Asius lead engineer Stephen Ambrose has a long history of experiencing this fatigue himself.
the original inventor of wireless in-ear monitors -- which are now used almost universally by stage musicians to hear a particular sound mix while they're performing -- and he's
spent years engineering in-ear monitors for everyone from Michael Bolton and Clint Black to Bon Jovi and Steve Miller.
"I've mixed on stage with lots of different professional bands," Ambrose
"And we noticed that after three hours of performing, our ears would ache."
figured out a way to tweak earbuds to eliminate the audio fatigue, and the fix can also increase the vibrancy of the sound.
The tweak amounts to creating a hole in the device that is then sealed with a gossamer membrane -- a sort of mock eardrum, or tympanic membrane -- that is able to absorb the more forceful sound waves from the speaker, taking the pressure off the real eardrum.
The gadget can fight the fatigue and allow listeners to hear "louder" music even with the volume turned down.
The same technology can be applied to hearing aids.
has tested the idea on the hearing aids of one of his longtime friends, Gary Moore.
getting similar responses from other people who use hearing aids.
"Hearing-aid wearers have been able to turn their hearing aids down by half or two-thirds because now the lower volumes sound much better, much louder, much more balanced and they're hearing a lot more details."
colleagues are also working on creating a housing for an in-ear speaker that would, essentially, be made entirely of the fake tympanic membrane.
The ear piece looks like a tiny balloon that inflates in the ear, sealing the canal.
expects that his
group's discovery will spur more research into the ear's protective reflex.
"We didn't just happen upon a gadget," he