CES 2014 came and went and with it we got even more headphones of all kinds. We had some traditional headphones, some headphones with the now almost-obligatory mic and inline remote control but as also got some different and unusual entries, including an Android-powered headphone, touch-sensitive controls, a headphone with a built-in amp (from AT none-the-less), experimental designs from Intel, and more!
Sennheiser needs no introduction and one of the actual Sennheisers (the humans) gave Gizmodo an interview, talking headphones and the smartphone generation and a lot more. It is pretty informative!
Sennheiser revealed a trio of DJ headphones in the HD-series line, the HD6 Mix, the HD7 DJ and the HD8 DJ, with the higher model number getting higher prices – $280, $330 and $390 respectively. The two more expensive ones have 95 impedance while the HD6 Mix (as the name suggests) is more of a studio-ish headphone with a 150 omh impedance. Sennheiser already had a number of DJ-ish headphones, but with the DJ phenomenon continuing to refuse to go away, it makes sense for them to jump in deeper like this.
Sennheiser also paid attention to the popularity of Samsung Galaxy devices and they are releasing the MM 30G earphones that are guaranteed to work out of the box with the latest Galaxy smartphones and tablets. That’s the “G” for Galaxy in their product name, not to be confused with the already available MM30i. Featured at Stuff.tv and YouTube (Sennheiser).
Sennheiser is also making bluetooth headsets for smartphone users for voice-calls, they are showing theirnew “Presence” at CES as you can see on their YouTube channel.
Audio Technica ATH-OX7 AMP Sonic Fuel
The most interesting perhaps of this round of Audio Technica new headphones is the ATH-OX7 AMP, which, as the name suggests, have an actual built-in amp into the headphones, powered by a single AAA battery. The headphones work with or without a battery, but obviously you need the battery to power the amp portion. This also means that you can use them with your own amps by turning off the built-in amp.
They are part of their new Sonic Fuel line of headphones, their attempt to jump on the popular consumer headphone buying trend of the Beats, Sol Republics, Skullcandy with a “trendy” name.
The MSRP price is $300 but we’ll have to wait to see where it will settle when it comes out for purchase.
More new Audio Technica SonicFuel and Gaming Headphones
In addition to the Amp’ed headphone mentioned above, Audio Technica populated their more affordable Sonic Fuel line-up with five new over-ear ATH-AX-series headphones and six new ATH-CKX-series in-ear earphones. Now, they are not as many as the number sounds, because most of them have two versions, with or without microphone and remote control. So in essence, it is three new over-ears and three new in-ears.
The prices range from $40 to $100 for the above. Of the over-ears, the leader is the ATH-AX5iS with 40mm drivers, flat-folding design and tangle-free cord and included pouch. The frequency response is 5-25k Hz, with 24 omh so it should be friendly to most mobile and portable devices, 105 dB/mW sensitivity, and 3.5″ plug.
Audio Technica too is jumping in the gaming headset pool with their first releases which you can find at What Hifi? and Digital Trends. These are available in either closed or open back design, with the usual AT naming scheme of ATH-AG1 and ATH-ADG1. Their starting price is $350.
But wait, there’s more! AT also announced the new ATH-ANC70 active noise canceling headphones (as their model name suggests) with 90% and 40mm drivers and a $200 price. More on these at Digital Trends. These should not be confused with the existing ATH-ANC7 and ANC7b.
The Heritage line was featured at Innerfidelity during their tour of CES 2014.
Panasonic appears to be a lot more successful commercially with their affordable sub-$50 headphones and earphones but that doesn’t mean they gave up on the rest of the market. At CES 2014, they were spotlighting their RP-HC800 active noise cancelling headphones and their RP-BTD10 bluetooth headphones. More details at Pocket Lint.
Audiofly associated itself with popular DJ Tiesto and this association is profiled interview-style at Sound and Vision (no subscription required to read it).
Sol Republic Relays
Sol Republic got some more attention with their Replays, a design that promise to be good enough for both everyday use and also as sports and workout earphones. Thus the “Replays” name. As always, the proof will be in the pudding (and the earwax) when they get reviewed independently.
More on these at Engadget
Sol Republic is already running the hype machine for these with blog giveaways.
50 Cent and SMS Audio score Star Wars licensing
50 Cent and SMS Audio managed to score a very high profile licensing deal, Star Wars! With Disney taking over from Lucas and working on an avalanche of new movies and other content, this bodes quite well for the bullet-friendly rapper. As part of this new agreement, SMS Audio has announced four different designs, the Rebel Alliance, the Galactic Empire, the popular (and rumored to be getting a movie of his own) Boba Fett, and of course the iconic Storm Troopers. More on these at Engadget.
It’s not just Star Wars for Mr 50, he is also launching a “Sports Collection” of some of his existing designs as you can see at Business Wire and Engadget, hoping to score with these as much as the endorsing Carmelo Anthony does!
Monster is checking all the buzzword check-marks with the new DNA Pro Wireless headphones. You get bluetooth and active noise cancelling and touch-sensitive controls. They will start at a price that matches their buzzwords, $450. More details at Reviewed.com and iMore.
Tired of the bling wars, Monster is going all out with the new “24K” headphones, which, as the name suggests, look like they are made of gold. What will be the percentage of douchebags to normal people wearing these? These are DJ-style headphones with swiveling earcups and inline audio controls with a starting price of $280. More on these at Monster and on YouTube with rapper Meek Mill interviewed.
Monster also managed to get Adidas to “cheat” on fellow German company Sennheiser – Monster and Adidas will be launching together a new line of “Adidas Originals” headphones. Details at Reuters and SlashGear.
More from Monster, they have new “limited edition” color schemes for the DiamondZ headphones as you can see at Ubergizmo.
Sound and Vision talks Soul by Ludacris from the celebrity endorsement perspective.
The new generation of Soul by Ludacris headphones pivoted to new designs and marketing, moving away from direct competition with the fashionable Beats. At CES 2014 they revealed their new Combat+ Wireless Bluetooth 4.0 headphones. They have a starting price of $250. More on these at Tech Power Up
Skullcandy has an interesting color schemed headphones for the ladies, blending skulls, flowers and purple as you can see at Engadget.
Razer wants the world of non-gamers to know that they are now also making headphones for music mainly. Their new Razer Adaro is coming out with a reasonable price of $100, and you can see more of them at the Slash Gear hands-on post.
These were part of a bigger Razer audio announcement, including the Adaro Wireless (Bluetooth) for $150 and the Adaro DJ analog for $200 and the Adaro in-ears for $80. More on these at Razer Zone and Slash Gear and Tech Gage and Ubergizmo.
Streamz: smart Android-powered headphones
It was bound to happen eventually and it happened at CES 2014. The first pair of Android-powered “smart” headphones, the “Streamz” by Mozaex. They have all kinds of “digital” features, including 4GB of on-board memory and microSD expansion (up to 32GB). They have a CD-quality DAC on-board, dual-core system-on-a-chip, Wifi and Bluetooth playback, optional Bluetooth AVR receiver, 50mm drivers, etc. With all the buzzwords and features, the MSRP for these is $550.
Rave Touch headphones
Touch-sensitive headphones are slowly but steadily springing up at more places and Whitelabel revealed their new “Rave Touch” headphones for CES 2014 as you can see at Technology Tell.
They showed their new MZW855 3D surround sound bluetooths as you can see at Legit Reviews.
Everybody is getting their own “branded” headphones, so why not some Margaritaville headphones? They are offered by MTX Audio, spotlighted at CE Pro.
Audiophiles may not be particularly interested in bluetooth headsets but they can be practical if you have to use a bluetooth headset. Jawbone is back doing what it does best, and they have unleashed the second generation of their Jawbone Ear headset. This is even smaller than the original, 42% smaller they claim, up to ten hours of battery life, and bundled charging case. The price is $100 for the headset and $130 with the bundled case. Curious about these? Check out the previews at CNet.com and Engadget and The Verge.
Interesting Uses of Earphones
With CES being a tech show, various products tried to use and integrate earphones in their operation. We spotlight some of them below…
Other Related Things at CES 2014
Tyll was there at CES and he has a feature at Inner Fidelity on the DTS Headphone X tuning program. Video is included over there as well.
Comply eartips are popular with some audiophiles, and now they are into the headphone earpad game, so Inner Fidelity paid them a visit at CES 2014 to see what they are up to. Their highest profile earpad client so far appear to be the new line of Soul (by Ludacris) Combat headphones.
On the high end audio front, CNet created a slide show featuring some of the new wallet busters. Also rounding up is Engadget and The Verge looking at some of the interesting audio announcements at the show.
If you love slideshows, CNet has prepared a slideshow with 17 slick headphones shown at CES 2014.
Players, Amps, Dacs, Etc
Hifiman quietly announced two new portable music players at CES as you can see at the last paragraph of the CNet report. The HM-802 will go for $700 while the HM-700 will go for $250, perhaps in response (and a competitor to) the Fiio X3?
The AK240 audiophile music player is featured at Reviewed.com.
Korg is in on the game as well as they have revealed two USB DACs under the AudioGate line as you can see at Engadget.
Also at CES, Harman Audio was spotlighting their “Signal Doctor” technology that, as the name suggests, helps lower quality music tracks sound better. Details at CNet.com.
Also trying to “fix” sound are Blue Headphones with their “Mo-Fi” initiative mentioned at Engadget.