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Juszkiewicz: Onkyo Getting More Headphones, WiSA Products

Las Vegas – Onkyo is diversifying its Onkyo-brand headphone assortment with the first of a planned series of lifestyle-driven headphones, and it will launch its first WiSA-certified wireless home theater products, including speakers, later this year, Gibson Brands chairman/CEO Henry Juszkiewicz told TWICE.

Plans to ship a family of” disruptive” products have been pushed back to the Christmas selling season from an originally planned summertime shipments because of a “contractor issue” that arose a month ago, he said without disclosing the nature of the products.

Details of the WiSA products also weren’t released.

In other comments, Juszkiewicz said Gibson is building a Silicon Valley R&D center, which will be fully functional by midyear, to pursue innovative CE technologies.

He also said Teac-brand sales and marketing is being slowly integrated with Onkyo USA sales and marketing following the integration of Esoteric-brand sales and marketing with Onkyo USA. The process will be completed by year’s end. Cerwin-Vega home audio sales and marketing will also be integrated with Onkyo USA within the year, he said. During the changes, the company is “mostly retaining people” and also hiring people, he said.

Likewise, Gibson is continuing to consolidate the Onkyo, Teac, Esoteric, and Cerwin-Vega CE distribution systems worldwide and will take a year to 18 months to complete the task. Gibson is doing the same on the pro-audio/musical instrument side of its business.

In discussing headphone plans, Juszkiewicz said the Onkyo brand plans a series of headphones targeted to resolve specific consumer issues. The first SKU is a $99-MAP Trainer, a sub-branded work-out headphone. The Bluetooth on-ear headphones feature a flexible light-weight band that holds the headphone securely to the head, and its ear cushions were designed to wick away sweat. It features an open-air design so users can hear what’s going on around them, but it incorporates technologies that deliver a “great soundfield” and “compelling bass” despite the open-ear design, he said.

The work-out headphones ship in March or April with built-in hands-free microphone for convenience, eight-hour battery, and built-in music and phone controls on the side.

The headphones reflect a “new management philosophy” of “focusing on people, not product,” said Juszkiewicz.

The Onkyo brand’s first three headphones launched last year were “more traditional” models, he said. Sales were so successful that the products remain on backorder.

The new headphones feature higher than traditional margins, he said. The company will look at new channels of distribution for the products, possibly including health clubs.