If you followed the news about the new PlayStation Earbuds and headset coming soon, you may have seen that they contain some surprisingly audiophile-level sound technology, in the form of high-end planar magnetic drivers.
Quite quickly, we got a hint about where this elite tech may have come from, because it was announced that Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) – which consists essentially of PlayStation and the in-house game developers that make its exclusives – was in the process of acquiring the audio company Audeze.
Audeze is a specialist in planar magnetic tech, having used it to great effect in a range of over-ear and in-ear headphones, including the phenomenal Audeze Euclid. The company also makes gaming headsets, which are much lower-priced than its music-focused headphones, but still use planar drivers.
Clearly, this attracted SIE's attention – because planar drivers are very low distortion and highly responsive, they're perfect for spatial audio, which is a major feature of the new PlayStation earbuds and headset.
But what does this mean for Audeze's audiophile fans? Will a company that's received a huge number of rave reviews for astounding wired headphones just disappear into the world of gaming? The original announcement was a little vague on this, but Audeze's CEO, Sankar Thiagasamudram, gave the following statement to TechRadar:
"Our business name will remain Audeze, and even under SIE’s ownership, this will not affect our plans for products that support multiple platforms and technologies, including PC, Xbox, or Dolby Atmos. In fact, SIE encourages us to expand these product offerings, and you should expect us to continue releasing new products for the Audiophile, Pro Audio, and Gaming markets in the future. This acquisition will only enhance our efforts and provide us with more opportunities in our target markets. Audeze will continue to operate independently as a separate business of SIE.
"For [the press] and our customers, it will be business as usual – Sales, Marketing, Production and Customer Service will continue as normal. On the manufacturing and engineering side, this is where you’ll see greater growth. Current Audeze senior management will continue (co-founders Sankar and Drag will be staying as well as Mark), as will our existing sales and customer service personnel."
Could it be even better for audiophiles?
It's certainly sounds like good news for hi-fi-loving Audeze fans who are hoping for more high-end launches from the company, though the really interesting outcome would be if Audeze can use the additional financial muscle of SIE to produce products at the same level of quality, but for a lower price.
If planar drivers can make it into PlayStation earbuds at $199 or the PlayStation headphones at $149, maybe they can find their way into $299 earbuds to compete with the best wireless earbuds such as the Sony WF-1000XM5 too – or $299 wireless headphones to compete with the likes of the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 4. Or even at those same prices but with wires would still be a huge lead in affordability, and would shake up the world of the best wired headphones, no question.
Or maybe it'll just be business as usual, with $1,000-plus headphones for the hardcore, $349 gaming headsets for serious gamers, and $199 PlayStation-branded gear for the console loyalists. That'd be fine too – it's just good news that Audeze is sticking around.