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Beyerdynamic’s €999 audiophile earbuds face an uphill struggle

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Beyerdynamic Xelento remote
Beyerdynamic Xelento remote

German headphone specialist Beyerdynamic is heading to CES with three new models to show this year, and the highlight among them is a €999 (roughly $1,050) pair of in-ear headphones called the Xelento remote. It features the same Tesla technology of Beyerdynamic’s successful over-ear cans, just reduced down to a much more portable package. I don’t doubt that, in true Beyerdynamic fashion, these new earbuds will probably sound outstanding, but I question how much of a market is left for them in the wake of some extremely affordable high-quality earphones launching in recent times — such as the OnePlus Bullets v2 — and in the face of the current trend toward favoring convenience over quality.

Still, the Xelento pair is going to probably be one of the more high-end experiences of this upcoming CES, and I congratulate Beyerdynamic on its elegant turn of phrase: "Such progress can no longer be perceived with the naked eye but it can scarcely be hidden from the ear." Audio companies always have the smoothest marketing spiel.

Beyerdynamic MMX 300 (2nd gen)
Beyerdynamic MMX 300 (2nd gen)

Also on Beyerdynamic’s CES agenda will be an update to its celebrated MMX 300 gaming headset, with the second-gen MMX 300 adopting a more demure, all-black color scheme. The new headset’s cable is detachable, designed to "release effortlessly" should there be a sudden tug on it. Beyerdynamic touts 18dB of ambient noise attenuation just by virtue of the design, which has been inspired by the company’s work on pilot headsets. The refreshed MMX 300 will cost the same as its predecessor, €299 ($315), and is expected to be available in February, around the same time as the Xelento.

Beyerdynamic Custom Game
Beyerdynamic Custom Game

The third CES debutant out of this German outfit is a customizable gaming headset called, appropriately enough, Custom Game. This extends Beyerdynamic’s Custom series of headphones to the gaming realm, bringing with it a slider for adjusting the bass response. Four settings dictate how open the headphone is, with the most closed option providing the most bass and external noise attenuation. For quieter environments, you can dial it back for a more natural sound. The shields on the exterior of each ear cup are swappable, and you can also pick particular colors for the headband and ear pads, lending the whole headset a more personalized look. The Beyerdynamic Custom Game will go on sale in February for €199 ($210).