The big picture: Japanese technology major Sony has announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire high-end headphone brand Audeze. Based out of Santa Ana, California, Audeze is a niche audio brand that specializes in ultra-premium headphones for audiophiles, gamers, sound engineers and recording professionals. The company claims to be the leader in the planer magnetic driver technology that is said to offer an outstanding audio experience for all use cases.
While the financial terms of the deal were not disclosed by either party, Sony claimed that Audeze would continue to operate independently post-acquisition and make products for third-party platforms in addition to Sony and PlayStation. It's not immediately clear how long Audeze will remain platform-agnostic, but it's good news that the company will continue to offer products for non-Sony devices, at least in the foreseeable future.
In a press release announcing the planned acquisition, Hideaki Nishino, the Senior Vice President for Platform Experience at Sony Interactive Entertainment, said that the move highlights the company's focus on innovation and providing the best audio experience to PlayStation players. He also expressed confidence that the takeover will help the company deliver an improved audio experience to PlayStation gamers by building on the PS5's Tempest 3D AudioTech and the Pulse 3D wireless headset.
Audeze CEO Sankar Thiagasamudram also expressed his satisfaction with the deal, saying that it offers the company "a unique opportunity to scale (its) business." He also said that the acquisition will help Audeze deliver best-in-class headphones to audio professionals and improve the experience for PlayStation gamers. The press release also noted that the company will benefit from the acquisition, as it would help it become an integral part of the PlayStation ecosystem.
It is worth noting that Sony's latest audio products, the Pulse Elite wireless headset and Pulse Explore wireless earbuds, come with 'custom-designed planar magnetic drivers,' which is something that Audeze specializes in. It suggests Sony could already be using Audeze technology in some of its latest consumer devices, although the company has not officially announced anything on that front. Still, given the latest development, it is quite possible that the acquisition has been in the works for some time, away from the prying eyes of the global media.
While the takeover could be good news for PlayStation gamers, it will be interesting to see if it will have a negative effect on competition in the ultra-premium segment. Sony says nothing will change following the acquisition, but only time will tell if Audeze will be able to keep making devices for third-party platforms in the long run, or if it will become a mere extension of the PlayStation brand.