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Monster's Lee Talks Fashion, New Sound

7/07/2013 08:00:00 PM Eastern

NEW YORK — Monster is drilling a deeper focus on fashion and what it can do for the headphones industry, its founder Noel Lee told TWICE during CE Week last month.

The company also used the event to promote its new proprietary sound technology known as Pure Monster Sound, and announced the expansion of several headphones lines.

Although few technical details were provided regarding Pure Monster Sound — Monster is notoriously tight-lipped when it comes to the specifics of its audio technologies — a spokeswoman for the company said it encompasses the entire device, from the drivers to the cord. All Monster headphones going forward will feature the design and will be “specially designed with better quality components,” another spokesman told TWICE. The company declined to comment further.

During an interview just prior to the company’s press conferences at CE Week, TWICE asked Lee of his view of the current state of the headphones market. Lee described the category as being “very crowded, very confused.”

“There is a lot of low tech out there,” Lee said. “Instead of getting better, it’s getting worse.”

Beyond its Pure Monster Sound campaign, Monster plans to draw focus to the company’s headphones by punching up their relationship with the fashion industry, its DNA headphones line in particular.

“CE is drab and is not where it could be,” Lee said. “Headphones are a fashion but our industry doesn’t embrace it.” Noting Monster’s recent partnership with model Tyson Beckford, announced during International CES in January, Lee said, “CE is not really exciting. Tyson is exciting. We want our industry to embrace it.”

Lee also said the company is currently planning to do something for Fashion Week in September but details were not finalized.

Building on Monster’s massive triumph (and notorious relationship) with Beats by Dr. Dre and its hip-hop-loving consumers, the company now appears to be trying to replicate that success with the Latino community. It announced a partnership with music producer Emilio Estefan in the spring and soft-launched two Sound Machine headphones — which are being positioned as the first headphones designed specifically for Latin music.

Estefan noted to TWICE that Latin music — which, he said, also includes Brazilian and Mexican music in his mind — has more percussion than other music. The Sound Machine headphones offer a new sound for that kind of music, he told TWICE, and the Latino consumer will respond well to having Estefan as a spokesman because “they will want somebody with a history.”

At the same time, Lee was quick to point out that these are not being positioned as a “retro headphone.”

The Sound Machine models — which retail for $249 and $149 for over-ear and on-ear versions, respectively — are currently only available in Target, but Monster is actively trying to expand distribution beyond the chain.

Acknowledging that the media is always asking Monster “What’s next?” when it comes to headphones, during its press conference at CE Week, the company also took the wraps off the newest model in its athletic-themed iSport line: the Bluetooth Freedom model, said to be the first wireless model with its new Pure Monster Sound. The onear Freedom headphones feature a foldable design, reflective material on the headband, water-resistant construction, silicone ear cups with antimicrobial protection and a $249 price tag. They will be available July 14.

The company is also adding new colors to its DNA line (neon yellow/orange and neon green/silver, available July 1) and a new Candy Colour line as part of its Nick Canon-partnered NCredible N-Tune headphones. Five colors will make up the Candy Colour line, all of which will launch next month for a $159 suggested retail. The new neon DNA colors will be promoted with a commercial featuring Alicia Keys. Keys is married to Swizz Beatz, who is a member of Monster’s board and holds a coownership stake in the company.

Lee also said Rose Gold and Carbon Fiber DNA colors will be available in September.

Monster also used CE Week to announce its newest A/V cables, including its first cable for 4K TVs. See the full story on TWICE.com.