Headphones Own the Spotlight at CES
New models packed with new features flood the floorFebruary 2013 By Nancy Klosek
If things keep going the way they are, the headphone category just might need its own CES.
That was the impression the show had on attendees, as suppliers deluged booth browsers with hundreds of introductions and fresh features. New units came in at a variety of prices, shapes and sizes. And never before have they been marketed in as many ways, from highly customizable models with team and school logos, to anti-germ-transmitting models, to glow-in-the-dark earbuds that make them easy to find on the nightstand.
Despite the frenzy to fill market niches and satisfy unmet consumer needs, it’s clear the biggest design elements driving headphone innovations are still fashion, acoustics and comfort.
Here’s a rundown of some of the introductions:
• Monster offered an expansive range of headphones, with several lines marketed in partnership with high-profile entertainment and sports figures. Boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard was on hand to usher in the new EA Sports MVP Carbon by Monster headphone ($269.95). The headphone is optimized for immersive gaming and incorporates AstoundSound spatial audio technology.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees talked up the revamped iSport line that now includes sweatproof/washable in-ear models. Model and actor Tyson Beckford touted the Purity Pro wireless over-ear stereo headset, created with Nokia, which matches the Lumia 920 smartphones.
The Diesel-endorsed VEKTR line now includes on-ear military green and mirror-finish chrome models ($279.95 each). Head Monster Noel Leel and entertainer Nick Cannon introduced new youth-focused NCredible headphones, including the N-Tune on-ear and N-Ergy in-ear models.
• SOL REPUBLIC entered the over-ear category with the Master Tracks headphones ($199.99). They feature the bass-enriching X3 Sound Engine, which also offers a tuned midrange sound. Like its Tracks on-ear ’phones, these have interchangeable headbands and cables. They feature articulating ear cushions, damage-resistant FlexTech polymer, three finishes, and optional headbands.
• Audio-Technica debuted its three-model SonicSport line ($49.95 through $99.95; March). The flagship ATH-CP7600 model is designed with a “directing port”—a canal that funnels sound toward the ear canal—and ridged eartips for awareness of ambient sounds. The line is waterproof and washable.
• Lenbrook introduced new models for the NAD and PSB brands. PSB’s M4U1 ($299) passive on-ear model is available in multiple colors, while the NAD VISO HP 50 noise-isolating over-ear headphone ($279) is the brand’s first entry into the category. Both lines feature a detachable cord that plugs into either ear cup.