So they've brought out a pair of "celebrity" headphones. So what, it's just marketing and they do have to sell stuff. If you don't like those ones then you can get identical ones without the "celebrity" endorsement and you will find they are great. (See my review elsewhere on this forum.)
There are 3 types of markets in the headphones sector:
1) Where style is more important than substance.
- Targeted at the majority of customers who are perfectly happy with 128 & 256 kbps mp3 songs.
- Style & celebrity endorsements are more important.
- Premium charged is based on the celebrity endorsing, or style.
- Aimed at buyers who buy products off the shelf depending on their budget.
- Sound quality is decent, especially extra bass.
2) Where substance is more important
- Aimed at the so-called "audiophiles" who form the minority of the market.
- Needs to be well reviewed, as the buyers generally research extensively online before committing to a purchase.
- The buyers are generally prepared to pay a premium for better audio quality.
- Doesn't have to be stylish.
3) Keen price
- Aimed at the "Amazon buyers" who look at the price & Amazon reviews to decide which headphones to buy.
- They should be cheap and cheerful.
- Style is an added bonus.
- Expert reviews are generally not that important, but buyers will feel smug if they happen to find a positive expert review.
If a manufacturer sticks to market 1) or 3), it will be successful but won't gain the respect of the "audiophile community". If it sticks to market 2), it is more likely to be affected by economic downturn unless complemented by products aimed at market 1) or 3) or both.
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2) Where substance is more important . . .
If it sticks to market 2), it is more likely to be affected by economic downturn unless complemented by products aimed at market 1) or 3) or both.
While I agree with your post generally, I'm really not sure about the part quoted above. Successful businesses in difficult economic times tend to be those with a high quality product and frequently with a premium price tag where the target market is fairly affluent and maintains a decent disposable income. As you said yourself:
- The buyers are generally prepared to pay a premium for better audio quality
I would expect high quality products aimed at a discerning market ought to have fairly consistent (albeit small, compared to markets 1 & 3) sales whatever the economic climate.
I suppose the real point is that there aren't any large headphone manufacturers who do aim solely at Market 2, they've aimed at at least 2 of them for some time now. It's only fairly esoteric hifi companies who are Market 2 only; I suspect they've carried on regardless whatever the economic climate.
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I'm interested to know how much involvement the celebrity has in the development of the product.
With, for example, Quincy Jones K701 - did he spend weeks/months with the design team to get the look, sound and feel of the headphones, which (incidentally) look an awful lot like the standard K701s (but more expensive) and share the same tech specs.
How do the Quincy Jones ones differ (other than colour).
I have some home cinema and Sonos stuff.
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For the record all, I am a partner in a media relations and marketing firm. We primarily handle consumer technology brands and I work with Sound Technology, exclusive distributor of AKG in the UK. Previous to this role, I worked at... What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision, where I was, latterly, Tests Editor.
So you can bill AKG for every post you make here? Good skills !!
(I'd say an hour per reflection/response would be the going rate?)
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EDIT : I think it was on their Facebook page upon the launch of the Quincy range.
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Celebrity endorsement/design cooperation is certainly not a new thing, and especially not in the world of music gear - think amps, guitars, etc. - and I think that the right artist can offer a lot when working closely with teh correct manufacturer. But the key phrase here is 'working closely with', so not just agreeing to his/her famous name being used.
so this was a naming-check rather than a "working closely". Which "is exactly what you'd expect from one of the most gifted, successful and admired music icons the world has ever heard".
Out of interest, does Mr Jones get the entire £50 price uplift in the Q701s, or does some of that go to the price of the (ahem) vibrant lime green plastic.
It's great to see that people remain as passionate as ever about music equipment! I'm not sure I can perfectly respond to all points/queries, other than to say, I am personally feel Quincy Jones knows what he's doing when it comes to identifiyling an effective set of pro headphones.
Also, here is a quote from AKG's original Quincy Jones line press announcement, 'A share of the proceeds from every set of Quincy Jones Signature Line by AKG headphones sold will go toward the Quincy Jones Musiq Consortium, a foundation dedicated to making music education an ongoing part of the lives of American children.'
Over (ears) and out.
Partner, Andy Giles Associates (consumer technology media relations and marketing agency)
I was specifically speaking with AKG in mind.
I think it really depends on what ambitions you have with the market. Take TVs for example, B&O and Loewe survived while Kuro ceased to exist. All of them concentrate(d) on a small sector of TV business. While Pioneer had smaller models for the mass market, it never really concentrated on them.
Of course, there won't be large manufacturers solely concentrating only on 2), as the segment itself is small!
Companies like AKG clearly are more ambitious than that. If it concentrated only on market 2, I doubt if this latest line of headphones endorsed by a DJ would have ever come.
Agree with all that, and Pioneer v B&O / Loewe is a good example. Pioneer tried to fudge market 2 with 1 & 3, ie premium quality product but (close to) mass market price. Whereas the others have niche quality and price product.
Yes, I'm sure that's right. Fwiw I agree with AlmaataKZ's point - I wouldn't expect anyone to have a problem with an endorsed product if its quality & price were at least as good as if it was not endorsed. But further than that, if the additional markets and income opened up by selling products with endoresements and more mass market appeal allow the company to continue producing high quality but more niche products I would be very happy. Bringing it back to the example of Pioneer, I think there would be a lot of happy people if they'd had a successful and profitable mass market business which had allowed them to continue manufacturing their premium Kuro plasmas.
AKG Pro's product line-up includes a huge selection of headphones, and with the arrival of 'AKG by TIESTO' that offering becomes even greater. Check not only the visual design, but also the spec, and you'll hopefully agree that the new 'phones compliment the existing range. (And are certainly not a repackaged, existing design.)
But, most of all, can I suggest you personally check out the new line as and when it hits the shops - and until then keep an open mind. And, if for whatever reason they aren't to your taste, follow this link for seriously large selection of alternatives: http://www.akg.com/site/powerslave,id,2,nodeid,2,pcategory,33,_language,EN.html
I really do feel that your rumermoungering of AKG's death has been greatly exaggerated!
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Idc, I am with you on not liking when products where the main appeal is celebrity endorsement are made instead of products where competent design, pefromance and build quality are a priority. When they are in addition to, though, I do not mind - if there is a market for it, somebody will make it. Recently for example I was asked to help choosing headphones (for a late teenager) and when I started to talk about sound quality I got a disappointed reaction as the models I recommended were not perceived as 'cool' - they were hoping I would endorse their choice of 'Beats'.
Anyhow, I meant to ask for your advice since long ago -
I have been checking out the main brands for a god pair of headphones but could not find what I am after:
- very high built quality and durability - must last 20 years+ (I like things that last and tend to hang on to things...)
- very accurate, undistorted, neutral sound, high dynamic range (open-back?). I liked the sound of the top Sennh for example.
- not too heavy and very comfortable (I think I prefer around the ear fit)
- real leather pads
- which makes it mid-to-high-range models I suppose. No particular budget set - can be any price range but do not have to be expensive.
Leather pads seem to be particularly rare but I do not like the vynil ones at all. Velour are slightly better but I want to find leather ones. From your experience and knowledge, do you know any that fit these requirements?
I see what you mean about the leather pads. I don't have any and have never even tried any with such. Sorry, but you have flumoxed me!
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I remember Sony did one or two top-rangers with leather but this was very very long ago. There are definately some now e.g. B&w with leather and others but they tend to be 'lifestyle' products while I am after a long-lasting uncompromised full-size ones.
The only one I can think of is Denon top model I think (it also has wooden cups?). Edit: I do not see this model on their site any more. Maybe it has been discontinued.
Maybe pro models?
- real leather pads -- which makes it mid-to-high-range models I suppose. No particular budget set - can be any price range but do not have to be expensive. Leather pads seem to be particularly rare but I do not like the vynil ones at all. Velour are slightly better but I want to find leather ones. From your experience and knowledge, do you know any that fit these requirements?
The Philips L1 gets pretty close to this description except for the bass I think. If you could use a high quality equalizer and just trim off the bass a little the sound is quite neutral, and the physicals are there.
Or, if the new Philips X1 extends everything the L1 does, it might be an even better bet.
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