The airplane seat with headphones installed into the headrest

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Editor’s note – Monthly tickets CNN is a travel series that focuses on some of the most interesting topics in the travel world. In June, we are heading to the skies to see the latest developments in the interior of the aircraft, including those we are working to change the way we fly.

Hamburg, Germany (CNN) – As wireless headphones become more and more ubiquitous, the standard issues with their tangled cables and multi-sided jack plugs are that airline headphones seem increasingly outdated.

Sure, you can now link personal headphones with some Airplane inflight entertainment systems, but will your battery last for long-haul flights and are you willing to risk losing your expensive earbuds in a seat mechanism that will never be seen again? ?

Enter Euphony, a new airplane seat concept from French aircraft interior designer Saffron Seats, manufactured in collaboration with audio technology company Devilet.

Eliminates the need for a UFO personal headset. Instead, speakers are installed in the headrest of each individual seat, with the sound level perfect so that passengers can enjoy their choice of flight entertainment without being heard or disturbed by their neighbors.

Sefra premiered the concept at the Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) in Hamburg, Germany this month and CNN Travel The opportunity to enter UFO’s “experience room” to explore what the next generation of inflight entertainment might be.

Comfortable setup

Designed for Ufone's business or first class cabin.

Designed for Ufone’s business or first class cabin.

Safran

At first glance, the AIX prototype looks just like a regular business class airplane seat. Safran has made only minor aesthetic adjustments in the headrest design.

But as soon as Inflight Entertainment turns on, the difference becomes clear. The sound blast from the headrest begins, emitting the sounds of an already recorded airplane engine already resonating in the experience room.

A smash hit trailer for the latest Marvel movie “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” appears on the screen. For comparison, before the system switches to some different audio experiences, including podcasts, atmospheric music makes a fuss through the headrest.

It takes me a while to get the headrest to the perfect spot – for maximum sound quality, you want it to be as close to your ear as possible.

But once it’s in the right setting, personal speakers seem to work well. The whirl of a simulated airplane engine mostly becomes background noise and my attention is focused on what I see and hear.

The Euphoni isn’t the cocoon-like experience of sound-canceling headphones, but it’s a comfortable setup and feels more like a movie-watching experience on your bed. This would be great if you were flying with someone else and wanted to chat and communicate as if you were watching a movie.

In the AIX Experience Room, it’s hard to determine if there’s really any sound leakage – there’s only one UFO mock-up. But the fact that you can’t hear the sound properly until you get a headrest next to your ear suggests that it should be relatively leak-proof, at least in business or first class, where passengers are farther away.

Tourists looking for total noise cancellation or privacy still want to use their personal headset, but Paul Wills, a senior architect at Saffron, and his team say the idea behind the UFO is to provide tourists with more options. Travelers can also connect personal devices to the system via Bluetooth, and headrest speakers work when the seat is fully tilted as well as upright.

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Announcements on the flight will not be broadcast by Headrest, as it will also be broadcast in large numbers in the cabin, and Wills’ team wants to avoid “funny mash-mash noises.”

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Instead, any announcement from the captain or cabin crew will only prevent in-flight entertainment, as is already the norm on flights.

Complex design process

Safran partnered with audio experts Devialet to perfect the sound design.

Safran partnered with audio experts Devialet to perfect the sound design.

Safran

Ufone has been in development for the past few years, and Wills and his team say it takes trial and teamwork to complete the concept.

When Sefra first experimented with placing speakers in the headrest, before DeVille came on the scene, Wills says the sound quality was “terrible.”

“At the time it was clear we were good seat designers, but we weren’t sound designers, so we had to find someone who was,” he says.

Devilet CEO Frank Lebochard says the project was a “thrilling” challenge for his group of audio experts.

“An aircraft is probably the most complex sound environment you can imagine, in terms of frequencies – low frequencies, high frequencies – and volume,” Labochard tells CNN Travel.

The difficulty of simultaneously blocking low and high frequency sounds of an airplane at any time led the team to develop UFOs without sound cancellation technology – the designers wanted to avoid blocking one frequency and inadvertently increasing the other.

But Safran and Devialet say Euphony’s current iteration of the cabin will adjust to real-time to mask the noise, and future iterations of the concept will look to further improve the sound mix.

The second challenge was to ensure the best possible sound quality at the lowest weight. Airlines always try to avoid unnecessary extra load – both to reduce their carbon footprint and to avoid additional costs.

The finished product still adds an extra kilo to any pre-existing seat, and that’s partly because Euphony is a business and first-class offer, at least for now.

“At the moment in the economy it may not be right, pure and simple because it weighs so much,” Wills explains.

But in the future, the team believes they will be able to fine-tune the concept for a low-cost cabin.

“It simply came to our notice then.

Safran already has a pending partner launch airline, which will premiere the product on their first class and business class cabins in early 2023. UFO test flights will take place later this year.

The ultimate goal, says Wills, is to fly as “normal” as possible, mimicking the experience of relaxing in your own home.

“When you go home, you don’t watch movies in the evening with your headphones on – it doesn’t work, does it? You can’t chat or yell at your partner or your friends. You need to be free to move. And that’s the idea. You sit down, turn on the TV, play the movie – it’s like home. “

Top Photo Courtesy Safran

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