Apple to launch branded over-ear headphones as soon as this year

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 25
Capitalizing on early success with AirPods, Apple is readying a branded over-the-ear headphone product that could launch as soon as this year, according to KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.




In a note to investors seen by AppleInsider, Kuo predicts Apple to debut a branded high-end, over-ear headphone with an "all new" design to add to its growing audio accessory lineup. A specific launch timeline was not provided, but Kuo believes the device is unlikely to debut prior to the fourth quarter of 2018.

Though not specified in the note, the headphones will likely feature wireless connectivity. Kuo says Apple is aiming to deliver a product that boasts the convenience of AirPods but with better acoustic qualities.

Similar to Apple's Beats brand, the over-ear model is expected to be more expensive than the in-ear AirPods. According to Kuo, the company is looking to pack in high quality audio components that will boost performance, but those parts come at a price.

What Kuo means by an "all new" design is unclear, as over-ear headphones typically fall into one of two categories: open or closed back. Aside from materials and minor aesthetic variables, most headphones of this type share basic commonalities, usually incorporating two ear cups connected by a band or strap that arches over a user's head.

Current Apple supplier SZS, a metal injection molding specialist, is tipped to be part of the project, potentially pointing to the integration of metal enclosures. It should be noted, however, that MIM technology can be applied to a number of internal components normally used in the construction of such devices.

Also unknown is what audio hardware Apple intends to deploy with the new headset. The company has a history of pioneering new technologies with its recent audio equipment releases. AirPods, for example, incorporate the W1 chip to assist with pairing. HomePod is even more advanced with a beefy A8 SoC supporting adaptive acoustics involving beam forming microphones and tweeter arrays.

Along with the over-ear headphones, Kuo predicts Apple will introduce an updated version of AirPods in the second half of 2018.

Apple is expected to keep the overall AirPods design unchanged, and will instead focus on internal component upgrades to the W1 chip and an inductive charging case. To account for wireless charging capabilities, like higher thermal requirements and a tweaked external appearance, Apple will use different manufacturing methods, Kuo says.

Apple announced a wireless charging case for current-generation AirPods at last year's iPhone event, but the accessory has yet to debut. Recent rumors suggest Apple is planning a launch next month alongside the AirPower charging mat.

Kuo's prediction is in line with a Bloomberg report last week that said Apple is currently working on a next-gen AirPods model that features built-in "Hey Siri" functionality.

Finally, Kuo believes Apple is enlisting a new supplier to account for massive growth in AirPods production. Specifically, AirPods component orders are expected to grow 100 to 200 percent in fiscal 2018, while shipments of assembled devices will jump 60 to 80 percent over the same period. Kuo is targeting AirPods shipments at 24 to 26 million units for 2018.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 70
    LOL headlines will surely make Apple great again while the Macs stay the same for a decade.
    Apple has released ore headphones than macs in the last year!
    Fire everyone in the executive suite and bring back Guy K.
    Time to make Apple great again.
    williamlondonlkrupp
  • Reply 3 of 70
    SoliSoli Posts: 7,023member
    I'd love for some tiny, bone-conducting headphone that are supported over and behind the ear.
    brian greeniqatedogoodbyeranch
  • Reply 4 of 70
    Good luck equaling Bose's QuietComfort 35.
    williamlondonlkrupp
  • Reply 5 of 70
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 1,708member
    LOL headlines will surely make Apple great again while the Macs stay the same for a decade.
    Apple has released ore headphones than macs in the last year!
    Fire everyone in the executive suite and bring back Guy K.
    Time to make Apple great again.

    Seriously?

    Umm, Apple didn’t release ANY new headphones last year; AirPods were released in 2016. However, they did release updated iMacs, and Mac Book Pros, plus the brand new iMac Pro. Plus, an updated 12” iPad and an all new 10” iPad. Plus the new AppleWatch w/mobile connectivity, plus the AppleTV 4K, plus the updated iPhones, and the brand new iPhone X, (and the better-late-than-never HomePod). The only things that weren’t updated were the iPod, Mac Pro, and Mac mini. (We’ll see the new Mac Pro at WWDC, then released by the end of year. Mac mini? Who knows? Maybe this Spring’s media event?)

    Or are you being stuperficial and talking about industrial design?
    GeorgeBMacmwhitemacxpressrandominternetpersonwilliamlondonwatto_cobrapropodspliff monkeyfastasleep
  • Reply 6 of 70
    Kuo says Apple is aiming to deliver a product that boasts the convenience of AirPods but with better acoustic qualities.

    Considering the above is referencing big ass over the ear headphones, the quote is idiotic.
    GeorgeBMackikkodwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 70
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 1,708member

    bluefire1 said:
    Good luck equaling Bose's QuietComfort 35.

    I wouldn’t exactly count Apple out, they’re last two audio products brought new technologies that made them best of class.

    Since these are much bigger, I‘d like to see a mix of HomePod and AppleWatch functionality/technology come together. HomePod’s Siri musicologist (Apple Music), plus more wireless options; Bluetooth, WiFi, and possibly even an LTE model. GPS for tracking runs/distance.

    Plus all the other audio stuff you’d expect from a higher end set of cans; much better sound reproduction, noise cancellation, etc.
    brian greenmmatzracerhomie3randominternetpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 70
    SoliSoli Posts: 7,023member
    Kuo says Apple is aiming to deliver a product that boasts the convenience of AirPods but with better acoustic qualities.

    Considering the above is referencing big ass over the ear headphones, the quote is idiotic.
    I wouldn't go that far. Convenience comes in many forms, like the W1 chip for pairing and switching sources. Then if it's wireless with inductive charging with a battery that exceeds AirPods between placing them back in their case for charging or especially if they exceed the total time of the charging case time (which is very doubtful) plus higher quality audio and better comfort that would be more convenient. I'd love to have AirPods but the discomfort from that type of earbud is inconvenient to my usability.
    brian greeneideard
  • Reply 9 of 70
    I have a few pair of Beats and while I like over-ear headphones, the best thing about the AirPods is how small they are and how easy they are to have in your pockets.
    kuduwatto_cobraairnerd
  • Reply 10 of 70
    Two words: liquid metal...
    ddawson100watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 70
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 3,504member
    What we know:

    They will be gorgeous. 

    They will sound terrific. 

    There will be a cool Jony Ive video. 

    They will cost an arm and a leg. 

    They will miss the Christmas buying period. 

    Audiophiles will claim their $800 Clymedia KnockingFlange XRW646774366SD headsets sound much better. 

    Folk will post lots of bizarre “what if” disaster scenarios: What if I’m walking along and someone shouts “Hey you”. When I look round, someone hits me in the face with a frozen kipper and runs off with my iMuffs. 

    A month after they’re released, Samsung will drop viral marketing shots of an almost identical product, except they will hint that the sound will be ten times better and they will be the first headphones featuring a unique “over the groin” design. 


    edited February 25 tmaybrian greenmmatzmike1fruitstandninjadacharracerhomie3eideardNotsofastSoli
  • Reply 12 of 70
    chasmchasm Posts: 563member
    bluefire1 said:
    Good luck equaling Bose's QuietComfort 35.


    Those cans are lovely and boast wonderful noise cancellation, but reference headphones they ain't.

    I would suggest that the report, if true, emphasizes "acoustic qualities," i.e. high-quality sound without the added bass of its Beats line. If so, that would certainly explain the price -- reference-quality headphones can cost way more than a set of Beats; prices can get quite silly in some cases, though if you shop carefully they can be reasonably affordable.
    edited February 25 mike1Notsofastwilliamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 70
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 2,297moderator
    Soli said:
    Kuo says Apple is aiming to deliver a product that boasts the convenience of AirPods but with better acoustic qualities.

    Considering the above is referencing big ass over the ear headphones, the quote is idiotic.
    I wouldn't go that far. Convenience comes in many forms, like the W1 chip for pairing and switching sources. Then if it's wireless with inductive charging with a battery that exceeds AirPods between placing them back in their case for charging or especially if they exceed the total time of the charging case time (which is very doubtful) plus higher quality audio and better comfort that would be more convenient. I'd love to have AirPods but the discomfort from that type of earbud is inconvenient to my usability.
    I’m with you.  My tragus (that part of the ear in front of the ear canal) is stiff and offers a straight inner wall to Apple’s earbud designs (mirrored in the AirPods).  So I can insert Apple’s earbuds or AirPods straight into my ear, but cannot turn them forward to get them to lock as they are designed to be worn.  I’ve never been able to keep earbuds in my ears for more than one slight head turn. Out they pop.

    Most people have a soft tragus that folds back, offering a little catch in which the earbuds/AirPods nicely seat.  I wonder how many of us have my issue. I bet it’s less than the 10% of us lefties, and totally unrelated.  For reference, I also have inherited tight skin, such that the third knuckle on each finger doesn’t bend as I close my fist.  I can manually bend those knuckles, but the skin over them is so tight as to be smooth (zero wrinkles) and so prevents them from being pulled in by the opposing muscles as I close my fist.  This genetic aberration, I think, is a cousin of webbing, but I and my relatives exhibit none of that.  But I do have tight skin and tendons and so I imagine this is what causes my ear to have the shape it does.  
    edited February 25 mmatzracerhomie3tryd
  • Reply 14 of 70
    I’ve owned a set of Bose wired noise-cancelling headphones for probably 10 years, and like them.  I bought them for use while traveling on airlines, a niche they fill pretty well.  My first set went bad out of warranty and Bose offered a decent price for replacement/upgrade, so I went to the next generation.  The ear pads on my second set eventually wore out, and I found a decent replacement pair for cheap. I added a microphone cord, and now use them as often for phone calls as for listening to music. But, as Chasm points out, the sound quality doesn’t match the noise-cancellation quality.

    If Apple came up with wireless, over the ear, noise-cancelling headphones that I could use for phone calls, and with the quality of sound I’d expect from Apple, then I’d likely buy a set.  

    mike1williamlondonwatto_cobraairnerd
  • Reply 15 of 70
    Why is Apple developing an audio accessories line separate from Beats?
    macxpresskudumavemufc
  • Reply 16 of 70
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,155member
    What we know:

    They will be gorgeous. 

    They will sound terrific. 

    There will be a cool Jony Ive video. 

    They will cost an arm and a leg. 

    They will miss the Christmas buying period. 

    Audiophiles will claim their $800 Clymedia KnockingFlange XRW646774366SD headsets sound much better. 
    You forgot... Tech journalists will claim $50 Amazon cardboard headsets are far better because they answer trivia questions.
    edited February 25 Rayz2016racerhomie3SpamSandwichwilliamlondonlkruppwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 70
    tmaytmay Posts: 2,558member
    Why is Apple developing an audio accessories line separate from Beats?

    Because Apple has a team of world class Audio Engineers who want more to do after the HomePod, and AirPods.
    LukeCagewatto_cobrapatchythepirate
  • Reply 19 of 70
    LOL headlines will surely make Apple great again while the Macs stay the same for a decade.
    Apple has released ore headphones than macs in the last year!
    Fire everyone in the executive suite and bring back Guy K.
    Time to make Apple great again.
    Shut up.
    People do not buy Macs.
    They buy iPads & iPhones.
  • Reply 20 of 70
    Soli said:
    Kuo says Apple is aiming to deliver a product that boasts the convenience of AirPods but with better acoustic qualities.

    Considering the above is referencing big ass over the ear headphones, the quote is idiotic.
    I wouldn't go that far. Convenience comes in many forms, like the W1 chip for pairing and switching sources. Then if it's wireless with inductive charging with a battery that exceeds AirPods between placing them back in their case for charging or especially if they exceed the total time of the charging case time (which is very doubtful) plus higher quality audio and better comfort that would be more convenient. I'd love to have AirPods but the discomfort from that type of earbud is inconvenient to my usability.
    Solo 3 already does 40 hrs.
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