Tucked between the wedding gown stores and specialist Mediterranean food purveyors of Melbourne's Sydney Road district sits the home of Australia's biggest personal audio success story: nura.
Little more than three years old, nura has already taken the audio world by storm with a unique pair of headphones – called the nuraphone - that offer listeners an extremely personal music experience.
"The thing that's limiting an audio system is you," said Dr. Luke Campbell, co-founder of nura.
"Just like everyone's face is different, just like everyone's voice sounds different, everyone also hears a little differently as well."
"So, you ask yourself, 'how do you make the perfect pair of headphones?' Then you realise that there's no such thing as the perfect pair of headphones, only headphones that are perfect for you."
Just the way you are
It turns out these perfect headphones pack more technology than you will find in any other personal audio device.
"A lot of people are overwhelmed the first time they hear [music through the nuraphone]," said Dr. Campbell. "[This is because there are] special sensors that work out how you hear and how to tune the audio to your individual hearing that allow you to experience audio in a way you never have before."
It may be a bold statement, but the proof is loud and clear; an immersive audio experience tailored to your unique hearing profile.
From the rattle in a snare drum or the overtones of a cello; to the timbre of a bass guitar or the tone of a singer's high C – you can't help but get lost in the sound of the nuraphone; it's almost like hearing your favourite songs again for the first time.
Those brand X headphones you have sitting on your desk or tucked into your carry on luggage may be tried and tested, but they will never beat a personal experience like this.
A beginning song
Ask any tech startup in Australia and you'll hear the same refrain; it's a challenge to do business here. But for the team at nura, the simple idea behind the nuraphone has proven not only commercially successful, but an attractive idea for investors as well.
Founded by Dr. Campbell, Dragan Petrović and Kyle Slater, following research Dr Campbell conducted as part of his PhD, at the University of Melbourne, the team was granted an Entrepreneurial Fellowship by the Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP).
"This tech has been around the decades in the hearing science world," said Dr. Campbell. "We just thought, wouldn't it be awesome if we could bring this to the world so the average person could take advantage of all the cool science in the world."
The strength of the concept was then confirmed by the success of a Kickstarter campaign. What began as a project to raise US$100,000 quickly became a US$1.8-million landslide – the most successful crowdfunding campaign in Australian history.
Backing to the tune of US$20 million from venture capitalists followed – even the San Francisco 49ers got in on the action - with the nuraphone launching to the public in October, 2017. The plaudits for these revolutionary headphones are yet to die down.
When it comes to personal audio, walk into any consumer electronics store and you're spoiled for choice. In Australia alone there are dozens of overseas audio companies, each with a range of perfectly serviceable headphones for a similar price to the nuraphone - $499.
Unless your company's figurehead is of rap pedigree, being worthy competition next to these industry leaders is no small feat. For nura, this was achieved by using the best technology available.
"We're at a point now where it's really good for the user," said Dr. Campbell. "The audio technology we have now at a really reasonable price – like the DAC in the nuraphone, which you couldn't get five years ago – is incredible."
"We use a technology called Aptx HD, which is basically the highest quality variation of Bluetooth you can have. If you blind test audiophiles with golden ear audio files, half of them can tell the difference, half of them cannot.
"We also have five different connector cables, so provided your source is lossless and all your components are lossless, you can enjoy lossless audio all the way to your ears."
One thing that nura has proved beyond a doubt is that you don't need to spend big to enjoy the kind of dream audio experience you'd expect from a six-figure sound system.
In a way, the company is democratising high-end audio and giving the average person a chance to enjoy their favourite music with a new set of ears. Dr. Campbell puts it perfectly:
"If you're not the person who has the knowledge, experience or money to go to a super high-end store and try on a bunch of headphones, knowing exactly what you're listening for, then you can get our headphones and they'll sort that process out for you, so they become the perfect headphone for you."