Headphones Headline International CES

By Lisa Johnston On Jan 30 2012 - 6:01am




LAS VEGAS — It was headphones in the news and on the minds of many at the 2012 International CES, with dozens of manufacturers introducing new models and updating their lines.

TWICE has rounded up just some of the companies that were there. More can be seen online at www.twice.com and in the Jan. 10 print issue.

AfterShokz launched its “ear-free” headphones during the show, which are designed to rest outside of the wearer’s ears to prevent hearing damage.

Three models are available: After- Shokz Sport, AfterShokz Mobile and AfterShokz Game.

“Unlike conventional headphones and ear buds that use the eardrums to transmit sound, Aftershokz headphones rest comfortably in front of the ear and utilize bone conduction technology to transmit sound through the listener’s cheekbones to the inner ear, bypassing the eardrum completely,” the company said.

The AfterShokz Sport headphones are designed for active users. Since AfterShokz headphones rest outside the ear, users are able to also hear ambient noises, such as oncoming traffic.

The AfterShokz Mobile headphones add an inline microphone, so incoming calls automatically interrupt music and simultaneously activate the microphone.

The AfterShokz Game headphones are engineered for gamers or those who use VoIP. All three models are sweat and water resistant, and have in-line controls and a lifetime warranty. Both the Sport and Mobile headphones have a standard 3.5mm connector, and the AfterShokz Game has a USB connector and an extended 9-foot cord.

They are currently available for the following prices: AfterShokz Sport, $59.95; AfterShokz Game, $69.95; and AfterShokz Mobile, $69.95.

Bell’O announced just prior to CES that it was entering the headphones market with a line of in-ear models under its new Bell’O Digital brand.

Six models will be available: BDH220, BDH440, BDH640, BDH643, BDH650 and BDH653. The ear buds will feature tangle-free cords, three sizes of ear cushions, and in-line volume control and microphone. They’ll be available this spring at prices ranging from $9.99 to $39.99.

Fanny Wang used CES to show off its updated colors for its headphones. The Duo Color 1000 series of on-ear headphones come in five colors, while the 2000 over-ear model comes in three new colors, and the 3000 noise-canceling over-ear headphones come in four colors.

Griffin Technology showed a line of kid-safe headphones that are the result of their partnership with Crayola. Ear buds and headphones are available in the MyPhones line, both with volumelimited circuitry. The ear buds are offered in four colors; they come with three sizes of ear tips and a carrying case shaped like a crayon. Suggested retail is $14.99.

The over-ear headphones can be customized with the included stickers and markers. Suggested retail is $24.99 for the pink/purple or blue/ green models. All will be available in the spring.

Koss took the wraps off several new headphones, including a pair of interlocking in-ear models. They feature 9mm drivers and a patented design that’s meant for easy storage.

The frame of the headphones is constructed from highly polished aluminum and surrounded by flexible, soft touch material, Koss said, meant to double as a soundproofing coat. Two configurations will be offered: the IL100 and the IL200 KTC, the latter of which includes the Koss Touch Control remote and mic for use with Apple devices. Suggested retails are $49.99 and $79.99, respectively.

Koss also launched its new Rukus series with four models. The RUK50 ($59.99) is a full-size headphone that’s offered in several colors and designs. The RUK40 ($39.99) features memory- foam cushions, while the RUK30 ($29.99) is an in-ear model with a flat, tangle-free cord. The RUK20 ($19.99) is an in-ear model.

All of these will ship in the spring.

Sennheiser unveiled a new highend model of headphones, the HD 700, which retail for $999. This model features ear cups that are designed so that sound waves are directed to the ears at a slight angle, resulting in a natural listening experience, the company said. The ear cups also have an open design that prevents vibrations from distorting the listening experience, Jeff Touzeau told TWICE during the show. Thanks to this design and a ventilated magnet system, Sennheiser said the total harmonic distortion is less than 0.03 percent (at 1 kHz and 105 dB sound pressure level).

The HD 700 has 40mm neodymium drivers, a frequency range of 10Hz to 42kHz, and an impedance of 150 ohms. It will be available in March.

SMS Audio, the audio brand of rapper 50 Cent, launched the latest models in its Street by 50 headphones line. The DJ Wired version features 40mm drivers, rotating ear cups, memory-foam cushions and a customizable magnetic bezel. Two colors are offered: Ghost White and Shadow Black. Pricing and availability weren’t set.

The company also unveiled the Street Buds in-ear headphones.

SOL Republic, which launched into the market last year, told TWICE it has entered the licensing arena for its modular headphones, including models for select college athletics.

Soul Electronics, which manufactures the Soul by Ludacris line, has updated its line with new designs and color combinations. The SL300CG chrome gold noise-canceling headphone and SL150CS onear chrome silver are limited-edition models, and there is also the on-ear SL100GW model with a white finish and gold accents.

The SL49 in-ear model will now be offered in new color combinations, including the green and black SL49NB, red and black SL49RB, and pink and white SL49PW.

The SL99 in-ear model has a white and platinum version now as well (model SL99W).

V-Moda was showing off its latest Crossfade headphones at a suite in the Venetian during CES. The Crossfade M-100 will be available in March and features 50mm dual-diaphragm, dualcoil drivers, a combination design that company founder/CEO Val Kolton told TWICE he has patented.

They have a steel construction with folding hinge arms and a Steelflex headband, and come with three Kevlar-reinforced cables. One of these cables is a remote and mic that’s compatible with Apple devices.

V-Moda also said they are now able to engrave interchangeable shields for use with its Crossfade LP, LP2 and M-80 models. Custom designs and licensed logos can be etched onto the metal shields, and same-day shipping will be available in a few weeks to the U.S., Asia and Europe, Kolton said.

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