Meet the 37th Annual TEC Award Finalists: Headphone/Earpiece Technology
The NAMM TEC Committee is honored to present the 37th Annual TEC Awards in June at The NAMM Show in Anaheim, California.
The TEC Awards “recognize the individuals, companies, and technical innovations behind the sound of recordings, live performances, film, television, video games, and multimedia.” With award categories spanning 21 Technical Achievement and six Creative Achievement categories, the TEC Awards is considered the highest honor dedicated to the pro audio and sound recording industry.
TEC Awards finalists are identified through a three-step process starting with a “Call for Entries.” After the entry period, a panel comprised of industry leaders and professionals nominated eligible products and project submissions that “represent superior accomplishment in their respective fields.” Beginning in November of each year, pro audio, live event, and music industry professionals will vote for a finalist in each respective category, with one taking home the title of “Product of the Year.”
Products part of the Headphone/Earpiece Technology category include headphones and in-ear transducers for professional studio, live sound, and broadcast.
64 Audio – Nio Hybrid In-Ear Monitors: “Nio is a universal-fit earphone featuring a 9mm dynamic driver and eight balanced armature drivers.” 64 Audio characterizes these in-ear monitors as having a sound signature with “extended lows and a rich three-dimension soundstage” and “smooth treble and natural warmth” that will provide hours of enjoyable listening across genres. The ergonomically designed shell is machined from a solid piece of aluminum and finished with a brilliant blue abalone faceplate and feature unique technologies including apex®, LID™, and tia™.
Apple – AirPods Max Headphones: Billed as “a perfect balance of exhilarating high-fidelity audio and the effortless magic of AirPods,” Apple says that the AirPods Max Headphones are made for the “ultimate personal listening experience.” These reimagined over-ear headphones include a cushion canopy that provides an “uncompromising fit that creates the optimal acoustic seal for many different head shapes.” The AirPods Max hosts the Apple-designed H1 chip alongside computational audio that taps into each chip’s ten audio cores. This helps the computational audio block outside noise and adapts audio to fit and seal ear cushions and make “movie scenes sound like they’re happening all around you.”
Austrian Audio – Hi-X65 Professional Open-Back Over-Ear Headphones: Designed with the professional in mind, the Hi-X65 open-back headphones are for mixing and mastering and “built to satisfy the need for close, precise listening at these critical stages of the audio production process.” Although suited for professionals, the headphones are also ideal for those who appreciate the nuances of the listening experience. Austrian Audio reports that Hi-X65 headphones “provide a high-resolution, precise aural perspective and a critical new tool for professional mixing and mastering.”
Jerry Harvey Audio – Jolene In-Ear Monitors: This self-proclaimed “ode to analog” product is a four-way, 12 element hybrid in-ear monitor and features a driver configuration that “combines balanced armature and dynamic components.” Jolene is available in two signature designs and touted as “the most natural, analog-sounding IEM Jerry has ever designed.” Specifications include the use of a pair of 9.2mm dynamic drivers in the LF band (20Hz- 400Hz), a mid-range (400Hz- 4KHz) powered by two 4.9mm dynamic drivers, and high-mids (4KHz- 10KHz) and HF bands (10KHz- 23KHz), both powered by quad balanced armatures.
L-Acoustics – Contour XO In-Ear Monitors: L-Acoustics presents its “ultimate answer for your ears” with its Contour XO In-Ear Monitors that combine two pro audio industry award-winning innovators, JH Audio and L-Acoustics. Contour XO provides the “perfect reference IEM” for the company’s sonic signature on stage, at the mixing desk, in the studio, or on the move. The ten balanced armature drivers with 3-way crossover in a quad low, dual mid, and quad high configuration found in Contour XO “puts you in control of the low end with bass adjustment of up to 15dB above flat responses.”
Waves – Nx Ocean Way Nashville: This product replicates the acoustics and monitoring system of the legendary Ocean Way Nashville control rooms allowing users to “create better mixes, anywhere, anytime.” The Nx Ocean Way Nashville was fine-tuned by Allen Sides and “delivers faithful representations of the control room’s finely tuned acoustics, as experienced through the Allen Sides-designed Ocean Way Audio HR1 and HR5 far-field and near-field monitors.” The plugin is powered by Waves’ Nx technology that uses channel crosstalk, inter-aural delays (ITD), filters (ILD), early reflections, and head motion tracking to replicate the immersive experience of hearing audio in the real world.”