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Headphones

Choose from which direction you want to drown out the world with the Hero headphones

The Hero headphones let you choose what to block out with directional ambient sound. You can also program specific voices that you want to hear no matter what.

The Stages line includes two products: noise-canceling headphones called Hero, and a device called the Sidekick that lets you retrofit your headphones of choice.

Chris Monroe/CNET

It's great to have a set of headphones to block out the world. But what if you want to let a few voices in? That's the concept behind the Stages Hero, a set of noise-canceling headphones we spotted at CES in Las Vegas on Thursday. The headphones include a circle of eight mics that lets you choose a specific direction from which to hear ambient sound. So if you're talking to the co-worker who sits in the cubicle across from you, but you want to block the co-workers on either side of you, you can select to hear ambient noise from your left and right sides, but not your front. You can also set key words ("Hey, Ashlee") and program specific voices that will break through the ambient sound.

Stages will launch an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign for the headphones on January 12. They'll cost $299 as an early-bird special on Indiegogo (converted to £243 or AU$409). The campaign will also include the $199 Sidekick (converted to £162 or AU$272), a device that looks like an Amazon Echo Dot that connects (with a jack or Bluetooth) to your existing headphones and retrofits them with the same skills as the Hero headphones.

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