Headphones Head To International CES

By Lisa Johnston On Jan 10 2012 - 6:01am




LAS VEGAS — It certainly is getting crowded out there, which is a fitting theme for this time of year in Las Vegas.

Dozens of headphones and earphones manufacturers will come to the 2012 International CES to show off their latest introductions and try to stand out in this competitive market.

Active noise cancellation and balanced armature designs are a common theme in new products at the show, as evidenced by the new in-ear headphones from Polk and Sony, among others. TWICE has rounded up the latest additions to the category, most of which are being demonstrated during International CES, held here this week.

Coby is using the show to launch a number of models meant to appeal to different young audiences. The CV400 Streets come in four colors: blue, red, green, black. They have 40mm neodymium drivers, folding designs and adjustable headbands.

The CVE55 Jammerz Streets earphones also come in the same four colors. These have 10mm drivers and an in-ear isolation design meant to block background noise.

The sweat-resistant Jammerz Sports X come in three colors: green, orange, black. They also have 10mm drivers and an in-ear isolation design.

The Jammerz Moods come in six colors — silver, blue, pink, orange, green and purple — and have 10mm drivers. The Jammerz Gamers, meanwhile, come in just black. They have 40mm drivers, a boom mic, an adjustable headband and a USB connector.

Golla, a manufacturer of cases and bags, is moving into the headphones market with a line of Golla Gear ear buds. Few details were available at press time other than that they will come in four colors and will feature an in-line mic.

Harman International is coming to CES with at least three headphones, including two pairs of active noisecanceling on-ear models. The AKG K 490 NC and K 495 NC each operate via USB charge rather than batteries. They will also operate in passive mode.

The 490 ($299) are meant to be lightweight and used for long listening periods, while the 495 ($399) feature brushed-metal parts and leather headband and ear cups.

Harman is also showing its AKG 550 over-ear headphones with 50mm drivers, which the company said are the largest drivers it has used in headphones. The closed-back design is meant to deliver an impactful, open sound with “a remarkable bass response that appears as if it were coming from a concert hall,” the company said.

They’re geared toward audiophiles and feature a matte-black finish and a $299 suggested retail.

House of Marley will be at the show with a selection of new headphones, including new models in its Jammin’ and Freedom collections.

The Riff in-ear headphones will feature a onesize- fits-all foam tip that will be earth-friendly, the company said, made out from either recycled materials or a sustainable source. A variety of colors will be offered.

The Marley Lively Up will be a pair of sport in-ear headphones constructed with a recycled plastic body.

The Little Bird on-ear headphones have a stainless-steel design meant to be thin and lightweight, while the on-ear Rhythm headphones have a retractable design with a ratcheting system and flexible ear cups. Both are said to be covered in Earth-friendly fabrics.

iFrogz will be adding to its EarPollution and iFrogz Audio headphones lines, including the Spectra ear buds and the Coda on-ear headphones. Very few details were available at press time, other than that the Spectra models will have a gold-plated audio jack and lithium-alloy casing, and the Coda headphones will have a removable, tangle-resistant woven cord and a softtouch finish.

iHome is expanding its New Balance line of athletic earphones, as well as introducing a pair of active noise-canceling over-ears and a line of a fashion-themed models. The NB500B behind-the-neck Bluetooth wireless sport earphones feature an embedded microphone, flexible over-the-ear hooks, A2DP and AVRCP profiles, and a rechargeable battery with up to eight hours of talk time and 140 hours of standby time. Users can change tracks, play/pause music, adjust volume and answer/end calls with onboard controls.

The noise-canceling headphones from iHome (model iB50) feature an in-line volume control, adjustable headband, rotating ear cups and a cloth-covered cord. The Fashion line, meanwhile, comes in six different patterns. Pricing and availability weren’t given.

iLuv will be unveiling at least three earphones at the show, including the iEP516 Stentor earphones with in-line SpeakEZ remote with mic and one-touch call answer. They are designed to be used with most smartphones and feature noise-isolating ear tips in three sizes, 8.6mm neodymium drivers, a frequency response of 16Hz to 22khz and an impedance of 16 ohms. Sensitivity is listed at 105dB.

The FitActive iEP415 earphones, which have the SpeakEZ remote and the same tech specs as the Stentor model, are meant for use with Apple devices. They are designed with an in-ear brace design meant to avoid interference with helmets and goggles.

The third model, the iEP320 Sweet Cotton Mini, come with three sizes of noise-isolating silicone ear tips. Pricing and shipping information weren’t available at press time.

Memorex is showing several different earphones, including models with a piggyback feature that lets users share music players.

The IE3000 Easy Listening in-ear headphones feature 9mm drivers, a retractable cord and a sharing plug. Users can have a friend plug into the headphones so they can listen to the same music player at the same time. They come in green, orange, pink and blue for $19.99.

The IE600 earphones have built-in volume and mute controls as well as the extra sharing jack. They come in teal, gray and Dusty Rose. Pricing wasn’t available. The IE700 adds playback controls, including play/pause/track selection, as well as answer/drop and volume/microphone control. They come in black for $49.99.

Monster will be unveiling headphones at the show, including the Inspiration, a noise-canceling over-ear model. The company is also announcing a partnership with Livestrong for their iSport headphones.

Philips is expanding its line of Fidelio headphones with the addition of a model with 40mm neodymium drivers and leather and aluminum ear housings. They have a semi-openback design with acoustically resistant fabric built into the steel grille, said to deliver rich bass. The pre-tilt speaker plate matches the natural angle of the ear to reduce multi-sound reflection, Philips added.

They come with a 3.mm cable, a 6.3mm audio jack, an in-line remote and mic for use with an iPhone, and a carrying pouch. Pricing and availability weren’t given at press time.

Sennheiser will show its IE 60 and IE 80 earphones at the show, both of which are designed with dynamic transducers that reportedly cover the entire frequency range with a single system and keep distortion to a minimum.

The IE 80 model achieves a noise attenuation of up to 26dB, while the IE 60 achieves 20dB. Both models can be used for monitoring, Sennheiser said.

The IE 80 features a miniature rotating control that acts as a sound-tuning function. It’s designed with brushedaluminum textures. Frequency response is listed at 10Hz to 20kHz. The IE 60 has a frequency response of 10Hz to 18kHz. Design features include a matte-black finish with brass accents.

Pricing and availability weren’t given.

Wicked Audio will be highlighting its Solus over-ear headphones, which the company introduced in the last few days of 2011. The headphones have 40mm drivers with a frequency range of 20Hz to 20kHz and impedance of 32 ohms. It comes with a 4-foot braided cord, builtin volume controls, and a DJ switch that lets users witch from stereo sound to a DJ mode. They will be available this month for $100.

Zipbuds is launching its LAB headphones line during the show. The LAB headphones will come in three models: Select, Choice and Prime. The Select includes zipperintegrated cabling, while the midrange Choice and highend Prime have removable zipper cabling and non-zipper microphone and remote.

Zipbuds will also be showing the Juiced line of ear buds. These feature 8mm drivers and plastic housings. Suggested retail is $19.99, and a version with a mic and remote is $24.99.

The Fresh ear bud line ($39.99) also has 8mm drivers, but these ear buds have aluminum housings. A version with an Apple-certified, three-button microphone remote has a $49.99 retail.

These new models will be available in the spring.

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