Ten years of Zound - The early years

Back in December 2009, a little-known company called Zound Industries shipped its first products out to retailers around the world. Fast forward one smartphone, tons of headphones and several speakers, and we’re celebrating ten years of Zound products. 

To honour our first decade of disruption, we’re going to look back at some of our favourite products. First up, we rewind to the early years.

Over the past decade we’ve launched about 80 products and that’s not counting all the different colourways and collaborations, so picking out just a few is a hard task. We decide to focus on products that mark a jump in our thinking or have a backstory to tell. 

In the early days, headphones came in either black, grey or silver. And, if you were lucky, white. So, when Urbanears’ Plattan hit the market in a spectrum of 18 colours it was a rainbow revelation.  

Back in 2009 you couldn’t stroll into an electronics store to pick up a set of our headphones. Instead the team chose to sell in fashion stores. Walking into a clothing store and seeing a mosaic wall of multi-hued Plattans made consumers see the product in a different context. Headphones were no longer just a tool. They were a style statement, an opportunity for self-expression.

Early product campaigns from Urbanears

The splatter gun approach wasn’t the only thing that was novel. Around the time Plattan launched, the iPhone also made its debut. Suddenly everybody wanted to get their hands on a good pair of headphones. But they needed a microphone to make calls. So, we added one as standard to all our products from day one 

We also added the Zound plug, a 3.5 jack on the ear cup so your friends could plug in their headphones and share your music.  

Plattan remains part of the Urbanears stable today. From the outside, the design has largely remained the same, but on the inside there’s been a revolution. Graduating from simple, wired gadgets into complex engineered products packed full of mechanics, electronics and digital systems. These iconic headphones are perhaps the epitome of how we work at the intersection of lifestyle and tech. 

You could be mistaken for thinking colour was the foundation of the Zound world, but music was the real bedrock of our products. From Tanto, a retro pair of Sony Walkman-esque headphones, to Slussen, an app that transformed your phone into a set of decks complete with a dualjack to connect speakers and headphones for the full DJ experience. And not forgetting Zinken, the DJ headset for the masses.

The Urbanears Zinken and it's iconic turncable

From day one we aimed to provide holistic experiences through our packaging and products and the only way we could do this was to really get into the minds of our consumers. This is exactly what we did with Zinken.  

In those days, if you worked in sound you used Sennheiser HD25’s. But they were made for broadcasting or film and hadn’t seen an update for years. Being part of music culture, we could see a real need for something tailored to DJs playing a set.  

So, we designed Zinken. Featuring a sleek headband that slotted easily under a set of decks, a cable with a 6.3 jack on one end and a 3.5 on the other, swivelling earcups and sweat proof materials. It took DJs from day to night and back again. Seamlessly. We couldn’t have created a product so tuned in to customer’s needs if we hadn’t understood them, been part of their culture and listened to what they wanted.  

This focus on our customers, splash of colour and soundtrack of music are still very much a part of the Zound world today. Tune in next week for part two when Zound start to explore the world a little more and we add some more brands to our arsenal.

Read the second part of the article here

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