Headphone growth to continue

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Shelves at Best Buy, Target, Walmart and other stores are packed with headphones. The increase in selection is a good thing for consumers, industry sources say, and less expensive options that perform on par with some premium products are on the way, says Sean Murphy, who is a senior manager of industry analysis at Consumer Electronics Association.

Sean Olive, who is the president of Audio Engineering Society and the director of acoustic research at Harman International, says the next generation of headphones will continue to develop and perfect “accurate, neutral sound,” which he says people prefer in headphones. Jamey Warren, who is the CEO of HeadRoom, which is an independent headphone-review website, agrees that “neutral” and “natural” sound will dominate the market. Murphy says he expects that the variety of headphones that specialize in certain areas, such as heavy bass or theater-style audio, also will continue to grow.

Olive expects “immersive 3-D headphones” to emerge in the coming years. He says 3-D headphones could approach the quality of surround-sound loudspeakers—simulating sounds all around and at various distances from the listener and changing as the listener turns his/her head.