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Meet your new LCD sound system: Headphones with a touchscreen

French start up Debussy wants to you to advertise your street cred (an LCD screen smack-bang on your ears should help).


Debussy's Nathaniel headphones (complete with LCD screens) are only in prototype phase at the moment, but that velvet sure is real. 

Claire Reilly/CNET

It's not about what bands you listen to. It's all about the headphones you listen on. 

After all, if you're paying $5,000 for 4G-connected headphones with gold plating and an LCD touchscreen, you'd better be damned sure someone sees you while you're listening to those sweet, sweet tunes. 

French startup Debussy is keen to make your listening device (whether it's your phone, your laptop or even your old-school iPod) totally redundant. The company took to the show floor at CES Unveiled in Las Vegas to show off prototypes for its range of high-tech, connected headphones, promising a "musical life without limitations." 

In fact, you don't even need to be limited by your phone screen. You'll be able to control these suckers with the LCD screen glowing on the side of your head. The only real limit is your budget. 

The top-of-the-line Nathaniel headphones from Debussy (complete with velvet trim, gold plating and extra... street cred) will set you back $5,000 (that translates to £3,680 or AU$6,370). If that's too much, you can aim for the Claire de Lune model for $1,500 (£1,105, AU$1,910) or the basic Prelude model for $500 (£370, AU$640).

On the show floor at CES, Debussy told us that the exterior craftsmanship will change with the price, but the software -- including its proprietary smart assistant -- will be seen across the board. 


  • LCD touch screens on cup lets you control music
  • Stream music direct to headphones with 4G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity
  • 4GB storage, 20-hour battery life
  • Voice control and built-in smart assistant for making calls and queueing songs
  • In-built microphone lets you record ambient sound and music

To be sure, all of these headphones are only in prototype form at the moment, so you'll need to take their luxury promises with a grain of expensive salt. Debussy is planning a Kickstarter for March with plans to launch in the US and Europe within 18 months. 

CES certainly brings the weird and wonderful tech out of the woodwork, and plenty of high-end luxury tech products like this never see the light of day. But on the show floor, Debussy was promising big things (and they certainly looked the part in their deluxe velvet jackets). 

Correction, Jan 8 at 1:10 p.m. PT: Updated to note that Debussy's headphones feature one touchscreen, not two, as previously stated. 

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