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Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Usain Bolt designs own line of headphones

By Theresa Manahan

Usain Bolt
Usain Bolt, in his SOUL Electronics SL300 Usain Bolt edition headphones, in a Jamaican color scheme.
Usain Bolt will be jammin’ even more than usual this summer, now that he has teamed up with SOUL Electronics to design two new headphones.

The collaboration with SOUL came from Bolt’s passion for music.

“Nine out of 10 times, when you see him, he has his headphones on,” Gina Ford, Bolt’s marketing and brand manager, says.

An islander raised on rhythm, Bolt grooves to reggae, dancehall and R&B to relax and prepare.

“My coach doesn’t recommend music pre-meet,” he says, “But on my way in the car, I jam to something slow and groovy.”

Bolt’s input in the design process focused mostly on functionality, color scheme and style, but he was also very concerned with the way the products felt and fit.

“The most challenging area for a headphone is to sound really good yet stay in your ear,” SOUL executive director Len Davi says. “Given the way an earbud seals in your ear, if you lose the air seal, you lose sound quality.”

The SL300 Usain Bolt edition, is an over-ear model with a Jamaican color scheme. The second model is a brand-new in-ear bud designed specifically for athletes.

“Having an earbud fit and stay on when you’re very active creates some unique challenges for audio,” Davis says. “But the product is sweat-proof and designed to be used under the rigors of an athletic, active environment.”

Although Bolt won’t be sporting his new gear at London -- IOC rules limit non-Olympic sponsors -- he approves.

“The headset is soundproof, and that is good for when I want to relax,” he said. “And it fits on my head perfectly.”

What’s more, in his free time off the track, Bolt can be found behind turntables at DJ gigs. From now on, he’ll be with his SL300s.

“The sound is great, and it makes for a great vibe when pumping the music,” he says.

In addition to the new toys, Bolt will appear in the "SOUL of Greatness" webseries in a 30-second spot filmed at his home base and track in Kingston, Jamaica.

“It shows where he came from and what he’s experienced in his life,” SOUL VP/Marketing Sarah Westbrook says.

Others in the summer series include Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, Barcelona FC midfielder Cesc Fabregas and rapper/actor Ludacris.

But you haven’t seen the last of the island man. Bolt counts Puma, Gatorade, Visa, Digicel and Virgin Mobile on his roster, and with the opening ceremonies now less than 45 days away, expect to see more of the athlete.

Just don’t expect him to slow down.