CanJam SoCal 2016 Shows Headphone Market is Booming
CanJam SoCal 2016 took place March 19-20, 2016 at the Westin South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, CA. The largest headphone and personal audio expo in North America was evidence the headphone market is booming. Produced by, CanJam SoCal 2016 showcased more than 60 exhibitors in 12,000 sq. ft. of event space, featuring new product introductions and increased attendance.

B&C Speakers Adds 21", 10" Midbass, HF Drivers and More for Prolight+Sound 2016
New for Prolight+Sound 2016 from the Florence, Italy, speaker specialist B&C Speakers, the new 21" 21DS115 subwoofer introduces a new four-layer, aluminum voice coil design with demodulating ring that the company says will offer significant improvements. There's also the new 10MBX64 10" low-frequency driver and the new DE990TN and the DE1090TN super-compact neodymium magnet compression drivers.  Read More

Is It Really High Resolution Audio? XiVero MusicScope Checks Your Audio Files
XiVero is a new German software company with a complete dedicated range of audio analysis and repair solutions for everyone - from audio enthusiasts to music professionals. The most interesting product is called MusicScope, and it is a complete and affordable audio analyzer, which measures everything anyone would want to measure to understand audio sources.  Read More

Munich High End 2016 Show Promises a Full House 
Expect the best. According to the High End Society, promoters of the High End show in Munich, this year's event is now fully booked with 505 exhibitors and more than 900 brands from May 5-8. Once again, the Bavarian capital will become a mecca for fans of audio innovation, and the most important showcase event for consumer audio anywhere in the world.  Read More

Beyma CP22 Compression Tweeter 40th Anniversary Limited Edition
To celebrate one of its most popular - and most copied - catalog drivers, Beyma has launched the CP22 Compression Tweeter 40th Anniversary edition. Still in high-demand after 40 years, the limited edition has an enhanced power handling of 30% compared to the standard version and only 3,000 numbered units are available in a carefully packaged limited edition.  Read More

Celemony Capstan 1.2 with Higher Resolution Audio Analysis
German audio analysis expert, Celemony, announced a new version of its Capstan software solution for the removal of wow and flutter in existing recordings. Capstan has received an update to Version 1.2 and now operates optionally in higher resolution, which as audio professionals know, the more the better during production and audio manipulation stages.  Read More

New and Vintage Celestion Guitar and Bass Speakers for 2016
Fresh from NAMM 2016 and now in Europe at the Prolight+Sound and Musikmesse 2016 shows in Frankfurt, Germany, Celestion highlights one of its most successful guitar speakers, the Vintage 30, now celebrating "three decades of decadence," while introducing the Neo Creamback guitar speaker and the new Pulse Bass speakers.  Read More

Fraunhofer Cingo Brings Surround Sound to Hulu's Virtual Reality Experience
Fraunhofer IIS and Hulu announced an agreement for the use of Fraunhofer Cingo immersive audio headphone rendering solution for virtual reality (VR) and mobile devices. Users of Hulu's VR app will benefit from movies and TV shows streamed using the HE-AAC surround sound audio codec and rendered for headphones through Fraunhofer Cingo. Hulu's VR app already features more than 25 pieces of exclusive VR content exclusive original VR content will be added in the future.  Read More


Editor's Desk

Will the Headphone Market Continue to Grow?

The original Beats by Dr. Dre headphones. As we wrote: An Apple, an Adam, and a Snake story...
"The most convincing and compelling advertisement for good audio is extremely well-reproduced sound. Music is a powerful and potent attraction to all humans," wrote the late Edward T. Dell, Jr., in his December 2001 audioXpress editorial. When he wrote those words, Ed Dell had in mind "good audio" systems for the home or "consumer goods which ordinary mortals could afford," offering "better than an average-quality reproduction." I believe that definition now corresponds to headphones.
In the aftermath of another edition of CanJam SoCal 2016, in Costa Mesa, CA, a successful show completely devoted to headphones, headphone amplifiers and accessories - and one of many such shows promoted by around the world - I have been looking at the headphone market and how it will evolve in the next few years. After all, as these small shows - open to the public - reflect, headphones are now the way most people have the chance to enjoy "better than an average-quality reproduction."
Yes, I know... Shows like CanJam are the equivalent of high-end hi-fi shows, which appeal to a small niche of the global headphone market, promoting high-quality products with very high prices that the average consumer would not even dream of buying - and those who do, don't stop with the headphones, investing in preamps, DACs, custom molded earplugs, etc. But shows such as this one attract more than 60 different companies, and at the CES shows, there were approximately 200 different companies specializing in headphone and related products - from the very affordable to high-end and luxury fashion items.
Apple's white earbuds were in a big way responsible for the creation of an aftermarket directly related to iPods, iPhones, and all mobile devices henceforth. But in 2011, Beats by Dr. Dre "happened." In 2012, Beats' market share was 64% in the US for headphones priced higher than $100 (Source: NPD Group). On August 2014, Apple acquired Beats for $3 billion.
By 2014, Futuresource Consulting reported the headphone market had continued to expand by nearly 10% in volume. In 2013, it represented 286 million units shipped and revenues of $8.4 billion. In 2014, worldwide shipments grew by 8.5% to 309.5 million units - the value of the shipments grew by 12%, generating revenue worth $9.4 billion. In 2014, the growth resulted from increased adoption in commuting and fitness; in-ear headphones dominated global shipments, accounting for 61% of volumes; while wireless (Bluetooth) headphones became the fastest growing category. Wireless still grew more than 60% in 2015.
Futuresource also predicted a 6.2% growth for 2015, representing shipments of 328.7 million units. In their 2014 market report, Futuresource also stated that the global headphones market would peak at $11.3 billion in 2017. 
Lifestyle is selling more headphones. Master & Dynamic is a nice example, using the same strategy that sold Beats.
Important to note a few facts:
  Before Beats, products that cost less than $200 largely dominated the global headphone market. Beats proved it could actually sell $300 headphones in large volumes.
  Wireless headphone prices range from $80 to $300 and higher and they are responsible for increasing the market value.
  The "high-end" and luxury headphone market, with units that cost $500 to $3,000 is selling volumes previously considered impossible to reach.
Questions on my mind include how much of what the market analysts call "premium headphones" (anything costing $200 or more), is still held by Beats in 2016? Also, no one was able to correctly define the replacement cycles in the headphone market since the "mobile revolution" started. Will consumers remain faithful to lifestyle brands? What will be the consequences of increasing market fragmentation with hundreds of new brands reaching the headphone market?
One thing is certain; the market is ripe for a shake-up. We had fitness, smartphones, tablets, and even gaming pushing the market. Now, we have consumers getting familiarized with wireless and streaming services, with built-in sensors, enhanced noise cancellation, and even voice recognition (and voice notifications) becoming important features. The effects of longer lasting batteries and new wireless standards provide a more reliable experience and will no doubt be a major factor in the next few years. Even high-resolution audio will continue to push the market upward in value, if not in volume.
More importantly, we should not forget that the same reason why Beats sold - and still sells - remains valid, no matter how unpredictable the Fashion or Lifestyle hypes might be. Also, we should expect another important shake-up resulting from direct digital connection to mobiles devices (and high-end sources) via Lightning and USB-C connectors, replacing the 3.5 mm jack. It doesn't matter if users will realize the benefits or not - the discussion is akin to the high-resolution audio debate - the fact is, more headphone replacement will take place while the market transitions to the iPhone 7 (and yes, Apple is going to take the heat on that one for being first, which it wasn't).
The Harman Augmented Reality concept
with the JBL Everest 700 Elite wireless headphones - selling for $299.95 - is
a nice demonstration of what's coming.
Watch the video.
Looking at more recent market research and predictions, the latest report by Grand View Research now says "the global earphones and headphones market is expected to reach $17.55 billion by 2022." Not peaking in 2017, but rising with the "surge in consumer demand for technologically advanced products" and increasing adoption of smart devices. The same report also predicts global demand to reach 455 million units by 2022, which would mean that average prices would increase - a lot.
As I said, things look ripe for a shake-up. I wouldn't underestimate the impact Apple (and Beats) might still have on high-resolution audio, if that becomes a major focus for the next iPhone and Apple Music. According to the 2015 CEA study (US specific) on high-resolution audio, which we highlighted here, 40% of consumers say they are familiar with high-resolution audio, showing that the market is becoming aware of and learning more about the technology. Key findings from that report also disclosed that headphones are the most frequently purchased audio product (69% of consumer purchases), with portable speakers representing only 9%.

From the Vault
Choosing and Using Electronic Parts: A Survival Guide (Part 3)
By Charles Hansen
Here's the final section in our series on parts reliability, how to choose them and how to estimate their life expectancy. In the third part of this article, the author continues to examine electronic components, discussing transformers, inductors, vacuum tubes, electromechanical relays, switches, and connectors. The final section discusses, what we can do about reliability when we design electronic audio equipment, and the choices of stress derating and temperature, which affect reliability. This article series was published in audioXpress, from November 2001 to January 2002. Read the Full Article Available Here

Voice Coil Test-Bench
Bozhen CQ76 Ribbon Tweeter 
By Vance Dickason
This Test Bench article focused on a ribbon driver from Bozhen New Audio Lab. The CQ76 is a ribbon loudspeaker designed for household hi-fi systems as a mid-high unit, featuring a crossover frequency at 1,500 Hz and very low distortion under high power output. As Vance Dickason could attest, the CQ76 patented design, using a separated voice coil and diaphragm structure, is entirely different from the traditional aluminum ribbon speakers, showing better power handling, a smooth and even frequency response to 18 kHz and good typical directivity in the horizontal and vertical planes. This article was originally published in Voice Coil, April 2013.  Read The Full Article Online

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