There's no shortage of iPhone-friendly headsets. Not many are actually designed to match an iPhone's looks, however, and Harman Kardon is counting on that urge to coordinate to draw a few listeners into a new line of very tersely-named headphones and headsets. The more conspicuous resemblances to Apple's creation come through the wired CL on-ear headphones, the Bluetooth-equipped BT over-ears and the noise-cancelling NC over-ears, all of which share a distinctly familiar-looking leather-and-steel design. Subtler listeners will still get a trace of similarity with the in-ear NI and upgraded AE buds, although most of the iPhone friendliness at their size comes through an in-line microphone and remote. Both the BT and NC are battery-powered and last for 12 and 30 hours for their respective special tricks; they'll both keep working through a wire if you've forgotten to charge up just before that Hong Kong vacation.
In step with the iPhone-heavy focus, Harman Kardon is only selling the quintet of headphones through Apple's online and physical stores, where they start at $100 for the NI and peak at the NC's $299. One caveat: we wouldn't factor the NC into any short-term trips, as it won't show until the late summer.
Harman Kardon AE, BT, CL, NISee all photos
HARMAN Brings Superior Sound, Comfort and Audio Innovation to New Line of Harman Kardon® Headphones
Modern design meets sophisticated acoustic performance in five Harman Kardon headphone models, priced from $99 to $299
For more information: HarmanKardon.com
STAMFORD, Conn. – HARMAN International Industries announced availability of a new line of Harman Kardon® headphones that deliver a performance destined to impress music lovers and longtime fans of the innovative and legendary audio brand. The Harman Kardon headphones include five options: two sound-isolating in-ear models tailored specifically for iPhone use and three on-ear and over-ear styles – including a wireless Bluetooth® and noise-cancelling model – for music lovers seeking a refined industrial design true to Harman Kardon's rich acoustical heritage.
Harman Kardon, which introduced the world's first stereo receiver in 1958, is synonymous with beautiful sound and attractive design. Pulling from a heritage of acoustic innovation, the Harman Kardon headphones incorporate optimized drivers that produce accurate bass even at low volumes, whereas many competing models today artificially exaggerate bass or treble. The distinctive rectangular shape of the in-ear, on-ear and over-ear headphones mirrors the back case of an iPhone, highlighting a design meant to pair with an iPhone, iPad or iPod.
"These headphones are enhanced by several audio technologies developed by HARMAN yet also reflect the brand's commitment to innovative industrial design," said Dinesh Paliwal, Chairman, President and CEO of HARMAN. "People who truly appreciate beautiful sound – whether it is on the go or in the living room – should not compromise when it comes to performance. These refined and distinctive headphones are built with the precision that has always defined Harman Kardon's high-fidelity products."
The headphones share several distinguishing features:
* The three on-ear/over-ear models are framed by a lightweight sand-blasted steel outer band that comes in two sizes so users can swap for the correct fit, while a leather inner band rests on the wearer's head for comfort. Steel hinges accentuate the rugged feel of the headphone frame, which does not include plastic. Leather ear pads float in an enclosed steel frame, with only soft leather touching the listener's ears. The detachable ear pads are connected by industrial-strength magnets to remove for cleaning or replacement. The headphones include 40mm drivers and have detachable cables. The headphones fold flat to slip easily into a briefcase or bag, a storage feature that will appeal to travelers. Each model includes a premium carrying case.
* Both in-ear styles were designed for passive noise cancellation so users clearly hear music and other audio content at lower volume levels – healthier for the ears. Multiple earphone sleeve options allow users to find the right fit while blocking exterior noise from disturbing the clarity of the audio content. Each model includes a three-button Apple-specified remote to make and receive phone calls while controlling volume and playback features.
Details of the five headphone models include:
* The in-ear model NI ($99.95) features 9mm drivers to provide a wide-dynamic range and high sound-pressure levels. This ultralight model has a rectangular black housing – shaped like the back of an iPhone – and a three-button remote with a built-in microphone for calls. Three sizes of silicone sleeves offer a comfortable fit and noise isolation.
* The in-ear model AE ($149.95) acoustically enhanced headphones isolate noise and are enclosed by a silver-toned aluminum casing for superior acoustic dampening to provide true low-frequency reproduction. The headphones include premium 9mm drivers optimized to work with the metal housing to deliver extended bass response. A three-button remote with a built-in microphone is included, while foam sleeves are offered along with three sizes of silicone sleeves.
* The on-ear model CL ($199) are defined by precision with metal hinges, a sand-blasted metal finish and rectangular ear cups that reflect the iPhone's iconic design. The 40mm drivers are uniquely baffled to create an air flow that extends the low frequencies – bass – better than other models in their class. The detachable cables feature highly finished metal connectors, while the cables are made of a tightly woven fabric to enhance feel as well as durability and flexibility.
* The over-ear model BT ($249) Bluetooth headphones include an integrated microphone so users don't have to remove them for a call. Built-in playback buttons sit along the side of one ear cup for easy music controls. These high-performance wireless headphones are charged via the included USB cable, but also work in passive mode. That means if the battery – which lasts 12 hours – is dead, users can attach the fabric-covered headphone cable for wired playback from an iPhone, iPod or iPad. Competitive Bluetooth headphones do not offer passive playback.
* The over-ear model NC ($299, available late summer) noise-cancelling headphones include HARMAN's proprietary digital active noise-cancelling technology the company developed for acoustic installations in premium automobiles. Slow-retention foam is used in the ear pads to create a comfortable fit that also improves passive noise cancellation by creating an acoustic seal. The headphones have a 30-hour battery life and are recharged via the included USB cable. Unlike competing noise-cancelling headphones, the Harman Kardon headphones continue to play when the battery runs dry. The headphones come with a fabric-covered detachable cable and a premium case.
The Harman Kardon headphones are now available exclusively at Apple Retail Stores and Apple.com. For additional information, visit HarmanKardon.com.