At a major press event in New Jersey Tuesday, Denon announced a new company name, a new logo, newly restructured operations…and an imperative to create new products and expand into new markets. Technically, Denon has been in the headphone business for a while. But as part of a new more aggressive marketing strategy – the company has launched an all-new line of headphones designed for specific and tightly defined consumer segments. But wait…as infomercials and headphone product manager Petro Shimonishi liked to say…there’s more.
Addressing a large group of technology industry reporters, Shimonishi said that the company has a long history of high technology headphones. This time around, Denon had done even more homework, surveying thousands of consumers and developing tightly defined and targeted groups of consumers.
What others do…
Most brands, Shimonishi taught reporters, go to China and buy off-the-shelf products and stamp their logos on it. Not Denon! This new line of headphones – Denon releases call it a line extension – features no less than 18 patent-pending designs and technologies.
Denon engineers went back to the drawing board and working in conjunction with Denon marketers, designed all new features and technologies to ensure the product better meets the needs of each of the targeted consumer groups.
4,000 pairs of ears…
Based on extensive research – Shimonishi said the company has studied no fewer than 4,000 pairs of ears – Denon has identified four key consumer lifestyle groups that they have targeted for their headphone designs: Music Maniac, Urban Raver, Globe Cruiser, Exercise Freak. Some might say that these are the obvious targets, but Denon has wisely chosen to not only market to these groups…but to create specific products engineered to meet the unique needs of each of them.
Not only that, but the company has rounded out the products designed for each group by also making available Denon iOS and Android Apps – such that they can expand their enjoyment of the headphones. Given the popularity of smartphones among the music-listening youth market…this makes a lot of sense.
Interesting technologies and designs include:
- Five-sided or pentagonal earpad design… According to Denon, this style fits the ear better than a circular design as used by most companies on their on-ear or over-ear products. I actually tried one out myself and found it quite comfortable. Although it is difficult to say if this was the result of the shape or the generous amount of padding being used.
- Double air-compression driver to boost the bass for the Urban Raver in-ear headphone design. I didn’t try it, but to me it looked large, clunky, and heavy. Shimonishi said it was well balanced, and until I can try one – I’ll have to take her word for it.
- Denon patent-pending control iOS compatible control wheel which allows you to control play/pause, volume up/down, and talk/disconnect in an intuitive manner for anyone used to Apple iPhones (only millions of people.)
There are other interesting Denon headphone technologies…these are just my short-list of favorites. While the designs are not aggressively designed to look like art – as some competitive products are – I have to admit, they are attractive designs that have a form-fits-function utility to them that is appealing.
So here, in a nutshell, is the new Denon headphone lineup:
GLOBE CRUISER – A frequent traveler or commuter.
For the frequent traveler, Denon has basically two versions with one offered in two colors for a total of three models.
- AH-NCW500 BK (Black) or SR (Sliver) (Available Sept. 2012, MSRP $499) Features include: Wireless noise cancelling technology; Uses Bluetooth 3.0 for wireless connectivity with CD quality audio; Integrated amplifier; Rechargeable battery rated to provide 10 hours of use; Black leather design; Pentagonal earcup design; Dual integrated microphones for phone use; AAC & aptX decoding for higher quality music; Denon control wheel; Carrying case; Audio cable; USB charging cable; Airline adapter.
- AH-W200 (Available August 2012, MSRP $179). Features include: Wireless noise isolating technology; Bluetooth 3.0 for wireless connectivity with CD quality; Integrated amplifier; Rechargeable battery for up to 5 hours of listening; Integrated microphone; Flexible neckband; Travel case; USB charging cable; Audio cable; Airline adapter; Extra ear tips.
MUSIC MANIAC – A person characterized by an inordinate or ungovernable enthusiasm for music
While some of the Denon headphone series incorporate a bass boost which is viewed positively by some of the profiles, in the case of the Music Maniac the design starts with a flat EQ, acoustically transparent sound.
- AH-D7100 (Available August 2012, MSRP is expected to be around $1200). This model, called the Artison, features: An attractive glass fiber reinforced construction with mahogany wood enhancement; Free edge nano fiber driver; Detachable cables – one for home listening, one for on-the-road listening (cables included); African mahogany wood surround earcups; Pentagonal earpads; Artisan display stand included; Carrying case; 10-ft cable and 3-foot cable; Gold-plated adapter.
- AH-D600 (Available August 2012, MSRP: $499) Basically baby brother to the 7100, features: Free edge Nano Fiber driver; Flat EQ curve; Detachable cable (cables included); Pentagonal earpads; Carrying case; 10-foot cable and 3-foot cable included.
- AH-C400 (Available July/August 2012, MSRP $349) An in-ear model that features: Dual balanced armature drivers; Flat EQ; Zinc die-cast housing; Cable with integrated remote and microphone; Carrying case; Extra eartips; Gold-plated adapter.
URBAN RAVER – A person that is extremely enthusiastic about new types of music, including but not limited to trance, techno, house, Drum and Bass, hip hop, ambient.
Denon openly admits that the Urban Raver models have boosted bass. Believe me, I tried one and it was heavily boosted…heavily, heavily boosted!
- AH-D400 (Available July/August 2012, MSRP: $399). Features: Built-in LED illumination (take your own personal disco around with you, but you can turn it off also); Integrated battery-powered amplifier, battery lasts up to 12 hours; Denon control wheel; Pentagonal shape ear pads; Carrying case; Audio cable; Micro-USB cable; Gold-plated adapter.
- AH-C300 (Available August 2012, MSRP: $249). In-ear model features: Double air compression drivers for enhanced bass; Denon mini-control wheel; Ear stabilizers and a selection of ear tips included; Carrying case; Extra ear tips; Gold-plated adapter.
EXERCISE FREAK – A person that is passionate about sports and fitness.
Denon says that the Exercise Freak models have a slightly boosted bass to help the music motivate the user.
- AH-W150 BU (Blue) or BL (Black) or YW (Yellow) (Available August 2012, MSRP: $150). In-ear sports style headphones. Features: Lightweight, sweat proof design; Wireless with Bluetooth 3.0 wireless connectivity; Rechargeable battery that lasts 7 hours; Integrated amplifier; Flexible neckband; Anti-microbial ear tips; Integrated controls and microphone; Silicone cushioning to protect user from discomfort when activating buttons; Mesh carrying case; Extra ear tips included; Micro-USB cable.