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ANALYSIS: HEADPHONES Home Entertainment


Not only this, but the new Integrated Processor


V1 takes noise cancelling performance even further with its acclaimed QN1e chip. The WF- 1000XM4 has two noise sensing microphones per ear to catch more of the ambient sounds of the user’s surroundings, whether it’s in-flight noise, city traffic or office chatter. “With intuitive touch and voice controls, the


WF-1000XM4 provides users with more ways to listen to the things they love most, free from distractions,” comments Lucy Gaby, Sony UK and Ireland’s Video and Sound Product Communications Manager. “We expect that consumers will continue to favour headphones which provide a truly immersive experience.”


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No noise But on the topic of noise cancellation, Sony also has the award-winning WH-1000XM4 over-the- head headphones, which are now also available in a limited edition Silent White colour – “developed to embody the concept of silence and serenity”, the company said. Continues Ms Gaby: “Both the TW and


headband models are also compatible with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, so consumers can enjoy entertainment, connect with friends, listen to music and get notifications all by just asking the voice assistant.” Over at market competitor LG, developments in


its TONE Free earbuds range see the addition of the LG HBS-FN7 earbuds with ANC, which benefit from the company’s partnership with Meridian Audio technology to deliver superior sound through Digital Signal Processing technology.


“The TONE Free range also features the LG


TONE Free app,” explains James Thomas, Product Manager of Home Entertainment at LG Electronics, “which allows control of Meridian’s EQ sound settings for an elevated and tailored listening experience. The FN7 model offers 21 hours of battery life and an incredibly comfortable in-ear fit.” Mr Thomas goes on: “One of the USPs of the


FN7 is that it features LG’s UVnano charging case that uses ultraviolet light to help keep the user’s ears healthier by eliminating 99.9 per cent of E. coli and S. aureus bacteria on the earbuds’ inner mesh while they are charging. “In the current climate hygiene is important,


which is why LG’s UVnano technology is so appealing. You can even monitor the UVnano status with the LED light on the front of the case.” In addition, LG also recently launched the


limited-edition LG FA4 earbuds – which also benefit from Meridian Audio technology – to celebrate LG’s partnership with the FA and England football team this summer. Mr Thomas also excitedly informs us that new


earbud models are on the way with a new feature called ‘Plug & Wireless’ to enable users to enjoy using their earbuds with non-Bluetooth devices. Launching two new sets of its own TW in-ear


headphones back in May – that also offer voice assistant support via Apple’s Siri or Google Assistant, plus its own companion app, is Bowers & Wilkins. The flagship model – PI7 with ANC – supports


Qualcomm aptX Adaptive wireless transmission from compatible mobile devices, allowing for high-resolution music transmission from suitable streaming services, such as Qobuz. Each earbud features a 9.2mm bespoke Bowers & Wilkins drive unit, actively driven by their own amplifier, to ensure deep, accurate bass. The result, the company says, is one of very few TW headphones supporting high-res audio all the way from music source to ear. There’s also the new TW PI5 from B&W, which


supports CD-quality playback thanks to the inclusion of high-quality aptX wireless transmission of music from an aptX-compatible mobile device.


A dip in the market? There seems to be no stopping the advancements in personal audio, however when we return to workplaces, start going on holidays and generally travel about more, will the market settle? Mr Garrett says: “With the increase in sales


during the pandemic, the market is likely to take a dip at some point as there are only so many pairs of headphones a consumer or music hobbyist is likely to have.” Brand differentiation will change the


headphone category as we reach a market saturation point, it seems, and stand-out brands are likely to take larger slices of the pie rather than simply those that get the best reviews.


Ausounds AU-Frequency ANC earbuds


July/August 2021 ertonline.co.uk


beyerdynamic T5 third gen headphones. Above: Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds


Mr Attfield adds: “Ausounds is engaging with


retailers across the UK that are looking for a real alternative headphone product that sits between high-end audiophile brands and the fashion brands at the lower end of the price spectrum. As great sound performance and all-day comfort is something of a given in the headphone market, retailers need something different – and that’s where we come in. “These products need to be shown and


demonstrated, and retail can certainly make the category come to life.” Having said that, the reality is the inexorable


rise of online, fuelled by lockdown from Spring 2020, with non-Internet turnover often accounting for less than 10 per cent of headphones and headsets turnover since then, reports GfK’s Mr Simon. “Will the future of headphones and headsets


retail be characterised by a 50/50 online/offline split?” he poses. “Answers on the back of a postcard to Mystic Meg…”


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