By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
By Lisa Johnston
— The CE industry will see no shortage of earphone, headphone and ear bud introductions this year. Below is a roundup of recently introduced products as well as products that will make their debut this month.
AcoustiBuds is introducing earphone adapters at Intentional CES, being held in Las Vegas, Jan. 8-11. The adapters are designed to dramatically improve the acoustic quality, fit and functionality of standard earphones sold with iPods, iPhones and most MP3 players.
The internal design features acoustic horn methodology, according to the company, which it calls "a revolutionary approach to earphone sound delivery, and a point of difference from the industry status quo."
Sound waves captured from the speaker driver are transferred through a converging cone into a transition area that fits snugly inside the ear, and the sound waves then move into a second diverging cone and gradually into the ear canal, according to Acoustibuds.
This internal structure is said to be augmented by external fins that provide a multi-barrier sound isolation seal and unparalleled retention. Thin and flexible silicone rubber fins and angled design assure optimum position and contact within the ear, conforming to contours and allowing for a customized fit. The result is increased comfort and maximum retention, even with intense physical activity and excessive perspiration, said the company.
The AcoustiBuds retail package includes two sizes of noise-isolating earphone adapters and storage pouches, available in white or black, and can be purchased on Amazon.com for $12.99.
Audio-Technica is introducing several headphones of various configuration at CES. The ATH-CK9 ($299 suggested retail) is designed to provide "outstanding" sound isolation from background noise. It incorporates a balanced-armature driver, a design that reportedly provides exceptional fidelity and resolution. It is offered in black or white and comes with a hard carrying case. Its reversible design is meant to enable it to be worn with the cord extending either down or up over the ear.
The ATH-CK10 ($499) is equipped with separate low- and high-frequency drivers with a unique dual-balanced-armature design to deliver extraordinary clarity and detail along with deep, powerful bass, the company said. It comes with three interchangeable ear tips and a hard carrying case.
In over-the-ear headphones, Audio-Technica is debuting the ATH-ESW9A ($549), which features wooden ear housings made of African paddock wood. The wood is said to contribute to the headphones' acoustic reproduction. The ATH-ESW9A uses an advanced-technology neodymium driver and features padded ear pads.
Audiovox is announcing a variety of ear buds this month as part of its Mobility Expanded (ME) line.
The Earbudeez, which feature an 0.5-inch (13.5mm) driver and a soft gel cover for comfort, are designed to appeal to consumers in the tween to teenage bracket. They are available in five colors: black, white, pink, blue and lime green. Suggested retail is $9.99. They have a reported frequency range of 20Hz-20kHz, a sensitivity of 104dB and an impedance of 16 ohms.
Headrush ear buds, also from Audiovox, are aimed at tween to twenty-something young males, the company said, and come in five colors: black, white, blue, pink and green. Small, medium and large ear cushions are included. Suggested retail is $17.99. Their specs are as follows: driver size, 0.35 inches (9 mm); frequency response, 20Hz-20kHz; sensitivity, 98dB; and impedance, 16 ohms.
Finally, Audiovox's Rock Me ear buds are engineered with an ultra-lightweight design and bright packaging with metallic undertones. They are meant to appeal to consumers ages 20 to 45. A carrying case is included for a $24.99 suggested retail.
All models are scheduled for April availability.
Coby will be introducing a number of headphones and ear buds at CES, including the CV-185 folding deep bass stereo headphones. The CV-185 feature 40mm neodymium driver units, a compact folding design and an adjustable headband. Suggested retail is $7.99.
The CV-210 ($9.99) are listed as two-in-one combination deep bass stereo headphones and earphones. They also have 40mm neodymium driver units and a padded headband, and they come with bonus digital stereo earphones with an included carrying case.
The CV-720 ($19.99) stereo headphones boast an "open-air type design" and have 40mm drivers and two interchangeable color caps. They also have a single-sided cord, which the company said is designed to minimize tangles.
Coby's CV-320 have 40mm drivers, independent left/right level controls for monitoring and mix adjustment, and a single-sided cord. Pricing wasn't given at press time.
The CV-790 DJ-style reference headphones feature 50mm neodymium drivers, large cushioned ear pads, swivel and fold-in ear cups, and a single-sided cord. Pricing wasn't given.
The CV-198 ($79.99) stereo headphones with swivel ear cups have an active noise-cancellation system, 40mm neodymium drivers, adjustable headband and full-size ear cups with padding. It also has a single-sided detachable cord.
Also being introduced at CES are the following stereo earphones:
CV-E52 ($4.99) Jammerz;
CV-E196 ($19.99); and
DGL Group recently introduced its Candy earphones, which come in various candy brands: York, Jolly Rancher, Razzles, Tootsie Roll and Pop, Reese's Pieces and Peanut Butter Cups, Dots, Sugar Daddy, Sour Apple, Bubble Yum and Dubble Bubble.
The stereo, binaural earphones list a sensitivity of 95 dB, an impedance of 160 ohms, and a frequency range of 20Hz to 20,000Hz. They include sound-isolating technology and come with a clear plastic case. Scheduled to be available this month, the Candy headphones will carry a $9.99 suggested retail.
Elexa Consumer Products is launching a line of ear buds this month that feature patented lighting technology known as Iblink.
Iblink, according to the company, allows high-quality audio listening while being able to "See The Sound" via the pulsing ultra-bright LEDs located in each ear bud and in the battery pack casing. Iblink will be available in three color choices — blue, pink and white — and reportedly deliver high-quality audio and mega bass.
A rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack and a USB charger are included.
Pricing and availability were not given at press time.
Emerge Technologies is introducing its ReTrak Platinum series of ear buds. The ear buds feature what the company hails as "top-of-the-line retractable noise reduction." They're designed for maximum comfort and hi-fi sound quality. From rich deep bass tones to crystal-clear mid and upper tones, these buds deliver maximum range of sound, the company said. The cord's ends can be pulled for up to 4 feet of length and then pulled again to retract.
iFrogz, a manufacturer of iPod accessories, recently announced its entry into the earphone and headphone market with its line of EarPollution earphones. The company will be showing its latest addition to this line with the company's first over-the-ear, DJ-style headphones.
These headphones will come in five designs: the Silver Spider, Munich, Billionaire, Union and Hustle. More details were unavailable at press time.
The other models in the EarPollution line, which were announced in November, will also be on display at CES, including the Hype ear buds ($19.99) and the Fallout and Nerve Pipes on-ear headphones ($34.99). Each set comes with the option of selecting from a variety of bases, accent pieces and artwork pieces for the ear buds, and a selection of headband, side pieces, speaker pieces, ear caps and ear cushions for the on-ear models.
According to iFrogz, this availability of choices means users can customize up to 200,000 configurations.
The i303 in-ear sports ear clips from iLuv are designed to be ultra-compact and lightweight. They are said to feature high-performance speakers for extended frequency range, lower distortion, and high power handling, and include in-line volume control. Three sizes of washable ear tips are included.
Specs are as follows: driver size, 23mm; impedance, 24 ohms, frequency response, 20Hz to 20kHz; and sensitivity, 108dB ± 4dB at 1kHz/1mW.
Pricing and availability were not given at press time.
Maxell, which will be displaying its new line of M&M-branded earphones at CES (see the Nov. 17 issue of TWICE for more details on that line), is also redesigning its Stereo line of products.
Gordon Tetreault, sales and marketing director for Maxell, told TWICE in a telephone interview in November that the company was being "very green-conscious as far as the packaging. We're downsizing the packaging and updating the styles of the products, and looking at the materials are being used for the packaging," he said.
The updated packaging wouldn't result in any price changes for consumers, Tetreault said. "What we're trying to do is incur some cost savings but still maintain our cost structures to our customers," he explained. The packaging changes were expected to take place in the first quarter.
Maximo Products is using CES to launch its 5-series iMetal isolation earphones and headsets
The 5 series consists of three models: iM-590 iMetal isolation earphones, $59.99 suggested retail; iP-595 iMetal isolation earphones with remote and microphone, $69.99; and iP-HS5 iMetal isolation headset for iPhone 3Gs, BlackBerrys and other smartphones, $79.99.
The iP-HS5 is reportedly equipped with a high-definition microphone and soft-touch control.
The 5-series models are said to feature a hybrid of aluminum alloy and translucent silicone in a sleek, compact design. The result is a lightweight earphone that is more comfortable to wear and easier to handle. A proprietary new ear tip design offers better fit, comfort, and sound isolation, the company said. It also features knit cables and polished alloy components.
All of the models come with a limited lifetime warranty and are currently available.
Paramount Wireless is introducing its Pro series earphones from its new iHarmonix brand.
The line includes three models: the Pro I series for the iPhone 3G (also compatible BlackBerry devices that offer a 3.5mm jack), the Pro M series for mobile-music phones with a 2.5mm jack, and the Pro EV series for iPods and MP3 players.
The I- and M-series models feature an in-line noise-canceling microphone, while the EV series has in-line volume control.
The Pro Series of earphones start at $34.95 and use ergonomic noise isolation and dynamic speakers. They also come with a set of memory-foam ear tips that are designed to help to drastically drown out any ambient noise. All Pro Series earphones include gold-plated DC jacks for better sound performance.
Paramount Wireless is also introducing its line of XP E-series stereo earphones, which are compatible with iPods and other MP3 players. Combining sound clarity and a stylish black chrome finish, the XP E series offers consumers clear and balanced treble and bass, said the company. The XP E series is priced at a suggested $29.95 and will be available following CES.
Finally, the XS E series from Paramount Wireless feature high-performance earphones that come in a sleek metallic finish and offer perfect dynamic sound by utilizing 11mm drivers with neodymium magnets. The suggested retail for the XS E series is $24.95. They are scheduled to be available after CES.
Shure will be launching a pair of earphones at CES, along with two side-address condenser microphones and an XLR-to-USB signal adapter. Shure can be found at booth 21532 in the South Hall.
The SE115, the most recent addition to the company's Sound Isolating line, is offered in four colors — blue, pink, black and red — for a suggested $99. Features include the company's second-generation Dynamic MicroSpeaker, sound-isolating technology, and the Shure fit kit that provides interchangeable earphone fit and cable options.
Slot-Audio recently announced what it's calling the world's only patented, cordless, removable memory card headphone. The SlotMusic-compatible collapsible headphone comes with a 4GB MicroSD memory card, rechargeable lithium battery, Firewire IEEE port, computer docking station/battery charger and a leather carrying case. It will record and play MP3, WMA and AAC digital audio formats up to 48-kHz sample rate and 320Kbps.
Features include on/off, play/pause, forward/back/shuffle and volume controls.
Sony is using CES to announce several headphones as part of its new Extra Bass series.
The MDR-XB300 feature 30mm XB diaphragm driver units, a frequency response of 5Hz to 22,000Hz, a sensibility of 100dB/mW and 1,500mW power-handling capacity. The over-the-head, on-the-ear design comes with "king-size" ear cushions for a $49.99 suggested retail.
The MDR-XB500 have 40mm XB diaphragm driver units, a frequency response of 4Hz to 25,000Hz, 104dB/mW sensibility and a power-handling capacity of 1,500mW. These have an over-the-head, around-the-ear design, also with king-size ear cushions. A carrying pouch is included for a $79.99 suggested retail.
The MDR-XB700 have 50mm XB diaphragm driver units, a frequency response of 3Hz to 30,000 Hz, a sensibility of 106dB/mW and a power-handling capacity of 3000mW. The design is described by the company as over-the-head, around-the-ear wearing style. As with the MDR-XB300 and MDR-XB500, these come with king-size ear cushions.
Suggested retail is $129.
The MDR-XB20EX silicone ear buds feature 9mm driver units, a frequency response of 5Hz to 24,000 Hz, a sensibility of 103dB/mW and a 100mW power-handling capacity. The ear buds are offered in small, medium and large for a $39.99 suggested retail. A carrying case is included.
Finally, the MDR-XB40EX silicone ear buds feature 13.5mm driver units, a frequency response of 4Hz to 24,000 Hz, a 105dB/mW sensibility and a power-handling capacity of 100mW. The vertical, in-ear ear buds come in small, medium and large for a $59.99 suggested retail. A carrying case is included.
All of these headphones are scheduled for February availability.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.