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Polk's new headphones take a licking, keep on sticking

Polk showed off its Ultrafit sports headphones at CES with a new gimmick: a headset-wearing trampoline gymnast. The 'phones stuck.

Elizabeth Armstrong Moore
Elizabeth Armstrong Moore is based in Portland, Oregon, and has written for Wired, The Christian Science Monitor, and public radio. Her semi-obscure hobbies include climbing, billiards, board games that take up a lot of space, and piano.
Elizabeth Armstrong Moore
2 min read

LAS VEGAS--We've heard of headphones delivering new highs before, but never quite like this.

At the Polk Audio booth here at the Consumer Electronics Show, the manufacturer has set up one of the more brazen gimmicks at a show filled with brazen gimmicks: a trampoline gymnast who zooms toward the high convention-center ceiling with every jump. Of course, she's wearing Polk's new Ultrafit sports headphones, which--big surprise--stayed put despite her vigorous bounces.

Polk's trampoline-jumping gymnast just couldn't wriggle free of the 'phones. Elizabeth Armstrong Moore/CNET

We first reviewed Polk's UltraFit line back in September. The headphones range in price from $49.99 to $99.99.

The gymnast was wearing the lowest-priced UltraFit 500, which sits just inside the ear canal and extends out to hook over the back of the ear. It's a snug fit, but far more comfortable than shoving earbuds far enough into one's ear canal for them to not fall out mid-workout.

The UltraFit series all come with moisture shield, pretty cool tangle-free cables, and (except for the gymnast's $49.99 model) an Apple-ready in-line 3-button remote control and mic for easier music and mobile navigation.

Polk's UltraFocus 8000 is due out in March. Polk Audio

A rep said Polk is only going to move deeper into the world of headphones, and the company will be releasing another series this spring called UltraFocus. Not a sports line, these bad boys boast an ambient button that ups the outside ambient noise so the headphones don't even have to be removed for the user to at least minimally interact with the rest of the world.

It turns out that AfterShokz, which introduced "earless" headphones, is going for a similar ambient effect, but without a button to amp up surrounding sounds.

We'll have to wait until March to gauge whether Polk's over-ear UltraFocus 8000 set, priced at $350 (left), are worth the price tag. For now, at least on the gymnast, the UltraFit series is looking rock solid.