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Fall Greeted With Heavy Headphones Intros

9/08/2013 08:00:00 PM Eastern

NEW YORK — As summer drew to a close, headphones manufacturers geared up for the fourth quarter with a steady stream of announcements in the last days of August and the start of September.

On tap in time for the holidays are some of the industry’s first nearfield communications (NFC)-equipped headphones, including models from Sony and Harman International’s AKG.

At a press event last week that spawned new products in nearly every category (see stories throughout this issue), Sony unveiled its updated over-ear headphones line with three different versions of the MDR-10: standard, noise canceling, and Bluetooth wireless with NFC.

The company said it “identified the critical 30Hz to 40Hz sub-bass region that is the signature of today’s music styles and developed an enhanced Beat Response Control design.” Features for the closed-back headphones include enlarged air vents at the back of each 40mm driver, a hanger structure said to moves the housing axis inward for a stable fit, and a detachable cable.

The noise-canceling model (MDR-10RNC) features three modes that are activated by the push of a button, meant to cancel noise based on the level of ambient noise. Battery life is listed at 20 hours. They will be available in October for a $269 suggested retail.

The MDR-10RBT model ($249, November) lets users tap an NFC-enabled smartphone or tablet to stream sound to the headphones; those without NFC can stream via Bluetooth. The headphones support AptX and AAC codecs.

Battery life is listed at 17 hours; they can be used with a supplied cable when it dies.

The standard model, MDR-10R, has a frequency range of 5Hz to 40kHz and comes in black or white. These will be available in October for $199.

At the IFA show in Berlin last week, Harman International unveiled a slate of headphones under several of its brands, including an NFC-enabled pair under its AKG brand.

The $349 metal and leather K845BT features both Bluetooth and NFC. The headphones have a 10-hour battery life, 50mm drivers, closed-back design, and detachable in-line mic and controls.

The wired version is the $299 K545. Both ship in October and come with choice of color accents.

Also introduced were the Harman Kardon Soho headphones, an over-ear leather and metal wired pair with 30mm drivers and included removable Android and Apple cables with in-line mics and controls. They will be available in black, white and camel when they ship in October for $199.

Westone began shipping the latest additions to its UM line of headphones: the UM Pro 10, 20 and 30. The models are designed for stage or studio musicians.

The UM Pro 10, which has a single balanced- armature driver and a $179 suggested retail, are ideal for on-stage monitoring for any level of musician, the company said, while the UM Pro 20 ($299, with dual balanced-armature drivers) are meant for on-stage monitoring for drummers, vocalist and bass players. The top-of-the-line UM Pro 30 ($399) are said to feature three-way crossover to balance across all frequencies.

All three come with the company’s Epic replaceable braided cable, patented Star silicone tips and True-Fit foam tips.

Torque, a headphones company formed by former Monster engineer Yasu Yamamoto, is readying its first line of headphones with its patent-pending TorqueValves — replaceable valves that adjust the acoustics of the headphones to match the music the user is listening to, or the environment they are in. The valves are located beneath the ear tip.

Noted Yamamoto to TWICE: “I want the retailers to not stop at selling the one headphone and give them an opportunity to have an attachment [sale].”

The first model, T103Z, will be priced at $179 and will come with three TorqueValves. Additional valves will be priced at $19.95.

Etymotic Research announced it has expanded its line of Ety-Kids earphones with new colors. The earphones feature a sound-limited design that reportedly enables children to listen to their music players at full volume for up to four hours without risk of damaging their hearing.

The new colors include pink, yellow and black. Suggested retail is $39.99. — Additional reporting by Joseph Palenchar.

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