Bang & Olufsen (B&O), long known for its luxury consumer audio products, yesterday unveiled the company's first over-the-ear headphones that, while pricey, are at least within the grasp of the average consumer who is willing to pay more for higher-end style and audio quality.
The Danish company announced two sets of headphones: the BeoPlay H3 in-ear headphones ($250) and the BeoPlay H6 over-ear headphones ($400). Both models have passive noise-reduction qualities (i.e. insulation).
So what's the big deal? Well, for one, when B&O puts out a new product, it's because it doesn't expect to put out another model for years - perhaps even decades. For example, B&O's last headphones, the on-ear Form 2s, were released 25 years ago. The Form 2 model is still sold today, and only recently did it get a color scheme update from just black to models in white, yellow, red and orange. That's the only change that was made.
At a press event at a Boston B&O store yesterday, the company demonstrated its latest headphone audio technology, saying it's aimed at "young, urban tech types -- maybe the guy in the software business," said Oliver Pennington, a co-owner of the B&O retail outlet on Boston's tony Newbury Street.
Pennington compared the H6 headphones, at least in price, to Beats by Dr. Dre. "Of course, we're targeting a different market than Dr. Dre Beats," he said.
Indeed. Beats headphones come in prices ranging from $280 to $400; only the studio-version of the Beats headphones are at the top end of that price range.
Looking to go more mainstream
B&O is working to gain name recognition in the U.S. and has been selling more of its audio products "down market," Pennington said. For example, once only available in the highest end cars, B&O speakers can today be found in smaller luxury models such as the Audi A3, where they were once only available in the A6, Pennington said.
The BeoPlay H3 ear buds are due out in July and the BeoPlay H6 over-the-ear headphones are expected out in August.
While B&O's new H6 headphones may be aimed toward the higher-end buyer, they're not out of reach of the more mainstream music aficionado who appreciates the finer things.
The H6s come with 40mm drivers and an acoustical range of 20Hz to 22kHz and can be daisy-chained to other headphones with built-in jacks on each side of the ear cups.