When Alpine contacted us a few days ago, we had hoped it was to let us know that it had finally released CarPlay for its premium line of in-dash receivers. No dice, folks. CarPlay will have to wait for a few days, because Alpine’s more immediate news has nothing to do with in-car entertainment. Rather, the company has decided it wants to entertain you outside of the car as well as inside. Today, the company announced a new line of headphones and a companion app, likely in hopes that it can capitalize on what seems to be an endlessly expanding headphone bubble.Simply named Alpine Headphones, the cans have a look that fits in with the fashion-forward approach that has become so prevalent in today’s trendy headphone market. A smooth, halo shaped headband gives way to diamond shaped earcups, with a rubbery silicone material lining the inside of the headband, and soft leatherette lining amply padded ear cups.
The similarities end there, however, because in contrast to their simple name, the Alpine Headphones are chock full of tech. Packed into the headphone frame are 24-bit stereo digital-to-analog/analog-to-digital converters which process the input signal. From there, the signal is passed on to a pair of digital amplifiers. Driven by the amps are two 40mm drivers, one in each earcup, and a bass transducer, which sits at the top of the headband, literally pounding the listeners head with bass. The headphones do have a Bluetooth chip, but not for wireless listening — the chip is just there for programming, independent equalization for the bass transducer and headphone drivers. A Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery rated to last roughly 10-hours on a full charge. Alpine notes that a special passive mode will allow for listening in case the battery dies.
Accompanying the Alpine Headphones is Alpine’s iOS app, dubbed Alpine Level Play, which organizes a user’s music library according to “energy levels.” The idea is that one might want an energetic playlist for a workout, while a late evening listening session might call for something a little more laid back.
We managed to get a hand on the Alpine Headphones, and offer our first impressions in the video above, but here’s the bottom line: Alpine’s headphones take a novel approach, but at the end of the day, they aren’t exactly revolution in music listening. If anything, the Apline Headphones’ laundry list of features serves to make them look more attractive to tech-obsessed younger listeners who like the idea of a super high-tech headphone as much as the headphone itself. Do they work well? Sure. But considering their asking price, we’d expect a little more out of the bass transducer, and a whole lot more from the app. Still, we think if Alpine can gain some attention with these headphones, they might just do well for the company — they certainly offer an engaging listening experience, and the novelty of a headphone that vibrates is hard to deny.
The headphones are available in ‘Apollo White,’ and ‘Onyx Black,’ come with a USB charging cable, iPhone-ready headphone cable with remote and microphone, and a carrying pouch. Alpine Headphones are available now for $300 at Apple stores, or in retail locations starting October 17.