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Fender now makes in-ear headphones as well as guitars

Rich McCormick

Fender, best known for making a big sound with its classic guitars and amps, is now also making music on a smaller scale. The company yesterday announced its first ever series of Fender-branded headphones, five new wired in-ear models that start at $99 for the cheapest pair, and rise to $499 for the most expensive.

Fender acquired headphone maker Aurisonics

Rather than develop its own headphones, Fender went out and acquired Aurisonics, a boutique American manufacturer that catered primarily to serious audiophiles and professional musicians. A number of the new Fender-branded earphones are refreshed versions of the models Aurisonics sold prior to its purchase, "reconfigured and improved since the acquisition," according to Fender's Andy Rowley. Each of the phones in the new range boast a titanium driver — a good thing for audio geeks — and the higher-end models are 3D-printed using "Digital Hybrid Technology," a process through which Fender says thousands of ears were scanned to get headphones that fit 95 percent of people "like an expensive custom-molded monitor."

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The focus on audio quality is welcome, but Fender isn't the first guitar manufacturer to get seriously involved in the headphone market. Gibson — maker of the classic Les Paul and Fender's historic rival in the American guitar market — bought a stake in Japanese home cinema and audio specialist Onkyo back in 2012. Onkyo went on to acquire Pioneer as a subsidiary, and since, Gibson's audio department has put out a set of audio products under the various brands, including over-ear Trainer headphones modeled by Usain Bolt, and special sunburst Les Paul headphones shown off at last year's CES.

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