Headphones are a dime a dozen, and distinguishing one pair from another can be tough when there are so many options out there.
But a few companies at IFA 2018 managed to catch our interest with their new and upcoming headphones. Here are some of the best headphones releases and announcements you might want to know about.
Audio Technica’s latest ATH-SR50BT is sleek, comfortable, and well worth consideration.
The most notable feature is Hear-Through, where you cover the left cup with one hand to instantly toggle active noise cancellation. The left cup is also touch sensitive, allowing you to adjust volume just by tapping it.
It lasts about 25 hours on a full charge, and has additional settings that can be managed through Audio Technica’s Connect mobile app.
Audio Technica is also releasing a cheaper ATH-SR30BT that’s also wireless Bluetooth and lasts up to 70 hours on a single charge, but without the Hear-Through feature or the active noise cancellation.
Both will be available some time in Fall 2018.
Bang & Olufsen
The newly released Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E6 wireless earphones (available on Amazon) is the result of all the feedback taken from the existing H5 earphones.
Bang & Olufsen is known for its quality, both in build and sound, and the E6 delivers on the lifestyle feel. They’re entirely portable, and when you aren’t listening, the two listening pieces stick together using magnets, allowing you to wear them like a necklace.
The E6’s battery lasts about 5 hours on a full charge, but also comes with a snap-on charging unit that clips on and lets you recharge the earphones while listening. Sadly, the snap-on charging unit itself needs to be connected to a power source so it may not be as practical as it first sounds.
While the Panasonic HTX80B over-ear wireless headphones (available on Amazon) have been out since earlier this year, they deserve a mention. Not only is the minimal retro style pleasing to the eye, but they’re incredibly comfortable to wear.
Unlike many over-ear headphones, the HTX80B’s cups are large enough that they don’t press on your ears, and the band is so light that you barely feel them on your head. On a full charge, the headphones last about 24 hours of active use.
But most importantly, the passive noise isolation works well. I could barely hear anything around me as I listened to music on a modest volume in the midst of an active venue.
While the build quality is great, the audio quality is par for the course, so it may be tough to justify the price. If style, comfort, and passive noise isolation are what you need and you’re willing to sacrifice a bit of sound for it, consider the HTX80B.
The Panasonic HD605N was the company’s main headphones showcase. It comes with three active noise cancelling modes, both wired and wireless connections, and a “cover to silence” gesture for when you want to talk to somebody.
Cover both cups with your hands to stop audio playback and pause active noise cancellation. Whether you’re studying for an exam or commuting on a train, you won’t have to remove the headphones if someone wants to ask you something.
And while it’s easy to switch between Low, Medium, and High noise-cancellation modes at the press of a button, I couldn’t quite tell the difference between them. They all worked just fine and created a pleasant listening environment.
Audio quality is great thanks to its 40mm HD driver and anti-vibration frame. With noise cancellation enabled, the HD605N lasts about 20 hours of active use—and every 15 minutes of charging provides 2 hours of audio playback.
The Panasonic HD605N is available on Amazon starting today.
Launching on September 17 for $180, the Skullcandy Venue expands Skullcandy’s line of premium headphones with active noise cancellation and built-in location tracking with Tile technology.
While noise cancellation is enabled, you can simply press the Monitor Mode button to pause and listen in on your surroundings. Pretty standard for modern noise cancellation headphones.
But the built-in Tile tracker caught our interest. All you need is the Tile mobile app to track down your headphones in case they’re ever lost or stolen—and it works even when the battery is dead.
Google Assistant integration is also worth noting: when the Venue is connected to your mobile phone via Bluetooth, you can double-press the designated button and interact with Google Assistant through the Venue’s own microphone and speakers.
The wireless Venue lasts up to 24 hours with active noise cancellation, and recharges at a rate of 5 hours of audio playback for every 10 minutes plugged in.
Pre-order now on the Skullcandy website.
Sudio is a Swedish brand of premium headphones that’s mainly taken off in Asia and Europe, but is now starting to push into the US—and what better way to try them out than with the newly launching Tio?
The Tio is designed as an entry-level taste of what Sudio offers: high-quality build and sound with a sleek and minimal aesthetic. It has removable bud covers and fins, with an inline volume control. It’s robust enough to be sporty, but chic enough to wear into work.
It will be available for purchase in middle September at a price of $49.
The Tolv is a yet unreleased set of wireless earphones that’s reminiscent of the Apple AirPods but slated to be more affordable.
As usual, the Tolv is built well and feels high-quality the moment you pick them up. But the selling point is the case, which acts as a kind of power bank for the earphones: the earphones recharge while in their case, and the case itself is portable.
It will be available for purchase in early December at a price of $119.
We’ll be updating this post with more products as we encounter them.