What kind of headphones would satisfy individualists who don't compromise on style? Our answers remain focused on audio quality and couldn’t be simpler. Stylish Hi-Res headphones that are as simple as a blank canvas.
For those with a clear sense of who they are and what they like, choosing headphones with style for casual listening should be easier. Designing this series all began with the idea of investing our audio expertise into new headphones that simplify this choice.
The kind of gear we envisioned would easily become part of your basic life apparel, no matter what your taste in fashion. First, we would avoid extras that some people like and others don't, depending on their aesthetics. What remained would be only what's truly essential to the listening experience. This thinking led to the idea of Single Shape, Single Colour. All of the elements, which are kept to a minimum, seem to merge into a single-coloured form that easily becomes part of your personal style.
Takuma, chief art director
For style-conscious listeners, finding audio products that match your look is easier when each specialized part is less distinct and blends into a harmonious whole. To bring a combination of premium listening and premium style to a wider audience, we compressed, condensed, and preserved the core essentials, seeking minimal, iconic design that's highly polished in basic details. The design we developed couldn't be simpler. We've never created anything like it, and it's a perfect match for anyone's lifestyle.
Few qualities are as important in headphones as ﬁdelity and comfort. To elevate performance in these two key criteria, we took an approach of extreme minimalism. In over-ear headphones, housing design aﬀects audio quality, and ear pad design can ensure a better ﬁt. While maintaining performance, we condensed the circle of the housing and the oval of the ear pad, linking these parts by the simplest of lines. Unlike most headphones, the arms are closely integrated into the housing, and from the band to the ear pads, the headphones form a single, coherent mass. Arms that follow your temples as closely as possible make the headphones ﬁt better and look more compact. Stylistically, these design details make the headphones very versatile.
The housing does not even have a Sony logo. Supreme simplicity. Careful construction hides all screws from view. The headphones fold near the ear pads, making them compact enough to toss into a bag. The hinge itself is metal, and sufficiently sturdy. Down to the details, these are headphones you can rely on.
For the earbud headphones, we sought superb audio quality in a size and shape that rests discreetly in the ear. While keeping the driver a compact 9 mm, we enabled Hi-Res performance by ensuring ample distance between the driver and sound conduit, enclosed in streamlined contours. Here, the elements indispensable to this audio quality take a simple shape. Externally, the appearance is equally sleek—the end cap is simply an unadorned, clean-cut surface.
Yashiro, art director
We took quite a radical approach in keeping the arms nearly flat against the housing until they reach a position near your temples. This was inspired by our quest for a "Single Shape" appearance, but achieving a good fit took much trial and error and many discussions with our engineers. This collaboration ultimately supported both form and function in these headphones, which have the look of new classics.
Discerning design extends to the colouring. Each option is uniformly one colour, which makes it easy to choose the one that matches your style. From the headphone body to the cord, each option brings together a tremendous array of materials and finishes in the same colour. Take the housing, which, for superior audio quality, is made of aluminum. The exact hue and sheen are created by anodizing, followed by precisely timed dying and chemical polishing.
The band is made of plastic to keep the headphones light, but matching this colour and finish takes three coats—one of metallic silver, another in the base colour, and another for a matte finish. Although each part is fabricated quite differently, the hue and glossiness are fine-tuned to match. Even the Sony logo matches this colour, which also simplifies the overall styling.
You'll find the colours fashionable, but more importantly, you'll surely find one that expresses your own style well. The options represent intermediate colours. They're intermediate in two ways, with the first being saturation. The subdued tones we chose may not be common in headphones, but they certainly are in fashion. They're also intermediate hues. Some might call one option blue, and others, green. Building on these, we developed five fresh colour options that resonate with people.
Each colour was meticulously selected, with many personal styles in mind. In fashion, Cinnabar Red and Lime Yellow are distinctive accent colours. Viridian Blue and Bordeaux Pink have a casual elegance. And for a more versatile option, there’s classic charcoal black. We considered the role each colour often fulfills, as well as the balance of this palette as a whole. Walkman® players are now available in the same colours, so that you can listen in visual harmony as well.
To offer four models of headphones and Walkman® players all in the same colour, we must coordinate the finish of about 30 different parts and materials. Multiply that by five colour options, and the number climbs to nearly 150. It took a lot of work to match the colours, especially because different factories are involved. In the end, our uncompromising stance let these products speak for themselves, through their elegance and evocative colours. Specs and features will always matter, but why not pick out audio products as you might choose clothes—because the colour catches your eye.
Expressive images and product photos fill the pages of our internal books of key visuals. These help ensure that what our designers envisioned is conveyed correctly in a variety of communication. The books keep everyone in promotion on the same page, so to speak. They're important as a shared record of things we can feel but can’t quantify.
The impact of these evocative colours is also clear the moment you open the box. Packaging is part of your overall experience with products, and here, the inner box matches the colour of the headphones.
The look and feel is consistent with the model you choose. We designed a respectable group of products, rather than emphasizing any single product. Thoughtful communication design is also evident in naming this series h.ear instead of using ordinary model numbers.
Kitahara, art director
What sets the h.ear series apart from most other Sony headphones is how evocative the design is. Audio quality was just the start. We also valued listening in style. That's why in communication design, we emphasize fashion and individuality instead of the product features and performance that are usually in focus. The realistic scenes we sought are easy to relate to, imagining yourself true to your own sense of style.
Be true to your own style with h.ear high-resolution headphones. New classics from Sony that bring a better everyday listening experience to a wider audience.