On the gadget-laden headphone front, we saw some interesting sensory technology. Skullcandy introduced its latest vibrating headphones, the Crusher, which we found to be surprisingly pleasing in our initial ears-on usage. The rumbling feeling felt to our Managing Editor, Darren Murph, more like a fairly accurate, audio-enhancing sensation (as Skullcandy describes it), rather than annoying buzzing. That said, it will likely prove better for movies and games, not extended listening sessions -- unless you're a basshead, of course. Better yet, the headphones are battery-powered, but the rumbling effect will still function if your juice runs out. A $100 price point will make the deal even sweeter come March.
AblePlanet & ViviTouch smart haptics gaming headset
Taking things a step further, ViviTouch and AblePlanet showed us their progress toward a smart haptics gaming headset. We've seen the former's work on gaming controllers in the past, and seeing it come to the audio side of things is exciting. Rather than being stuck with a usual vibration motor, a thin electroactive polymer that can precisely mimic various kinds of rumbling is embedded in the earcups. It's definitely a few steps up from what we've heard in the past, and hopefully it will make our in-game sound more immersive sooner than later.
Panasonic bone conduction headphones
Then there was Panasonic with its Bluetooth-equipped bone conduction headphones. Again, not the first time we've seen anything like this, but a solid -- and interesting -- effort nonetheless. Looking similar to earbuds, the sound emitting portions actually rest just in front of the ears under your temples. Our editor on the floor, James Trew, decided it was extremely hard to hear given all the loudness around him, adding that even a few times louder would likely still not be enough. It's a prototype as of this writing, though you might find them in stores later this year for about $200 if all goes according to plan.
Perhaps the most interesting bit of audio news wasn't even hardware -- albeit from a company most known for its headphones. Following its Mog acquisition and teases about a collaboration with Trent Reznor, Beats Electronics officially announced its ready to take the subscription music streaming segment by storm. There are really no concrete details, but Project Daisy will be its more personable answer to the likes of Spotify -- something that it claims will be much better for the music listener than what's currently available. It certainly has the brand power behind it, so we'll see what happens come later this year.