounds we hear. After spending years trying to eliminate distortion in sound producing devices I became aware there’s a significant amount of distortion that is added to sound by our own ears.

I studied HRTF (Head Related Transfer Function) and discovered that all human ears are adding mid-frequency resonance (distortion) to everything we hear.  Not only does this distortion drastically affect our perception of sound quality, but it causes us to become stressed when we hear certain sounds or frequencies.

Many years ago this was a useful way of alerting us to noises around us, like if we needed to hear the snap of a twig alerting to the threat of a wild animal. However, in the modern day there are many noises which sit in the 2kHz – 8kHz area (mobile notifications, household appliance noise, shrieks, cutlery, eating sounds etc) that trigger our stress response and load us with unnecessary alerts.

What have you designed to help combat this?

Our latest product Calmer® is a low-cost, passive, soft silicone ear wave-guide that changes the way sound is delivered into our ears. It is very discrete and has been designed to reduce stress and improve the sound quality we hear.

Does Calmer help with tinnitus? 

It came as a huge surprise when we started to receive feedback that Calmer was helping some people with their tinnitus. Calmer reduces ear resonance by as much as 21dB without affecting a person’s ability to hear, so reducing daily exposure sound can only be a good thing. As to why Calmer is helping some people that already suffer from tinnitus, we are working hard to understand how Calmer is helping these people and potentially develop this further. And, for those that it doesn’t help, we’re offering a 100-day money back guarantee.