An Ear on the Headphone Market
The competitive volume was ratcheted up considerably in the headphone category last year as more companies entered the market and traditional audio suppliers capitalized on the consumer frenzy for a better listening experience on their smartphones and other music players. This year promises even more excitement. Here's what some of the top manufacturers had to say about the newest headphone technology and design in 2011:
Mark Karnes, Managing Director, Consumer Products Division, Etymotic: The headphone business is diverse, but our focus is still on in-ear-canal models with noise-isolating characteristics-not noise-canceling, which is an active technology that adds a signal to cancel out something else, and which requires batteries and is very bandwidth-specific. Noise isolation is passive by nature; it's a way of blocking noise from getting into the ear. No artifacts are introduced, and no batteries are needed, but for it to work, an ear seal is required. Some of the leading noise-canceling headphones will boast figures of 20 decibels' worth of narrow-band noise canceling. Even on our least-progressive model, our ear tips will be 35 decibels, and our best model has over 42 decibels, and it's non-specific to the frequencies introduced to it.
As to what's new, Apple is literally driving this whole train. So we've transformed our highest noise-isolation models into 'headset plus' earphones. We've always focused on premium audio-accuracy is key-and we have a format with which to measure those response curves. To pass our standards, we require at least 86% accuracy or above.