The future of headphones was displayed at CES this year. While the presentations went through smoothly without any hindrances, the situation is now a bit complicated in the headphone scenario.
The 3.5mm analog connector paired up with jacks, was considered by many as the best way to be the best way to receive audio data. There has now been a divergence of digital alternatives offering USB-C or Lightning, all dependent on one’s choice of a jack-less phone. Unbelievably, word on the tech scene is that Sony are currently working hard to promote a 4.4mm Pentaconn connector for the future wired generations, especially for audio lovers.
The latest introductions in the headphone scene were developed with the intention to make things much easier for users. However, since there are now quite a number of changes in the headphone scene, the environment is likely going to be chaotic.
The major impression anyone who attended CES 2018 got was that headphone companies have conspired to bid goodbye to the beloved 3.5mm audio plug. There are a number of new earphones, wireless buds and headphones constantly being released to the market. Most of the new headphones in the market now come with wireless functionalities.
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Recently, Audi-Technica dropped a slew of new models labeled as incredible microcosms of the much broader industry trend. Some of the products featured in the release included hi-fi earbuds with plastic collars, sporty earphones that have hooks around the ear, two over-ear models and one with built-in noise-canceling capabilities. Most notably, all of the devices came with wireless functionality in order to serve consumer demand.
Audio-Technica representatives at CES communicated with reporters letting them know that the reason they invested heavily in wireless headphones is that the demand for such products is quite staggering when one considers the value they have in the market. The representatives proceeded to share that the value had risen from about a quarter in 2016 to about 45% in 2017.
The rhetoric was equally shared by reps at 1More, Beyerdynamic, Mee Audio, plus a number of other companies. Of course, they all cited that the primary reason they were branching out to wireless tech because of improved convenience. At present, it remains unclear whether or not a headphone maker is convinced. Most of them cited that smartphones were the likely drivers of the change because of the evolution of technology.
A major turning point was when the iPhones shipped without a built-in 3.55mm jack. The trend then rapidly accelerated when a bunch of other companies took the same route. Given the prominence of the Apple brand in the technology world, that was the only logical conclusion to the narrative. One of the people echoing these sentiments is Alexander Van Der Heijen of Bowers and Wilkins. Despite the fact that Bluetooth audio has been known to sacrifice sound quality for convenience, the wireless route is still preferred.