Simon Cowell has unfurled the latest tentacle of his global money-making empire: his own brand of headphones.
X Headphones will feature heavily on the new, second season of The X Factor USA – which debuted on Fox last night and comes to ITV2 on Thursday 27 September.
Syco Entertainment, Cowell’s joint venture with Sony Music Entertainment, will distribute the product in conjunction with Sony. The headphones will initially retail in the US at $299 (£185).
“I simply wanted something better than what is in the market today,” Cowell said. “I’ve tried all of them, literally every single one. Sony and I set out to create the best headphone in the world. We are absolutely blown away by these. With the X headphones, it’s like being in the recording studio when the records are made. The sound is that clear.”
The price of the X Headphones puts them into the premium headphone sector, which is currently dominated by another celebrity-backed product: Dr Dre’s Beats by Dre. Beats are a runaway success in the UK and US, with sales of their distinctive, red-cabled sets accounting for as much as 30% of the American premium headphone market.
Dr Dre himself has, according to Forbes, become the richest man in hip-hop as a result of Beats profits.
X Headphones display a clear Beats influence, with their use of similar red colouring, their premium pricing and even Cowell’s quote about replicating studio sound. Although they have since been criticised for offering better visual design and packaging than sound quality, Beats were launched by Dr Dre with the promise: “People are going to hear what the artists hear and listen to the music the way they should.”