By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Headphone sales saw positive growth in the 2008, at least for the months of January through September, according numbers provided by The NPD Group.
Headphone sales unit volume was 16.8 million for January through September of this year, up 11 percent from the prior-year period. Ear buds fared even better, with 32 percent growth.
Ross Rubin, NPD's industry analysis director, said the growth in ear bud headphone sales could be attributed to, not surprisingly, the rise in iPhone sales.
"We saw the rise in these products as the iPod ramped up. They are among the most compact form factor for headphones and thus accompany the shrinking sizes of these devices. In addition, the iPhone 3G was the best-selling handset in the third quarter. Among the changes in that model was support for standard headphones, a requirement that consumers are becoming more vocal about supporting," said Rubin.
TWICE has rounded up new headphones, earphones and ear buds from the industry. Listed below are the additions in the headset category; earphones and ear buds can be found in the story below.
Headphones: ARW200, $99.99
Wireless headphone system: AWD209, $149
The ARW200 Dolby Digital 5.1-compatible surround-sound headphones from Acoustic Research can be plugged into a USB port. They feature three high-performance neodymium speakers in each cushioned ear cup, as well as a lightweight, foldable design and a 42-inch cable.
Engineered to send uncompressed audio signals from a small 2.4GHz transmitter — which can plug into a CD player or other audio source — to headphones, the AWD209 wireless headphone system can operate a reported rate of 100 feet. The headphones come with an adjustable headband and cushioned ear cups, along with a 3.5mm mini-plug adapter. The system is powered by a supplied AC adapter, while the headphones run on a rechargeable lithium-polymer battery. Battery life is approximately eight hours, said the company. The unit is reportedly set up by pressing a button on the transmitter and a button on the headset, thereby syncing the two units.
On-ear headphones: ATH-ES3W, $79.99; ATH-ON3W, $59.99
The ATH-ES3W on-ear headphones are available in blue, green, pink and silver metallic finishes. Features include cushioned ear pads, a soft headband in an aluminum housing and 28mm rare-earth-magnet speaker drivers.
The ATH-ON3W boast an ultra-light on-ear design that can fold flat. It, too, features premium drivers with articulate bass, a detailed midrange, and open, extended high frequencies, said the company. Colors include dark gray, pink, teal blue and white.
Ear clip and headphones: $12.99
Scheduled for Q1 2009 availability
Gordon Tetreault, sales and marketing director of Maxell, told TWICE last week that the company would be introducing a line called Kid Safe headphones, in an ear clip and headphone style. The decibel levels will be capped at 90db, and the products will be offered in pink, blue and silver.
Headset: Traveler, $149
Combining a noise-canceling headset with a 1GB MP3 player, the Traveler from Otto features active noise-reduction technology, padded leather ear cups that fold flat, a hard-shell carrying case. The MP3 player comes with book-marking technology that enables users to you resume listening where you left off when listening to audio books.
Headphones: MS 400, $249
The MS 400 headphones from Phiaton features studio-grade 40mm electrodynamic drivers, a sensitivity of 98dB, an impedance of 32 ohms and a maximum input power of 1000 mW, according to the company. It boasts a bright red adjustable headband and noise-reducing ear pads; the headphones are made with carbon graphite fiber.
Headset: GameCom 777, $99
Designed for gamers, the GameCom 777 headset from Plantronics features 5.1 Dolby headphone technology that's received by plugging in a Dolby USB sound card. It also comes with an analog connection for a two-channel mode. Its lightweight frame is engineered for long gaming sessions, the company said. Other features include specially designed ear pods, a noise-cancelling microphone boom that can be hidden while not in use and in-line audio controls.
Headset: Siberia, $79.99
SteelSeries announced it will now offer its Siberia headset in red, which the company said is the most-requested color by its consumers. The Siberia features a frequency response of 18Hz to 28,000Hz, with an impedance of 40 ohms. Its microphone has a frequency response of 80Hz to 15,000 Hz, with an impedance of 2,000 ohms.
Headphones: HFI-15G, $109
The HFI-15G open-back headphones are billed by the company as the smallest headphones in its HFI line. Featuring Ultrasone's S-Logic Natural surround-sound technology, they are designed to enable a natural surround-sound sensation without the use of digital processing. The S-Logic technology, which has a decentralized driver position, also reduces sound pressure on the ear drum. Frequency range is listed as 20Hz to 20,000Hz, with an impedance of 32 ohms. Sound pressure level is 96 dB. The driver is 40mm Mylar.
Headphones: iMuffs, $129
Wi-Gear, a company that describes itself as being "committed to building a world without wires," introduced the iMuffs in line with this thinking. Designed for iPod and Bluetooth-capable cellphones, the iMuffs feature large controls that are meant to be intuitive and ergonomically placed, allowing users pause, change volume, skip tracks and seek music from the headset.
Features include Advanced Audio Distribution Profile and Bluetooth 2.0 technology, Clear Voice Capture echo- and noise-cancellation software, and a travel charger. When paired with a Bluetooth phone, iMuffs automatically pause the music and ring in the headphones, allowing the user to talk through the integrated microphone, said the company.
It is available in black or white and comes with a Bluetooth adapter.
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.