In case you hadn't heard, today is 808 Day. To properly celebrate the occasion, audio gear maker Roland is padding its gadget lineup. Headphone company V-Moda announced today that it had sold a majority stake to Roland forming "a brand new partnership" that will "develop the next breakthrough music products." The press release announcing the deal calls it "a strategic investment," but Roland now owns a 70 percent stake in V-Moda and CEO Val Kolton will control the remaining 30 percent. Kolton will remain in his current role while also serving as a product design consultant for Roland's dance, DJ and electronic music division.
"V-Moda revolutionized headphones and has pushed the envelope of personalization," said Roland CEO Jun-ichi Miki. "Their Milano design, material research and professional DJ roots along with their loyal customers are incredible assets for Roland." The two companies are no strangers as they collaborated on an AIRA-branded version of the M-100 headphones last year.
Speaking of the M-100s, the headphone company is perhaps best known for those Crossfade headphones that blend metal, leather and exposed hardware for its recognizable design. Last fall, V-Moda debuted a wireless version of the cans that switch off all the components housed inside when a 3.5mm cable is plugged in -- an important feature for DJs and audio pros. The Crossfade cans can also be customized to fit the users personal taste. They come in black and white with silver, gold and black accents, featuring removeable "shields" on the outside of the earcups. Based on the wording of today's news, it sounds like the ability for customers to personalize their portable audio gear is something Roland looks to continue.
Roland revived the 808 and other classic audio gear with its AIRA line in 2014 and last year a Boutique series of synths broke cover. Modern re-interpretations of iconic analog gear has been all the rage for gear makers for the last few years, so it will be interesting to see if Roland continues charting that course. It will also be interesting to see how the relationship with V-Moda affects design and what kinds of devices we'll encounter in the future since Roland already makes its own headphones and the two sides plan to continue as separate companies. One thing's for sure: There will be more headphones.