While CES 2022 has been greatly impacted by the latest COVID-19 outbreak, we're still seeing a number of companies roll out new products in a popular category: headphones. While there's nothing new from Sony or Sennheiser, plenty of companies announced new wireless headphones and earbuds, a few of which I've already gotten a chance to try.
Read more: The 5 big CES 2022 takeaways everyone's talking about
So without further ado, here are the most promising headphones announced at CES 2022. Release dates and pricing are provided where available, but are subject to change.
Last year, Jabra released three new true-wireless earbuds with varying levels of features, the Elite 3 ($80), Elite 7 Active ($180) and Elite 7 Pro ($200). Now it's added a fourth set of earbuds to the line, the Elite 4 Active, that carries a list price of $120 (£120, AU$179). Unveiled at CES 2022, the Elite 4 Active are billed as Jabra's most affordable workout model and "a relatable alternative for those who love an active lifestyle but are not looking for the intensity of its more aspirational sister in this range, the Jabra Elite 7 Active." The Elite 4 Active earbuds are available now in three color options -- blue, black and mint.
Read Jabra Elite Active 4 first take.
$120 at Jabra
The new Shure Aonic 40 noise-canceling headphones are a bit smaller and more affordable than the company's well-received Aonic 50 headphones ($299) that were released in 2020. My quick take: They sound quite good with clean, well-balanced sound that you can tweak in the Shure companion app for iOS and Android (you can choose from preset EQ settings as well as a customizable manual EQ setting).
The active noise canceling is solid but not quite up to the level of Sony's or Bose's and like the Aonic 50, they work well for making calls (Shure is known for its microphones) and you can connect them to your computer via USB-C. For those with aptX-enabled Android devices, the headphones support aptX HD Bluetooth streaming.
You don't get extra features like ear-detection sensors that automatically pause your music when you take the headphones off your head and resume playback when you put them back on. However, the headphones have a dual-hinge design so they both fold up and fold flat, allowing them to have a more compact case than the Aonic 50's (its case is pretty huge). In other words, these are more travel friendly. Battery life is rated at 25 hours with noise canceling on.
They're very good headphones -- sturdy, too -- but I didn't find them quite as comfortable as competing models from Bose and Sony. For some people, the top of the headband may put a little pressure on the crown of your head (the headband's padding is OK but could be better). I pushed the headband forward a bit on my head to get a more comfortable fit. They're also available in white.$249 at Amazon
The No. 5909 are high-end audio brand Mark Levinson's first headphones and yes, they're expensive. (Mark Levinson is owned by Harman, now a subsidiary of Samsung.) Unsurprisingly, they're really good headphones -- I liked them a lot -- but I didn't have to pay $999 for them. Read my full hands-on impressions of the No. 5909.$999 at Crutchfield
AfterShokz has changed its name to Shokz and has released new 9th-generation bone-conduction headphones that it says offer improved bass performance. They have a lightweight, wraparound titanium frame and are rated for up to 10 hours of music playback and you can get 1.5 hours of battery life from a 5-minute charge.$180 at Amazon
Panasonic has a new entry in the premium noise-canceling headphones arena, the Technics EAH-A800, and it looks pretty sweet. Highlights include up to 50 hours of battery life with noise canceling on, 8-microphone technology for noise-canceling and voice calls, multipoint Bluetooth pairing (so you can connect to two devices simultaneously) and support for Sony's LDAC audio codec for high-res streaming over Bluetooth with Android and Sony devices that LDAC-enabled.
The EAH-A800 is scheduled to ship in February in black or white color options for $350 (£299). We'll see how it stacks up to Sony's WH-1000XM4. Watch Panasonic's promo video.See at Panasonic
Belkin's upcoming Soundform Immerse Noise Canceling Earbuds are its new premium earphones that feature support for Apple's Find My feature. Equipped with large 12mm dual-layer dynamic drivers, they're IPX5 splashproof, are rated for up to eight hours of battery life at moderate volume levels and have a Hear-Thru transparency mode that lets ambient sound in. They come in black or white and are scheduled to ship sometime in the second quarter of this year.$180 at Belkin
These are essentially JBL AirPods Pro 2 competitors. According to their specs, they have good battery life (10 hours) and have six microphones that should allow for good voice calling performance.
Live Pro 2 features
The JBL Live Free 2 also have active noise canceling but feature a more traditional bud design. They also use 6-microphone technology for voice calling. Battery life is rated at seven hours at moderate volume levels.
Live Free 2 features
The Reflect Aero is the latest addition to JBL fitness-oriented line of earbuds. They have sports fins to keep the buds locked in place and also feature active noise canceling and six-microphone technology for voice calls. They're fully waterproof and have up to 8 hours of battery life at moderate volume levels.
JBL Reflect Aero features
V-Moda has released a couple of new true-wireless earbuds, the Hexamove Lite ($130) and the Hexamove Pro ($170). The Hexamove Pro has a "modular design" that allows you to add a combination of sports fins and ear hooks to get a secure fit. They also include three sets of shields -- the model color (black or white), silver and bronze -- that you can swap on and off to change their look.
They're IPX4 splashproof and have a battery life rating of six hours at moderate levels. For those with AptX-enabled Android devices, they support AptX Bluetooth streaming as well as the AAC codec (iPhones).$170 at Amazon
JLab has introduced a new Tones version of its $20 Go Air buds. The Tones comes in a variety of color options that are designed to match -- you guessed it -- your skin tone. You can also get matching Orly Color Labs nail polish to go with your buds.
Battery life is rated at up to 8 hours at moderate volume levels and the charging case has an integrated charging cable. They don't offer active noise canceling but they sound decent enough for $20.$20 at JLab
If you're looking for inexpensive sports buds with an ear-hook design, JLab's Go Air Sport buds ship soon and only cost $30. Available in a variety of colors, they feature IP55 water and dust resistance (they can take a sustained spray of water) and are rated for up to 8 hours of battery life at moderate volume levels. Like other JLab buds, their charging case has an integrated USB cable.$30 at JLab
The Moto Buds-S ANC buds are Motorola's new "premium" earbuds that feature active noise canceling, 10mm drivers and up to 6 hours of battery life (with 2 extra charges in the case, which has wireless charging capabilities). They're IPX5 splashproof.
Due to ship soon, they come in black or white and list for $150. I suspect their street price will be lower.$150 at MotorolaCNET TVs, Streaming and Audio
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