By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
LAKE MARY, FLA. — Not content with offering only rapper-themed headphones, Soul Electronics is expanding its headphones to include two new lines geared toward several different audiences: athletes, professionals and women.
TWICE caught up with Soul Electronics CEO Lan Kennedy earlier this month, who provided an update on the Combat and Performance lines that were first previewed at International CES in January and will begin shipping in September. The decision to enter these new categories stemmed from consumer feedback as well as market research that showed consumers now tend to own more than one pair of headphones.
The company has partnered with quarterback Tim Tebow and Olympian Usain Bolt for the Combat line, which Kennedy billed as the first over-ear and on-ear athletic headphones.
“We want to give retailers what they’re looking for and give consumers what they’re looking for,” said Kennedy, “and there is a complete lack of anything that’s athletic or truly active out there.”
In developing them, Soul sat down with the athletes to get a list of their must-haves, and among them were a lightweight construction, sweat-resistance, breathability, antibacterial protection, a compression fit so they don’t fall off, and, of course, great sound.
The flagship model in the line, the Combat+ over-ear headphones, are made of a lightweight hardshell material and feature ear pieces made of Comply memory foam, which Kennedy said Soul is the first to do. The ear pieces are designed to pop off so they can be wiped down and cleaned without damaging the driver. Versions in green, blue and black will be offered for $199 suggested retails.
The Transform has the same speaker technology as the Combat+, Kennedy said, but this on-ear model comes in at a lower $99 price point. Features include washable mesh ear pieces and a tanglefree cable with an in-line remote. Blue and green versions will be offered.
The third model in the line, the Flex in-ear headphones, feature proprietary form-fitting, antibacterial ear hooks and have an IPX5 waterproof rating. Suggested retail is $69. They will come in blue or green.
The second line, known as the Performance series, also consists of three models. The first is the Jet, an over-ear headphone that is said to be the first to offer four microphones for active noise canceling. It will be available in January in black.
The Loop on-ear headphones ($129) were initially designed for women, Kennedy said, but “men with smaller heads and teenage boys are also saying they would wear it.” They will be offered in four colors: black, white, blue and pink.
The Mini in-ear headphones ($59), meanwhile, were designed with the smallest sound driver Soul could manufacture, she said. They will be offered in black with four different sizes of ear tips included.
Both the Loop and the Mini will be available in September.
Soul plans a full marketing and advertising campaign to accompany the Combat and Performance lines when they become available. Tebow and Bolt both shot commercials that Kennedy said will be aggressively run. The company also plans to display the videos in in-store displays.
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