HEADPHONES AT CES 2021
Sound & Vision|April - May 2021
Once upon a time, CES was a huge show for audio but those days are long gone and showed no signs of returning in the virtual world that was CES 2021, with one possible exception: wireless headphones, a category that has made incredible strides in just the past year or so.
BOB ANKOSKO

A number of companies used the worldclass venue as a showcase for new headphones you can buy now and models you can expect to see online and in stores in the coming months. Prominent among the new entries were earbuds and full-size headphones with active noise canceling and features designed to improve wireless performance and the sound quality of music and phone calls. Wired models, as you might expect, were few and far between. Here’s a look at what a few of the more familiar brands are bringing to market.

V-Moda M-200 ANC

The new V-Moda M-200 ANC headphones ($500), the company’s first to offer active noise cancellation, support aptX HD-enabled Bluetooth 5.0 and come with a companion app that provides adjustable equalization (EQ) and 10 levels of noise cancellation. Listeners can create their own EQ curve or choose among six EQ settings— Rock, Pop, Podcast, Hip Hop, Jazz, and Off. Customization also extends to the look of the ’phones: The decorative earcup “shields” come in six colors and can be further personalized with laser engraving or color printing—they’re even removable so you can switch them out with a new color or design. Full-charge battery life is rated for up to 20 hours with noise cancellation activated and 10 minutes of charging provides 1.5 hours of playtime.

JBL Tour Series

JBL Showed up at CES 2021 to tout a gaggle of new headphones and earbuds, including the new wireless Tour series featuring the brand’s “most technologically advanced true wireless option.” The series launches in May with the Tour One over-ear model ($300) and Tour Pro+ earphones ($200), both wireless and equipped with adaptive noise cancellation, which monitors environmental sounds and applies noise cancellation in real time. Both can be controlled via JBL’s headphone app or by voice through Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant and have a smart audio mode with “high-fidelity music” and “low-latency video” settings. There’s also a SilentNow mode that activates noise cancellation without turning on Bluetooth and a “smart ambient” feature that makes it possible to have a conversation without removing the earbuds.

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