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Headphone Manufacturers Greet Spring With New Models At All Price Levels

NEW YORK — A crowded market that shows no signs of relenting, the headphones category welcomed numerous additions in the first weeks of spring.

Panasonic announced pricing and availability for several headphones it previewed at International CES in January.

The RP-HC800 active noise-canceling headphones feature 40mm drivers, a plastic and metal construction, padded headband and ear cups, detachable cord and iOS-controllable in-line mic and remote. One AAA battery is said to provide up to 40 hours of noise cancellation use; the headphones will still be operable if the battery dies, Panasonic said.

Suggested retail is $229.

The RP-BTD10 Bluetooth headphones also feature 40mm drivers. These have NFC, AptX, on-ear controls and a $199 price tag. The rechargeable lithium-ion battery reportedly operates for about 30 hours. They will be available in May.

The RP-HS34 Sport Clip ear buds have 14.3mm drivers, adjustable hangers, and water and sweat resistance. They come in six colors for a $19.99 suggested retail.

The last model, the RP-BTGS10 open-ear wireless bone-conduction headphones, also employs Bluetooth. Features include 16mm drivers, a $199 price tag, and a drip-proof design for consumers concerned about sweating during use. The headphones sit directly in front of a user’s ear canal and are meant to provide sound without completing isolating the outside world.

Klipsch launched its Reference R6 and Reference R6i in-ear monitors. Features include 6.5mm drivers, aluminum and elastomer designs, flat cables, the company’s signature oval ear tips, and a choice of black or white colors. The Reference R6 has a $79.99 suggested retail while the R61, which adds an Apple-compatible in-line mic and remote, is $99.99.

The company said the new headphones are part of a strategy that aims to have an expanded selection of headphones, soundbars and speakers for the Reference brand by spring 2015.

NuForce unveiled its high-end Primo 8 in-ear headphones. The headphones, which carry a $499 suggested retail and are currently shipping, feature four proprietary balanced-armature drivers in a three-way design: Two of the speakers operate as one for bass frequencies, with one speaker for midrange and one for treble, the company said.

The company also paid special considerati on when designing the cables for the Primo 8. The cables feature a Kevlar Silk core cables surrounded by silver and OFC wires, all of which are jacketed in a pliable polymer meant to to “eliminate mechanical noise contamination.”

Bose launched three headphones earlier this month, replacing two models.

The FreeStyle sweat- and weather-resistant ear buds feature the company’s StayHear ear tips and are offered in two colors: Indigo and Ice Blue. Hydrophobic cloth covers the acoustic ports for moisture resistance, and the cables are constructed to withstand wear and tear, Bose said. Suggested retail is $129.

The SoundTrue headphones will be offered in on-ear and around-ear configurations. The former fold up while the latter fold flat. Features include a reinforced cushioned headband with memory-foam ear cups. They will be offered in black, white, Mint, purple/Mint (on-ear only) and black/Mint (around-ear only). Both versions carry a $179 suggested retail.

These headphones will replace the AE2 and OE2 headphones, a Bose spokesman told TWICE.

All three models come with in-line mic and remotes for use with Apple devices, and all feature the company’s Tri- Port acoustic headphones structure, said to remove the need for artificial bass boosting.

They are currently available.

Bose was the No. 2 seller for headphones in the U.S. in 2013, according to The NPD Group, accounting for 10 percent of total sales. Beats Electronics was No. 1, with 28 percent.

Streamz, a Mozaex spinoff company, launched a Kickstarter campaign for its namesake headphones — an over-ear model that can directly stream music via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

The headphones were initially announced in December and previewed at International CES in January. They feature a built-in 1.6GHz processor, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and onboard storage that ranges from 4GB to 36GB, depending on the model. They also have a MicroSD slot for expansion.

Users can connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi, or to a smartphone or AVR receiver via Bluetooth, and stream music directly to the headphones.

Pricing starts at $299.

The Kickstarter campaign also aims to encourage software developers to create apps for the headphones, a spokesperson told TWICE.

So that users can play high-resolution audio files, Streamz has also built into the headphones a 48kHz/16- bit DAC, 3-watt vibration drivers, 50mm dynamic drivers and 160mW dynamic amplifiers.


Shure is holdings its third annual Open Mic Night, a week-long series of events at 48 venues across the county, April 21-27.