Harman would like to sell you some $1,000 headphones

If you thought the AirPods Max were expensive, hold on to your butts.

Mark Levinson/Harman

Not so long ago, the internet was debating what the folks at Apple were thinking charging $549 for the AirPods Max. At CES 2022, luxury audio brand Mark Levinson would like a word. The Harman-owned company (which also owns AKG, JBL and Harman Kardon, and is itself a Samsung subsidiary) mostly known for its high-end home and car audio systems has announced its first wireless headphones: the No. 5909. While they offer everything you'd expect from a premium set, they have a nearly $1,000 price tag that only a select few might commit to.

The over-ear No. 5909 packs 40mm Beryllium drivers "expertly tuned to the Harman curve." The company explains that "the Harman curve" is acoustic response that it says has taken decades of research to construct. The result here is "incredible acoustic performance" in a set of "reference class" wireless headphones. Mark Levinson says that audio performance meets the guidelines for Hi-Res Audio certification thanks to 24-bit/96kHz signal processing and 40kHz acoustic response. The No. 5909 supports LDAC, AAC and aptX Adaptive wireless codecs via Bluetooth 5.1.

Mark Levinson promises you'll hear details you haven't before, like "the slightest breath an artist takes" or "a hidden harmony." The company explains that the same "world-class sound engineers" that built the luxury brand's amps, turntables and streaming players are behind the tuning of the ultra pricey No. 5909.

Mark Levinson No. 5909
Mark Levinson/Harman

Sound quality isn't the only consideration though. The No. 5909 has adaptive active noise cancellation (ANC) with three modes "for premium sound isolation" and an Ambient Aware feature that lets you tune into your surroundings as needed. The company also packed in four microphones for calls that are equipped with a so-called Smart Wind Adaption feature. The materials used to make the headphones are also better than the mostly plastic sets we typically see. The No. 5909 is built with an aluminum frame, painted metallic earcups, leather headband and replaceable leather ear cushions. An included hard shell travel case comes stocked with a USB-C charging cable, USB-C to USB-A adaptor, two USB-C to 3.5mm cables, 3.5mm to 6.3mm adaptor, airplane adaptor and a polishing cloth. Basically, it's everything you'd need to use the headphones on any setup — wired, wireless or while traveling.

Mark Levinson says you can expect up to 30 hours of use with adaptive ANC active and up to 34 hours with the feature disabled. A quick-charge feature will give you up to six hours of play time in 15 minutes. Via an app for Android and iOS, you'll get some control over the headphones, but the company didn't go into specifics there.

The No. 5909 will be available in black, pewter and red color options starting today for $999.

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