Post CES Headphone News Round-Up

I spent yesterday following up on all my CES contacts and requesting review samples. It occurred to me that I oughta have a cruise through all the headphone news feeds to see what I might have missed while attending the show. Here's what I saw.

New Headphones

150122_HeadphoneNews_Photo_HDJ2000MK2Pioneer HDJ-2000MK2 ($349) - Reviewed the previous version of this headphone a couple of years ago and was quite impressed. The new 50mm dynamic driver, sealed headphones are designed for DJ with high isolation and folding features for one-eared wear. They also come with both coiled and straight cable, and a hard-side clam-shell carry case.

Had to chase up some new PR contacts, but email sent! Product page here.

150122_HeadphoneNews_Photo_BOH2Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H2 ($199) - My, oh my. B&O sure does make some pretty looking stuff. The new H2 on-ear is no exception, very cute and comes in a number of colors. Request sent in for a review sample.

This is an on-ear sealed headphone with 40mm drivers and 155 gram weight. Not sure, but it looks like the cable is removable, connects to the left ear, and includes mic/remote. Their website claims real lambskin ear-pads.

See B&O H2 product page for more info.

150122_HeadphoneNews_Photo_AKGN90QAKG GN90Q Self-Adjusting Headphones - You wouldn't believe the number of, what I can only call "headphone new tech", news pieces I found that was related to Harman and its brands. Here's a headphone that includes Clari-Fi—DSP process that's claimed to better reconstruct lossy compressed files for a better listening experience. Harman showed a 3D scanner at CES that would allow them to "mass customize" the ear pads on their headphones. JBL has begun to produce Apple Lightning Connector compatible headphones. Noise canceling sport headphones with Ambient Aware electronics that allow you to dial in how much outside sound you want to hear.

But maybe most interesting of all to me, are the new Quincy Jones branded AKG N90Q headphones with a built-in DSP technology called TruNote that automatically measures and calculates acoustic corrections for the shape of your ears, and the performance of pad seals when you turn them on. They're also noise canceling headphones, expected to be out some time this request sent.

150122_HeadphoneNews_Photo_AlpineHeadphoneAlpine Over-Ear Headphones ($299) - Alpine is jumping out of your car and onto your head with their recent introduction of an over-Ear, sealed, wireless headphone. I'm really not quite sure of what to make of the information on their press release and headphone micro-site. These cans appear to take any input analog signal and convert it to the digital domain to allow you then to control EQ and some other settings from an app. They also tout their TKR3 (tuned kinetic resonance) that seems to have something to do with sending the acoustic signal behind the driver up into the headband! From their site:

TKR3 Technology addresses the fundamental issue with speaker drivers. Typical standard headphone drivers simply cannot move enough air to create an immersive low frequency experience without damaging your ears. TKR3 utilizes the headband structure to transmit acoustic low frequency to blend with our tuned 40mm drives.

Ooookay...I'm ready to try anything once. Email sent.

150122_HeadphoneNews_Photo_ATPHA100Audio Technica AT-PHA100 Portable Headphone Amp (~$800) - Must have missed it when I got distracted by their AT-HA5050H high-end headphone amp, but Audio Technica has just introduced a new portable headphone amp, the AT-PHA100. Why not? Everyone else seems to be doing it these days.

This little DAC/amp will accept both analog (3.5mm jack) and digital (USB) inputs. The ESS ES9018K2M does the DAC duties decoding up to 384kHz/32-bit PCM, and DSD audio sources at 2.8/5.6MHz. Controls include hi/lo gain switch and side-mounted volume control; it also has a five step sample rate indicator. Battery life is claimed as 14 hours.

Newsy Stuff
150122_HeadphoneNews_Photo_AvegantGlyphHeadphones for Your Eyes - I've often thought that headphones make a very good platform for including a visual display. The news feeds found a couple of devices that begin to explore that option. The photo to the left is the Avegant Glyph, a headphone when worn normally, but also a visual display when you rotate the headband down over your eyes. Interesting, but I'm wondering how comfortable the eye pieces would be on the top of your head when used as a headphones. And keeping the eyepieces clean might be tough.

You'll have to click to see a picture, but the Optinvent ORA-X is like Google glass in reverse: headphones with an eyepiece, rather than eyeglasses that you need to attach headphones to. A much better solution, in my view.

Monster Mash - Just a couple of tid-bits on current goings on at Monster. First, Noel Lee apparently feels he was squeezed out of some money in the Apple Beats buyout. He's only looking for $100M of the $3B deal. Just pocket change for those guys. :rollseyes

They're not up on the website yet, but I saw a news piece that Monster now has an Adidas branded sports headphone line. Huh, I thought Adidas was with Sennheiser!? I called my Sennheiser PR rep and sure enough, Adidas and Sennheiser have parted ways.

150122_HeadphoneNews_Photo_BeatlesHeadphonesHeadphone Literature - My first thought on reading this news piece on Ted Montgomery's recent book "The Beatles Through Headphones" was surprise it hadn't been done before. Well, it has, of course...sort of. Wes Phillips mentions hearing minutia on Beatles records in his Stereophile AKG K701 review. And there's a website dedicated to oddities buried in the Beatles catalog. But this new book focuses specifically on the Beatles and the headphone listening experience.

Available on Amazon...hmm, that might be fun!

zobel's picture

Yeah, especially the AKG N90Q with that DSP built in. I am wondering how the frequency response works. Would it do a full frequency sweep, adjust EQ, then do another sweep to check corrections? Or would it produce pink noise and analyze the signal, then adjust EQ to conform to flat or target response? What I wonder the most about all of these headphones is how do they sound, and how do they feel when worn. That is where we depend on you Tyll.

Glad you have some new cans coming to review! looking forward to your views on them.

QuartBernstein's picture

Surprised Audio Technica unveiled the M70x/R70x etcetera at NAMM!

lam90lm's picture

Hello Tyll,
have you tried the new Sennheiser Momentum Wireless yet?
If so, how do they sound compared to the wired? As for design, would you suggest the ivory or the black ones?
Thanks for your reply :)

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Not yet, but I have requested them.
ina's picture

I'd very much like to see a comparison of the new Sony MDR 1A to other near priced hps like the Viso HP50, Spirit Classic and old MDR 1R

ednaz's picture

Someone gave me a pair of toxic waste green Quincy Jones on ear phones, and I was surprised how much I liked the way they sounded. Very plastic-y, closed back but that was pretty much a fiction since they were small on-ear, but sounded really good, nice detail, well balanced, and to me, quite a bit different than the AKG that they were based on. Had me back and forth thinking about buying the larger open-back ones. Unfortunately someone else wanted them enough to steal them off my desk.

If the small tuning tweaks are done to Quincy Jones' taste, those just might become my next headphone splurge, although I really dislike noise canceling headphones in general.

steaxauce's picture

Did you get a chance to stop by the JH Audio booth? I'd be interested to hear what you have to say about Layla/Angie.

dmanzo's picture

Those B&O look really good. Can't wait to read how they sound

DisCHORD's picture

I really wish Harman would just have the AKG brand release audiophile and professional products, and use some other brand with more recognition in the consumer world release this kind of stuff. How much money is Harman even making off of AKG branded headphones outside of their audiophile lineup?

Rusk Reeder's picture

This is also new.

I was checking the Audessey website to see what they are up to. They are the EQ specialists founded by Tomlison Holman of THX fame. I'm sure Tyll knows.

Turns out they have released a 99c iOS app that equalizes many different headphones. Even brands like Nocs and Noontec. They do measuremens on a dummy head and then apply the corrective EQ to the model in question. I don't own any iOS products so I can't assess how well it works. It flew under my radar. Came out in October. You might want to check it out Tyll, on their website or the Apple App store.

A brief introduction: My name is Rusk Reeder, and I have been following the site for quite some time. I apologize for not having posting before now.

Anyway, I hope this news is helpful and felt that it fit in with these other new developments.


Za Warudo's picture

Tyl, any chance you could get a chance to hear the new Noontec Zoro HD II? From some early reviews it seems it might be a significant improvement to the Zoro HD.

Belinda3fy's picture

Cool headphones: http: //

zell's picture

Cool! your headphones you got there are awesome. The Avegant Glyph caught my attention it's very unique. No! it is super unique.

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physics's picture

Hi Tyll,

Do you have any idea on when there might be a review of the M70X? Thanks.