Note to Sony: Putting a period in the middle of your product name probably isn't a good idea.
I'm sure Sony's new $200 Hi-Res Audio compatible headphones sound pretty good, but their name is a bit of a head-scratcher: h.ear on.
That's pronounced "hear on" for the befuddled. Never mind that everything is lower-case. What exactly does it mean?
Chalk it up to a one of those ideas that sounded good in Japanese but didn't end up translating all that well into English. (See our list of worst-named tech products to see how the h.ear on stacks up).
Anyway, so it goes. The 8-ounce (227-gram) headphone does look attractive, is supposed to be comfortable, and comes in five vibrant colors: viridian blue, cinnabar red, charcoal black, lime yellow and Bordeaux pink.
Of course, to get the most out of it you'll need a Hi-Res Audio-compatible portable music player, such as Sony's Walkman NWZ-A17 , which I like. But I should warn you that in the past we've tried more modestly priced high-res audio headphones and come away a bit underwhelmed. In other words, just because you put the Hi-Res Audio label on a box doesn't make the headphone a truly high-resolution headphone. At around $225, Audio Technica's ATH-MSR7 is the cheapest true hi-fidelity headphone we've tested. (We use the term "hi-fidelity" to describe highly transparent headphones.)
But Sony says the h.ear on "headband-style" headphones have Hi-Res Audio chops, with 40mm HD drivers that reproduce sounds up to 60 kHz, augmented bass that's "complemented by lightweight CCAW voice coils which yield high-linearity responses in high-pitched sounds" and domes of the acoustic diaphragms have been titanium-coated to minimize unwanted vibrations. Additionally, a ground separated cable "reduces cross talk and is balanced compatible for balance output supported equipment."
On a more mundane level, the headphone cable has an in-line remote and microphone and the headphones come with a carrying pouch.
The h.ear on will hit the US in November "for about $199.99," according to Sony. No word on when we'll see it in the UK or Australia (where that price converts to around £130 or AU$285) or what it will cost, but we'll update this post when we h.ear more.