Review: Humu Augmented Audio Cushion, a pricy way to immerse yourself in sound
I love music, and am perfectly happy to pay for good-quality audio – but $279 for a speaker which delivers only ok audio quality doesn’t sound like a great deal.
However, music isn’t what the Humu Augmented Audio Cushion is all about …
HUMU Augmented Audio Cushion is the only cushion that brings you an immersive audio experience. Hear and feel all the sounds of your favorite entertainment.
- Personal 3D sound and vibration
- Patented hifi technology used by cinemas
- Won’t disturb those around you
- For movies, games, music, or relaxation
Experience sound in ways never before possible.
More prosaically expressed, it’s a stereo speaker system embedded into a cushion, with a vibration generator for low frequencies.
Look and feel
The Humu looks rather like a pillow made from a mesh fabric. It measures approximately 19 inches wide by 12 inches deep by 6 inches high. It’s available in a choice of light gray and graphite (very dark gray).
The material is a soft, velour type fabric which the company describes as artificial suede. It feels springy, rather than squishy, to the touch, and is a very comfortable place to rest your head.
There’s a handle at one end, which makes for a convenient way to carry it from one room to another. The other end has a flap that covers the power button, two indicator lights (power and Bluetooth pairing), a 3.5mm line-in socket and a microUSB socket for charging.
Humu suggests that you can use the cushion for music.
The high-quality, binaural, 3D-stereo sound out-performs big-brand headphones. It also clearly reproduces frequencies below 60Hz, which is something you won’t experience with headphones.
Decent-quality headphones go as low as 20Hz, so I’d quibble with this claim. What you do get from music is an experience similar to headphones in terms of a binaural effect – music from the left channel heard only through the left ear, the right channel heard only through the right ear. Some people prefer this to the more blended sound you get from speakers, which is why some audiophiles favor headphones over speakers.
As far as audio quality for music is concerned, however, the Humu is a distinctly average speaker. The binaural effect and vibration for very low frequencies makes it a distinct experience, but not, in my view an outstanding one.
By this, I don’t mean it’s terrible for music. It’s fine for what it is. It’s just that the audio quality doesn’t compete with B&W, Sonos or, indeed, HomePod speakers.
Movies & TV shows
Movies are another matter.
For the right movies – primarily action ones with sounds like thumping helicopter blades, people running, car chases and other ‘big’ sounds – it really does deliver an experience closer to that of a cinema than a typical home TV setup.
We don’t have a TV ourselves, relying on Netflix on Macs or iPads for the limited viewing we do, but I’ve watched movies at the homes of friends with surround-sound setups, and I’d say that what this delivers is at least as good as those.
It’s obviously limited to a single person, but you really do feel like you’re immersed in the action. If you watch a lot of action movies, and do so on your own, this would justify the purchase alone.
But the real market for the Humu, in my view, is games. I’m not much of a gamer, but I do have a few on my iPad, and when I fired-up Asphalt 8 for a bit of mindless driving fun, it really transformed the experience. When I could feel as well as hear the engine and impact, it really became a significantly more immersive experience.
I downloaded a bunch of action-type games to try, and it really does significantly enhance the experience.
This, I think, is Humu’s real target market: gamers.
Pricing and conclusions
$279 is a lot of money for a speaker which is only ‘ok’ when it comes to music. Fun as the binaural effect and bass vibration are, that’s more novelty territory, not $280 territory.
If you watch a lot of action movies, the price starts to make more sense. People do spend hundreds of dollars on surround-sound systems, and I’d say gives a better experience – though of course, only for one person. So it’s a somewhat niche market.
But if you play a lot of games, then I think Humu becomes a very appealing accessory. Still not a cheap one, but people pay similar sums for steering wheel and pedal sets or seats – and some people pay thousands for gaming accessories. And unlike many accessories, this is one you can use with any device which supports Bluetooth, from an iPhone through a Mac to a PS4. So if you’re a heavy-duty gamer, and are looking to be even more immersed in your games, Humu could well be for you.
We don’t often cover crowdfunding campaigns, as too many of them turn out to be vaporware – but this one is fully funded and the finished product exists.