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Sonic Lamb review: You can now feel the music

I have been reviewing headphones for well over a decade now, while headphones are getting better all the time, offering superb audio quality at lower price points, it is rare to find innovation that alters your music consumption experience altogether. And it is a moment of pride when such a change is triggered by an Indian company. This is exactly what Sonic Lamb from Mangalore-based Rapture Innovation Labs is trying to do.

Simply put, Sonic Lamb is a high-fidelity headphone that uses an additional proprietary driver that converts audio signals into mechanical impulses, transforming the unique ear pads into a virtual diaphragm that allows users to feel the music. The company claims that instead of directly transferring low-frequency sound as air pressure waves into the ear, in Sonic Lamb the low-frequency audio is directed to the skin and bone as a mechanical impulse through the “wooferpads”.

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But does this really translate into a unique listening experience? Let’s see.

Sonic Lamb The headbands are cushioned for long hours of listening though they tend to become a bit hot inside in sultry Indian conditions (Image credit: Nandagopal Rajan/The Indian Express)

The Sonic Lamb is a large, plush headphone that covers your ears and nestles them in very comfortable ear pads. The headbands are cushioned for long hours of listening though they tend to become a bit hot inside in sultry Indian conditions. The ear cups are large with the right one housing most of the controls from power to volume and mode control dial. There is a 3.5mm port as well as a USB-C port for charging.

To start with, the headphones do come with a regular Hear mode where the hybrid driver does not kick in much. As I switched on the headphones for the first time, I could hear their signature note boom inside the headphones, giving a good indicator of the things to come. I started with the Hear mode which offers a very rich audio profile that is slightly partial to bass. But it is not a bass-heavy experience but a mellow wrapping kind of effect even as everything else comes across with good clarity.

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Listening to a song like Creep by Kina Grannis, the vocals shine through even as the bass gives the guitar a soul of its own. When I switch to the next Feel mode, suddenly the guitar gets a boost… almost like adding a sense of aggression to the pain. But the vocals are still where they were and this is the effect of the two drivers in each ear. The dynamic driver controls the air and the hybrid driver passes on the feel slowly the area around your ears.

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As I move to the third Immerse mode with Teenage Dirtbag I can feel the music on the ear cups. Some elements of the song are moved to the feel layer, mostly the guitar and percussion. I remembered I had just the playlist for this. I switched to Karasuma by David Kechley and I could feel the trumpets too in this amazing composition that strains even the best headphones out there. With Cindy McTee’s Circuits, I felt as if my head was next to the bass drums. You get the feel with a lot of chorus too, like in Leonard Cohen’s Boogie Street. This headphone with its sound stage takes you to a different level altogether. It is an immersive experience, I felt as if I was listening to Cohen sing live… something I will never be able to do in real life.

Sonic Lamb The fourth Beast mode is for when you are missing a Punjabi wedding or a Goa nightclub (Image credit: Nandagopal Rajan/The Indian Express)

The fourth Beast mode is for when you are missing a Punjabi wedding or a Goa nightclub. Here you feel as if your ears have fallen into a pool of something powerfully narcotic. It works for those kinds of songs too. For instance, this is made for those who like Du Hast and Tub Thumbing, though it gives a new layer to even familiar songs like Rangisari and Anandadhara.

Frankly, I was blown away when I first got a demo of the Sonic Lamb. It was like the first time I saw a movie in 3D, a mind-bending experience. But then when 3D made it to television, after initial awe you don’t really use the feature. The last mode of the headphones will have to be like that, a feature you know you have access to but want to use sparingly.

Where this works very well is when you want to watch say a Conjuring on the TV alone at home and safer the living daylight out of yourself. For movies, the third Immerse mode is perfect.

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The company thinks there is a gaming angle to this too and I can only agree, especially with the Beast mode where you can feel someone sneaking on you from behind. The company is hence giving a detachable boom-type microphone for those users.

The Sonic Lamb is the most interesting headphone that has been on my ears for quite some time. It is a good headphone that offers rich playback without distorting what the musician intended. The hybrid driver does give you the option to dial up the experience, quite literally. But I feel the extreme mode might be a bit of overkill for just leisurely listening, which is what a lot of us want to do most of the time. The Beast, and to a certain extent the Immerse mode, can get a bit exhausting over long durations.

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At an offer price of Rs 15,999, the Sonic Lamb is a great headphone for those who love to take their music listening to the next level. However, the lack of active noise cancelling is a dampener at this price point. But remember this is Indian innovation, still so rare in the audio space and that is one good reason for us to support this brand.

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