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Avegant's headphone-like wearable display arrives this fall

Avegant’s Glyph headset has been long in the making, but it finally looks to be ready for action… well, almost. The unique mash-up of headphone and wearable display is now poised to ship in fall 2015 for $599, or $499 if you pre-order before January 15th. That’s both a long time to wait and more expensive than you might have expected from the Kickstarter campaign, but that patience may just pay off. Avegant has unveiled the finished design for the Glyph (shown here), and it’s much sleeker than earlier concepts and prototypes would suggest – you’d be hard-pressed to tell that there are eyepieces tucked into the headband. We’ll give the finished design a try as soon as we can, so watch this space if you’re looking for a video headset that could liven up your commute.

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Beats sues headphone startup CEO for saying he's a co-founder (updated)

Beats isn’t happy that ROAM CEO Steven Lamar is taking credit for co-founding its headphone business and demanding extra royalties – it’s firing back with a lawsuit of its own. The Apple-owned company claims that Lamar “deliberately misrepresented” his involvement in its early days. He didn’t have an ownership role in the company, Beats says, and Jibe Audio (which Lamar once ran) reportedly wasn’t responsible for any aspects of its initial headphone designs. We’ve reached out to ROAM for Lamar’s response, although we can’t imagine that he’ll take the lawsuit lying down. Much of ROAM’s credibility is based on the connection to Beats, and it becomes just another audio company if it loses those bragging rights.

Update: ROAM has responded. To no one’s surprise, it’s unhappy – it argues the lawsuit is full of “erroneous and unsubstantiated claims,” and that Lamar’s key role in Beats has been known for years. He never said he was an employee or shareholder, ROAM insists. The firm also hopes for an “immediate and positive resolution” to the suit, but we wouldn’t count on that happening.

[Image credit: Andrew Burton/Getty Images]

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Nine Inch Nails masters new album a second time for high-end audio gear

Many audiophiles will tell you that modern albums are too “loud” – that the mastering process emphasizes bass and volume over subtlety. Nine Inch Nails will soon cater to these more demanding listeners with a special Audiophile Mastering Edition of its upcoming Hesitation Marks album. The additional mix will be truer to what Trent Reznor and crew heard in the studio, and should sound best on high-end audio equipment that can reproduce a wide audio range. The band warns that most fans won’t notice the difference with this new version. However, there’s no penalty for giving it a try – anyone who buys Hesitation Marks from NIN’s site will get to download the Audiophile cut for free when the album launches on September 3rd.

[Image credit: Nine Inch Nails, Flickr]

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B&O Play H3 and H6 bring Bang & Olufsen's newer badge to headphones

Bang & Olufsen already offers headphones, and it has the B&O Play line to serve a mobile-oriented world. Wouldn’t it be nice if the two categories mixed? As of today, they do. The B&O Play H3 in-ears and H6 over-ears apply that Danish love of aluminum and leather to the kind of headphones you’d want to pack with your MP3 player or smartphone. The H3 carries 10.8mm drivers, a mini bass port and a 20Hz to 16kHz range in a unibody shape that should hold up to exercise; the slightly more stationary H6 over-ears sport 40mm drivers and a wider 20Hz to 22kHz range. Both have primarily iOS-oriented in-line mics and remotes, although the H6 alone has Monster-sourced daisy chaining support to share tunes with others. Don’t expect a significant break in B&O’s premium pricing just because they’re B&O Play-branded headsets, however. The H3 and H6 will respectively cost €249 and €399 when they hit some retail stores in May, and US pricing isn’t likely to be much cheaper.

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Mad Catz F.R.E.Q. 7 gaming headset pushes the EQ side, adds virtual 7.1 sound

Mad Catz launched the F.R.E.Q. 5 gaming headset just over a year ago, and it’s already skipping two model numbers ahead to the F.R.E.Q. 7. What justifies the out-of-order sequencing? The Dolby Pro Logic IIx processing, mostly. The pseudo-surround effect widens stereo and 5.1-channel signals to 7.1 channels for gamers who want the greater audio precision. Appropriately enough for its name, the F.R.E.Q. 7 also brings software-driven EQ to emphasize voice or music in computer games, as well as separate volume adjustment for chat and the main action. Pre-orders for the USB- and 3.5mm-friendly headset are available in red, white and two styles of black at $200, although you’ll have to wait until the start of Mad Catz’s fiscal 2014 – after March, for non-accountants – before it reaches your door.

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Ultimate Ears intros Vocal Reference Monitors to save singers from strain

Believe it or not, few musicians’ in-ear reference monitors are tuned to emphasize voice; singers might have to compete for attention with wailing guitars and drums inside their own heads. Rather than risk artists shouting themselves hoarse, Ultimate Ears has launched its Vocal Reference Monitors. Separate versions for men and women focus on their typical vocal ranges and narrow the frequency range to between 90Hz and 8kHz, cutting out the more extreme sounds of instruments in the mix. The $999 price rules out the Vocal line for most garage bands – it might, however, be perfect for pros whose screaming isn’t part of the act.

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Jabra readies Revo and Revo Wireless over-ear headphones, Vox in-ears

Jabra has been venturing further and further into headphones after years of focusing on headsets and speakerphones. CES 2013 is a perfect mirror of that shift: all three products it’s launching at the show are geared towards music lovers rather than plain old conference calling. The Revo and Bluetooth-based Revo Wireless (above) both integrate Dolby Digital Plus audio processing and, along with a companion app for Android and iOS, may eke out more detail than usual from compressed songs. These and the in-ear Vox (after the break) are also designed to take a fair amount of abuse, Jabra says. The audio firm is mum on prices, but its new earpieces should grace ears sometime in the second quarter of the year.

Follow all the latest CES 2013 news at our event hub.

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Harman's IFA headphone lineup is Soho chic and audiophile focused

Not into Harman’s over-ear CL headphones? The outfit has you covered at IFA: introducing Soho, a scaled down variant with a similarly classy design. These these headphones differ from their bigger sibling thanks to a headband with adjustable sliders and supra-aural earcups. The Squared leather earpads feature memory foam padding and stay in place with magnets for easy access to the replaceable cabling (separate cables for both iOS and Android are included), and each earcup houses a 30mm driver. The cans even fold flat for easy stowing and come with a matching carrying case. The Soho headphones will hit shelves later this year for roughly $200 in your choice of “camel,” black and tan. For now, we’re left to wonder how these ended up looking so much like B&W’s P3 headphones.

In addition to Soho, two new reference-class headphones are being introduced under the AKG brand. The K545 model builds on the design of its K550 with lighter materials and detachable smartphone-ready cabling, while the K845BT adds Bluetooth and NFC into the mix. Both models feature 50mm drivers, studio-style design and over-ear fits – they’ll also fold flat for when you need to travel to your next listening session. Set to hit later this year, the K845BT will be available in four colors for $350, and the K545 will come in silver and black for $250.

Follow all of our IFA 2013 coverage by heading to our event hub! Read more
Bowers & Wilkins P3 headphones arrive in red this October for $200

The words red and October together might conjure up thoughts of Tom Clancy or Kanye West, but now you can also associate them with Bowers & Wilkins. Starting next month, the company will offer up its compact P3 headphones in the vibrant hue. The latest color option for the iPhone-compatible on-ear cans joins the likes of the blue, black and white variants for the same $200 price tag. If you like your headphones to look as loud as they sound, you’ll find more details in the press release after the break. Here’s to hoping the P5 gets a similarly rosey treatment soon.

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Engadget's back to school guide 2013: portable audio

Welcome to Engadget’s back to school guide! Today, we’re talking portable audio. Head to the back to school hub to see the rest of the product guides as we add them throughout the month. Be sure to keep checking back; in early September, we’ll be giving away a ton of gear.

College isn’t cheap – especially with loan rates on the rise – but arming yourself with beats to take all over campus doesn’t have to cost a fortune. If you’re set on having great audio along for your cross-classroom travels, we’d like to help. As such, we’ve compiled a list containing nine of our favorite portable audio products that blend fun, portability, good looks and great sound across a variety of price points. Audiophile or not, don’t sacrifice your sound too much this semester!

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Plantronics' $130 Rig gaming headset homes in on the mobile gaming crowd

We’ve known Plantronics to craft solid PC gaming headsets and now, separate from the GameCom series, its new Rig package aims to appease gamers on every platform. The stereo headset itself features a slim profile with circumarual earcups that fold flat and it connects with two included cables: one features a boom mic, while the other packs an in-line remote and mic for smartphones. The heart of the setup lies within a wired mixer, which’ll let you hook up your cellphone, gaming rig (computer or console via USB and Toslink) and the headset simultaneously.

Aside from a slider that lets you adjust the balance of game and chat volume (à la Astro’s Mixamp), you can answer phone calls and re-route the mic as necessary at the press of a rocker switch. What’s more, game audio (including chat) can be mixed into your headset during calls and visa versa via a second balance slider. Lastly, you’ll have a choice of three EQ profiles, including a bass boost for extra wubs. Rig will hit retailers in the fall for $130, and we’re told future products under the moniker will drop beyond that. Full press release after the break.

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B&O Play H3, H6 headphones debut stateside: danish design, premium prices

It was just last month that Bang & Olufsen unveiled the H3 and H6 headphones under its cheaper-to-enter B&0 Play brand for the EU. Today, B&O introduced these two dapper additions stateside, announcing them at its SoHo NY shop. If you’ll recall, the aluminum-clad H3 in-ears pack 10.3mm drivers aided by mini bass ports, while the H6 over-ears feature 40mm drivers and a healthy heaping of leather-wrapped memory foam padding. Both have an iOS-friendly inline remote and straight 3.5mm-capped cabling. We spent some time with the H6 and we’re surprised at how light it is – which also made for an extremely comfortable first impression when it was placed around this editor’s ears. The sound from the H6’s drivers is crispy and light with a fairly flat voicing that’s free of any noticeable sibilance. A 3.5mm input resides on each of its earcups, which allows for daisy-chaining so you can listen with a buddy. We’re told the H3 intra-aurals should sound similar (we couldn’t get a clean pair to jam in our ears). %Gallery-187820%

Expect to pay $250 for the H3 and $400 for the H6 come July, which is a bit pricier than the likes of B&W’s P3 and P5 headphones. We’ll have to get back to you about whether the prices match the products, but grab a look in the gallery for now.

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Bose intros AE2w Bluetooth headphones, competitively priced at $250

Although Bose has been using Bluetooth in its Aviation headsets, SoundLink portable speakers and earpieces for cellphones, wireless headphones have been lacking from the company’s roster. That’s changing today, with the company email-blasting US customers about its just-released AE2w Bluetooth headphones. Think of these as a pair of AE2 (roughly $150) over-ear cans with an A2DP-enabled Bluetooth dongle tacked on. This protrusion (which is removeable) provides access to a multi-function button, volume controls, power switch and micro-USB port for charging. Battery life is seven hours, with 200-hours of standby, which is about the norm for this type of kit. The Bluetooth unit enables actively-equalized audio, but can be swapped for a 3.5mm cable (included) – this is ideal for long trips away from power. If you’re interested, the AE2w are available in the US directly from Bose today for $250 – pinning it as a competitor to cans like the apt-X-enabled Klipsch Image One Bluetooth. Our EU-based readers will also be pleased to know that sites like Tom’s Hardware Guide (Italian) have them pegged to arrive May 14th for 250 euros.

[Thanks, Motty]

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V-moda unveils Vamp Verza: a dockable, device-agnostic headphone amp and DAC for mobile audiophiles (update: video)

Last we heard from V-moda, the company was appealing to audiophile sensibilities with its $300 Crossfade M-100 portable headphones. Continuing in that respect, today it’s officially unveiling the Vamp Verza as a followup to last summer’s $650 iPhone 4/4S-purposed Vamp spy tool headphone amp, DAC & case combo. The aluminum-clad Verza is a device-agnostic solution that uses a sliding dock system with special $100 Metallo cases to give any supported devices a similar all-in-one feel to the original.

At launch, a GS III case is available, with an iPhone 5 model a few weeks out – the company is aiming to get GS IV and Note II cases out next. The unit’s 150mW x 2 amplifier will bypass your iDevice’s audio output via a USB port on its bottom, while an adjacent microUSB port can take advantage of the external sound card profile found in Android Jelly Bean. V-moda notes the microUSB port acts like a traditional USB audio device, so it’ll work with mostly any device. As you might guess, both ports have their own specific DACs routing audio at different power levels to its op-amp.%Gallery-181437%

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CES 2013: Audio roundup

With CES 2013 wrapped up, it’s safe to say that audio wasn’t exactly a hallmark of the show in the gadgety sense. As a whole, manufacturers brought their latest creations, but even calling most of them evolutionary would be a stretch. That point was confirmed when Sennheiser, an audio maven, focused its attention on its rare Orpheus headphone system – something manufactured decades ago. This year, the show felt like a minefield of updates and lineup extensions, with companies – and Carly Rae Jepsen – exclaiming, “me too!” When Parrot unveiled Zik last year it was crazy to see all that tech jammed into a pair of headphones, but that quickly became the norm. Now, it’s totally common to see the likes of NFC, inductive charging and wireless connectivity in audio gear.

It wasn’t a total snooze fest, though. Sure, nothing really stood out the way an 8K UHD TV could, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be a solid year for audio. However, it may just be a bit boring now that good sound and the latest tech are being brought together at every corner. Join us after the break for this year’s sonic standouts.

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Dr. Amar Bose, audio visionary, dies at 83

Opinions about Bose’s consumer audio products aside, there’s no discrediting the extensive contributions its founder added to the world of amplified sound. On that note, we’re saddened to report that its Founder, Chairman and Technical Director, Dr. Amar Gopal Bose, has died – this, just two years after donating a majority of Bose Corporation shares to MIT. According to MIT News, after earning degrees in Electric Engineering at the college, he taught there from 1956 until 2001. While teaching, he studied physical and psycho-acoustics, which resulted in his patents in “acoustics, electronics, nonlinear systems and communication theory.” In 1964 he founded the company, Bose Corporation, that would bring us the well-known noise-cancelling headphones and audio systems that many have come cherish. An official statement from Bose Corp. and more info about the man himself can be found at the source links.

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Sony unveils NFC-enabled Bluetooth speakers, waterproof Walkman MP3 headphones at CES (eyes-on)

With Sony’s CES press conference literally just starting, we’re pleased to give you a look at the latest sound pushers from its Personal Audio Division. The company’s still aiming for that classicly subtle, retro-futuristic look on these new devices, so you might not be swayed if you’ve never been a fan of the aesthetic in the past. That said, we’re pretty impressed with what’s inside of ‘em. To start, there’s a duo of new NFC-packing speaker bars intended for use in and around the house – think of them as wireless replacements for your old docking speaker. Monikered as the not-so catchy SRS-BTX500 and BTX300, both can handle AAC and apt-X streaming over Bluetooth, staying charged for eight and six hours, respectively. Naturally, NFC handles pairing and powering the devices on for seamless tap-to-start playback.

Both systems will house “damperless” drivers, which Sony claims reduces vibration and increases clarity. Each system also features a USB port that’ll charge your devices and speakerphone capabilities, as these are becoming the norm. While the bars we handled were dummies, we aren’t fond of the fragile kickstand found on the smaller 300. We managed to easily knock the speaker over trying to fiddle with its clumsily locking switch. Otherwise, these might make a nice addition around the house in March if the sound matches up to the $300 (BTX500, in black) and $200 (BTX300, in white or black) price points. Beyond those, Sony’s announcing US availability during the same month for its smaller – also NFC and Bluetooth-packing – SRS-BTM8 ($99, in black) and BTM5 ($69, in black, white and pink) speakers. The BTM8 is begging to be taken on your next picnic thanks to its carrying handle, while the BTM5 is a palmable orb with one up-firing speaker for when you need a speakerphone in a pinch.


Lastly, the company is highlighting its newest Walkman-branded MP3 fitness headphones, the NZW-W270. While the Bluetooth in-ears look similar to previous models, Sony’s made them completely waterproof this time around (previous models were only water resistant). You’ll get 4GB of non-expandable onboard storage, as well as up to eight hours of use from its internal battery. Better yet, a three-minute quick charge from a dead battery will yield up to an hour of run-time. Expect it to hit shelves in black, white, pink and blue this March for 100 bones. Check out the galleries above for a closer look in the meantime – bonus points if you manage to recall the product names after you move on to more of our CES coverage.

Follow all the latest CES 2013 news at our event hub.

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Bose unveils SoundLink Mini Bluetooth speaker, QuietComfort 20 noise-cancelling in-ears (ears-on)

Nestled near an entrance inside Grand Central Terminal, Bose just unveiled its latest two portable audio creations: The SoundLink Mini Bluetooth speaker (A2DP) and QuietComfort 20 noise-cancelling in-ears. Measuring in at 2 x 7 x 2 inches (slightly larger than palm-sized), the aluminum-wrapped SoundLink Mini is slightly larger and heavier than a JawBone Jambox. Like its bigger brethren, the Mini has dual-opposing passive bass radiators and a two custom neodymium drivers for mids and highs. Bose claims these new drivers will output twice the volume of other, similar speakers.

While the unit will bust out the jams for seven hours, it sadly uses a proprietary charging dock. Thankfully, however, the Li-Ion battery is user replaceable. All the controls rest as a strip of silicone buttons on the top, while the side features a 3.5mm input jack. We’re digging the look of the naked metal, though, rubber covers and a nylon carry pouch will be on offer for protection. The unit’s audio quality was very pleasing, without any notable harshness. We noted an acceptable level of bass on the lowest notes of dubstep tracks and there wasn’t too much distortion when cranked up. Join us past the break for more info on the in-ears, as well as all the pricing and availability details for both items. %Gallery-190314%

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Sony intros MDR-X05 headphones: massive Simon Cowell-endorsed bass, small footprint

Is this really happening, again? Why, yes, it is. Following up on its massive MDR-X10 bass-pumping headphones from last year, Sony and Simon Cowell have introduced the MDR-X05. As you might take from the name, the cans are basically a smaller addition to the series, packing 40MM drivers (down from 50) and a few more color options (red/black, red/red, white/silver, red/silver and black/silver) – some of which do the headphones more justice than the silver/red colorway we got our mitts on previously. As far as we can tell, by the way, these are very likely a re-badge of the MDR-X400 headphones for the American market. As you’d expect, the cans fold flat for storage and feature an iDevice-compatible inline remote and mic. %Gallery-180159%

Unlike the X10, the tangle-proof flat cabling isn’t removeable and connects using both earcups, but the connections seem robust enough to handle a good bit of torture. Because the same materials and finish are used on the X05 as the X10, the headphones feel virtually the same in-hand – a bit plasticky, but solid overall. The headphones may be smaller, but they still manage to feel nearly as cosy and isolate a fair amount amount of external noise as their bigger brother, mostly because they’re packing the same style of plush memory foam earpads wrapped in synthetic leather. As far as sound quality goes, the bass push on these is just as smooth and open-sounding as the X10, but the high-end is noticeably harsher – we definitely felt the need to turn on “treble reducer” in our iPhone’s EQ settings. If you’re bass-hungry ears are interested, the X05 headphones are up for pre-sale at Sony’s online store for $200 (100 less than the X10), but the smaller discount won’t make them look any less loud on your ears while you’re out and about. You can expect ‘em to hit shelves March 22nd. For now, find more details in the press release after the break.

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Philips showcases its 2013 Fidelio audio lineup at CES, we go eyes-on

Philips isn’t showing off anything too groundbreaking at CES in the audio department, but it looks to be a solid offering all-around nonetheless. Whether you’re eyeing the likes of a new soundbar for your home theater system or portable wireless speakers, the company should have you covered with latest Fidelio offerings – and, of course, that’s not all. We’ve got a quick breakdown of all the goods being shown off after the break, along with eyes-on galleries so you can get up-close looks for yourself. As always, you’ll find the full press releases below it all for more info.

Follow all the latest CES 2013 news at our event hub.

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