YouTuber Don (aka NovaSpirit Tech) spends a fair bit of time with his ears covered, and he insists the Raspberry Pi Pico-powered Ploopy headphones are “in a different league” to any shop-bought ones he has listened through before.
The foam elements, tiny screws, and electronics are the only parts of Ploopy headphones that aren’t 3D-printed. Even the squiggly bendy headband piece which adjusts the size of the headphones is 3D-printed.
The digital-to-analogue-convertor (DAC) inside the headphones, which is responsible for the sound quality, is powered by Raspberry Pi Pico. Users can stick it in bootloader mode to upload their own firmware. Ploopy headphones also have their own software, so users can adjust every band and set the frequencies however they want.
There’s also an amplifier board and driver flex boards inside.
These musical ear muffs were designed to push what’s possible with 3D printers. The black disc in the image below is a Helmholtz resonator for tuned frequency response, something much more feasible with 3D-printing. Helmholtz resonance is named for Hermann von Helmholtz, who invented (among tons of other things) a device to identify the various frequencies and musical pitches: Helmholtz resonance is the thing that happens when you’ve got one car window slightly open and the wind comes through in a way that makes your ears throb until you balance it out by slightly opening another window.
While I recognise the car windows bit, I couldn’t even begin to try and figure out how this phenomenon applies to music, so it’s great that our good friend Wikipedia is here to try and explain it to you if you want to get into all that. it turns out you can use Helmholtz resonance in bass-reflex speaker enclosures — and headphones like Ploopy — by making a resonator whose frequency is tuned to the lower end of the speaker’s range, improving the sound of those low, bass-y tones.
Comfy headphones are the best kind
The perforated plastic means your ears don’t get sweaty and uncomfortable, even during hours of gaming. You can also hear some background noise, which Don liked as it meant his young son could shout for him and he’d still hear it, even if he was wearing the headphones. The ear discs are also bigger than most shop-bought models so your whole ear sits comfortably inside them.
Better still, Ploopy’s innovative design is open source, so the community can choose their own colours and switch out parts as they wish. That goes for the code too.
This glorious GitHub treasure chest is stuffed with all of the design files, assembly, and programming guides you need to make your own set of Ploopy headphones.