Are headphones ‘made for women’ really necessary?

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Five years ago, Nicole Rose Stillings wanted a better pair of headphones. As a full-time professional DJ, she thought that most of the ones she wore were much too big and bulky for her head. So she created a few prototypes that were smaller in size, and for a bit of flair, adhered decorations on them (like rhinestones and Swarovski crystals). She began wearing them at her shows and they started getting a lot of attention — primarily from women.

“Well, this is really interesting, I thought,” she told Engadget. “I must not be the only female that feels like headphones aren’t made for them.” After some brainstorming and partnering with manufacturers, she came up with the idea for Rosé Rockers, which are a pair of headphones with artificial flowers placed so it looks like a halo on your head. She wore them while deejaying at a Bravo TV “summer house” finale, and they were a big hit with the guests.

But those flowers weren’t enough for Stillings. “I wanted to make it not just a pretty headphone, but one that would actually fit women better, and sound the way a woman’s ear should hear.” Not only are women’s ears typically smaller in size, they also respond to bass and pitch differently than men, she said.

Several research studies support that claim. A 1997 study from Medscape Women’s Health states that women have better hearing than men at frequencies above 2,000 Hz. Another study in 1997 done by researchers in Northeast Louisiana University noted that women have a greater preference for stronger bass. A 1995 study published in the Journal of Acoustical Society of America also states that men tend to experience hearing loss much earlier in life, with sensitivity that “declines more than twice as fast in men as in women at most ages and frequencies.”

Spurred by the research, Stillings set about making a better version of her Rosé Rockers. The ear cups are a little smaller than average on-ear headphones to fit smaller-sized ears. The audio is also more “balanced” acoustically in a way that she says won’t be damaging to a woman’s hearing. Plus, Stillings made the headphones foldable, so they would easily fit in a purse or handbag. And, of course, they have those flowers on the band, which come in red, blue and purple. The site finally went live earlier this year in May, and they sell for $98 each.

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