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Headphones Category Buzzes In The Spring

5/21/2012 12:01:00 AM Eastern

NEW YORK — The headphones category was alive and
buzzing in May, with near-daily product introductions
and announcements. TWICE has rounded up some of
the most recent news, which includes noise-canceling
models and new athlete partnerships.

Soul Electronics announced a branding partnership
with track and field Olympian Usain Bolt.

Soul will manufacture a line of Bolt headphones that
will become available this summer. Details were scarce,
but they will reportedly include a Bluetooth ear bud
model with removable safety hooks, and a version of
Soul’s SL300 headphones that
“pays a stylish homage to the
athlete’s home, Jamaica,” the
company said in a statement.

Bolt will also represent the
Soul brand at various events
this year, including in the company’s
“Soul of Greatness” video
series.

Also forming bonds with an
Olympian is Monster, who
added sprinter Carol Rodriguez
to its Get Fit Now campaign
and as an iSport headphones
spokesperson. Get Fit Now
is billed as an initiative to help
inspire physical activity while
espousing the benefits of Monster’s
iSport headphones, according
to the company.

V-Moda, meanwhile, stepped
outside the headphones box
with the introduction of high-quality earplugs, designed
for those who are subject to unsafe noise levels, such
as DJs.

The Faders VIP earplugs are part of company founder
and CEO Val Kolton’s commitment to protecting its consumers’
hearing. Kolton spoke with TWICE about this
mission during International CES in January, saying that
V-Moda’s competitors like to artificially spike their highs
on the frequency response curve,
which can contribute to hearing
loss. To prevent this, V-Moda
keeps the response curve in
their headphones completely flat,
which Kolton said is “something
the whole audio industry should
follow.”

The Faders VIP, which are part
of the Ear Armor hearing-protection
line, evenly reduce harmful
noise levels by 12dB across the
frequency spectrum, V-Moda
said. They come with four sizes
of “medical-grade fittings” as
well as a detachable cord and
a carrying case. They come in
three colors for $20.

Also in the hearing-protection
camp are SafeSoundProducts,
which is using the Kickstarter
project-funding website to launch
its Airbudz ear bud attachments. Designed to let ambient
noise penetrate, Airbudz are geared toward runners,
children or anyone who doesn’t want to be completely
enveloped in his music, such as someone walking to a
car late at night.

The Airbudz have air channels built into the ear buds
that are designed to let users hear distortion-free music
and ambient noise. The company said they can be used
with about 70 percent of ear buds on the market.

Each package comes with nine Airbudz in three sizes.
The following color combos are offered: Monochrome,
Jewel Tones, Patriotic, Primary Colors, Rastafari, Glow
in the Dark and Neon.

Currently, consumers can pledge on Kickstarter to
help propel the Airbudz to launch. Pledges as low a $1
are accepted, but those who pledge $10 receive one
of the first sets of Airbudz and a carrying case exclusive.
A pledge of $20 adds on a pair of headphones, although
SafeSounds declined to
provide any details on them, and
it was unclear who would be
manufacturing them. According
to the Kickstarter site, the project
would get on the ground if
the $22,000 goal was reached;
at press time, it had achieved
$2,678.

Harman International Industries
added another musician
to its line of Artist-series
headphones: country star Tim
McGraw.

The headphones will come in
on-ear and in-ear models. The
on-ear version, model TMG81,
feature 40mm drivers, ear cups
with semi-open backs, and a frequency
range of 18Hz to 24kHz.
They can fold flat for travel and
will retail for a suggested $129.
Black and white versions are available.

The TMG21 in-ear headphones ($49.95) have 9mm
drivers, a frequency range of 13Hz to 23kHz, and a
closed-back design that is meant to minimize leaking,
according to the company. A carrying pouch and three
sets of silicone tips are included. They also come in
black or white.

McGraw will also join Harman’s Hear the Truth campaign,
which includes Paul Mc-
Cartney and Maroon 5. JBL is
an official sponsor of McGraw’s
upcoming tour.

Phiaton took the wraps off a
pair of Bluetooth 3.0 earphones
that can be used as wired or
wireless.

Model PS 210 BTNC features
the company’s second-generation
Everplay-X technology, which
lets users plug the headphones
into a 3.5mm output and continue
listening if the battery runs out.
They have 14.3mm drivers.

Call time is listed at 12 hours,
music time at 14 hours and
standby time at 250 hours.

The earphones also feature
the company’s Echo-Off active
noise-cancellation technology.
An in-line mic and controls “dongle”
can clip to a user’s clothes.

As with some of Phiaton’s other earphones, the PS
210 BTNC feature the company’s signature “half in-ear”
design, which is meant to enhance sound quality.

A neck strap is included with the earphones. They will
be available in June for a $159 suggested retail.

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