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Idaho State University

Grad Focuses on Healthy Hearing

Kirsten Cooper

Idaho State University graduate Spencer Lifferth and the company Motes Audio have launched Kadence headphones, the first headphones specifically designed with the needs of school-age children in mind. Lifferth, ’12, a clinical audiologist began research and development on his new company, Motes Audio, two years ago.

“My business partners and I saw a huge need in the headphone industry to help stop the hearing loss problem in youth from loud music,” Lifferth said.

According to a study by Harvard Medical School Associate Professor Gary Curhan, one in five students suffer permanent hearing loss, most likely due to high-volume sounds.

Spencer Lifferth

In addition to the Kadence headphones, Motes Audio’s product line includes a lolli, which is an adapter that limits the volume on your current wired headphone, and a volume-limiting cord to replace regular auxiliary cords.

The Kadence headphones are designed with the main purpose in mind of making listening to music safer.

“We had to make sure that the quality of the sound was not compromised,” Lifferth said. “After much testing, we were able to find the right balance of keeping sound safe and maintaining great sound quality.”

The Kadence headphones also block out a lot of background noise to eliminate the need to turn up the volume to drown it out.

“Our initial focus when developing the headphones was on students as much of their homework and free time is spent on computers, tablets and phones,” Lifferth said. “Our headphones are designed to fit both children and adults, so anybody will be able to use them and enjoy great sound without worrying about damaging their hearing.”

Eventually, Lifferth and his partners plan to expand their product line to include general hearing protection at home as well as wireless speakers. 

Lifferth said that his education at Idaho State University helped prepare him for his career by creating his love of hearing.

“I know it sounds strange to love hearing, but when getting my doctorate, my professors helped me realize the importance of protecting, maintaining and managing hearing,” Lifferth said.

He said that although there are many audiology programs in the country, he feels that ISU shows a level of detail and care toward its students that is not found in other programs. 

“At Idaho State, I never felt like I was a burden to my professors,” Lifferth said. “They have an open-door policy so we could come to them for information and help whenever it was needed. I wouldn’t trade my education at ISU for anything.”