By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Sony unveiled a full slate of 20 new headphones including a redesigned flagship reference ear bud model, a lighter-weight active noise-canceling SKU, its first children's model and an Active Style line of non-slip silicone rubber headphones for sports enthusiasts.
Sony updated its flagship EX series of ear bud headphones with a new reference standard, the MDR-EX700LP. They feature lightweight magnesium housings, a multilayer diaphragm for better audio reproduction and seven sizes of hybrid-silicone ear buds to give users a more comfortable and secure fit, the company said. They ship in March for about $300.
The company also extended its line of noise-canceling headphones to five with a lighter model that shifts excess weight from the headband and earpieces by putting the battery pack onto the cord of the headphone. The MDR-NC40 headphones have an open-air design that is said to distribute pressure evenly across the outer ear, and pressure-reducing urethane cushioning that is said to prevent user fatigue during long stretches of wear. Available in March for about $100, the headphones fold into a case the size of a softball to fit easily in a carry-on bag or briefcase.
The company also updated the lower end of the EX line with new form factors and color options. The MDR-EX75 ear bud headphones, ($50 in black, white and silver) sport a new cylindrical shape for a more comfortable fit, the company said.
MDR-EX55 ear buds (in two-toned pink, royal blue, white and black, $40) use silicone for the entire spherical housing to increase comfort. MDR-EX32LP ear buds ($25) now come in pink or blue with white accents, solid black or solid white.
Sony's first children's headphones, model MDR-222KD, are designed for the smaller, more sensitive ears of kids ages 8 and older. The smaller headphones reduce the maximum volume delivered through the open-air earpieces compared with similar adult headphones. The single-side cord design reduces cord tangle, Sony said. They ship in April for about $15 in black or cotton-candy pink.
The new Active Style collection features slim-design headphones in five different form factors made of moisture-resistant black silicone rubber with orange-red accents.
The model MDR-AS20J headphones fit around the outer ear with an ear bud that sits inside the ear canal. The MDR-AS40EX features a convertible ear hanger that transforms the headphones from over-the-ear to a traditional ear bud style.
The collection also will include more traditional headband-style headphones (model MDR-AS100W), behind-the-neck ear bud headphones (model MDR-AS50G) and behind-the neck open air headphones (model MDR-AS30G). The headphones will range in price from $20 to $100.
"I believe this is the most robust collection we've introduced to consumers, and we're offering wonderful color and style options for anyone between 8 and 98," said Andy Bubala, director of audio accessory products for Sony Electronics.
Also new, MDR-G75LW behind-the-neck headphones ($50) have a retractable cord and a collapsible neck band for stowage. Available in black, they use urethane cushioning in the earpieces for added comfort.
Sony's MDR-G45LP headphones ($15), have a flexible behind-the-neck band and a four-foot, single-side cord with black ear caps. A step-up, the MDR-G55LP ($25), features interchangeable colored caps in pairs: black with red or white with gold.
Sony's MDR-E11LP ear buds are available in blue, orange, white and black for about $13. A step-up model, the MDR-ED12LP ($15), adds a bass booster to the same 16mm driver. They come in metallic finishes of red, blue, gold and silver.
MDR-E10LP ear buds ($10) will be available in March in pink, red, pastel green, pastel blue, violet, gray, white and black.
And finally, the company's MDR-E828LP/SLV headphones use Sony's acoustic twin turbo circuit for enhanced bass response and a silent cap to prevent sound leakage. They are available in black and silver for about $10.
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