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Idaho State University alumnus Spencer Lifferth helps create new company, Motes Audio

July 13, 2017
Kirsten Cooper

photo of Spencer Lifferth
Spencer Lifferth

POCATELLO – 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 earned a doctorate degree in audiology in 2012 and has worked as a clinical audiologist. Two years ago he began research and development on a new company, Motes Audio.

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.

All products are available for pre-order now, and are expected to be delivered early in the fall.

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.

“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. “One of my major motivations was to create a product that I would trust to put on my kids and know it wouldn’t damage their hearing.”

He also said another problem was the price and quality of headphones they saw on the market, especially for children. To combat this, Lifferth and his partners aimed to create headphones that sound great while still being affordable and safe.

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

The headphones, lolli, and cord all use the same technology that limits the output of the sound. However, Lifferth and his partners also had other goals beyond keeping the sound soft.

“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.

Although these headphones were initially designed with the needs of students in mind, they are also beneficial for people who want to use them for everyday purposes.

“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.”

For more information on Motes Audio or to pre-order any of their products, visit