How can we design a product that curates a unique shared music listening experience?
Nicolas Jaar and AIAIAI reached out to Kyle DeHovitz and me with the idea to build a four-way audio splitter. We were excited to collaborate with them on the product design and make it a reality. We saw it as an opportunity to design a product that encourages people to listen to music together, and as a focused activity.
Over the past few years my friends and I have started to have listening parties. We get together and listen to one album in it’s entirety. It’s a rare and unique experience to focus your entire attention on one album and listen to it in one sitting. We’ve found that we discover details in the music that we wouldn’t usually hear and generally feel a deeper connection with the music.
We began the process of designing the splitter by looking into some of the core differences between headphones and speakers. We found that listening to music through headphones is both a personal and isolating experience because music is played directly into the listeners ear. Headphones also give off the social cue that the listener is focused and should not be disrupted. Speakers can also be listened to in isolation, but they encourage more social engagement with other people. Listeners can easily talk over the sound, and because they aren’t teathered to a device, they can pair the music with other activities.
By combining the social cues of listening to music with headphones on with group setting, we hope to create a unique experience where listers focused their attention on the music, but are also feel a shared connection to the music with the other listeners.