2013 CES: Audio
The diversity of audio solutions at CES shows that while manufacturers feverishly push wireless solutions and soundbars, there are still plenty who cater to dealers such as David Glassman, owner of IQ Home Entertainment, Fairfax, Va., who see great merit and strong margins in traditional audio.
“Our hot buttons are our legacy stuff—traditional speakers and two-channel audio separates,” Glassman said, adding that in a recent Asia factory tour with the ProSource group, tour members asked suppliers “to continue to innovate, and continue to give people reasons to upgrade.” Based on what was shown in Vegas, that wish is being fulfilled.
The following is a quick tour of audio intros at CES:
Polk Audio focused on the streaming audio category with the Woodbourne tabletop entertainment system. It encompasses both Bluetooth- and AirPlay-compatible circuitry and is slated to ship this spring ($599).
Klipsch offered up the Music Center Stadium, a streaming system with Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth and AirPlay. The 2.1-channel system uses two 5-1/4-inch subs that fire at each other at the middle of the aluminum chassis. It also features Klipsch’s signature Tractrix horn technology. The Energy Power Base Bluetooth under-TV speaker system with built-in sub also debuted (available in the fall).
NYNE showed off its Bluetooth USB-charging NB-500 speaker. It is device agnostic and connects to any mobile device. It also includes auxiliary and USB inputs.
Amidst a wide array of headphone introductions, Monster introduced the ClarityHD Katana wireless Bluetooth music system ($699.95). Available in both black and white, it features a three-way, triamplified speaker array and Monster’s Dynamic Presence Enhancement technology.
Audio Design Associates (ADA) showed its first all-in-one integrated home theater controller-amplifier: the seven-channel Class D 3D-compliant Cinema Rapture ($4,999).
Bang & Olufsen rolled out the built-in in-wall BeoLab 15/16. Comprised of two active speakers, an active sub and an outboard rack-ready amplifier, it uses a motorized tilt mechanism that angles the speakers out from the wall when the system is about to be used.
Bryston, a newcomer to the speaker business, showed its new Model T Mini bookshelf speaker ($2,550/pair). The speakers, which feature Axiom drivers, are designed to play high SPL levels without compression or distortion.
Thiel CEO Bill Thomas presented a prototype of his company’s CS1.7 floor-standing speaker, which is shipping soon at $5,490/pair, and conducted demos of the CS2.7 three-way floorstanding speaker.
Definitive Technology focused on showing The Cylinder, its new clip-on Bluetooth sound system with a built-in subwoofer. It doubles as a kickstand for an attached tablet and can connect via an audio cable to any device with an analog audio output jack. Its Scotch-bottle-like packaging should prove to be an eye-catcher at retail ($199).
GoldenEar Technology highlighted its Triton Seven mid-size speaker. The first model in the Triton series without a built-in powered sub, the model is the company’s most affordable at $699.99 each. It uses the same High Velocity Folded-Ribbon driver as in the Tritons Two and Three.
At Harman Luxury Audio’s Venetian suite, a focal point was the upgraded JBL Project Everest flagship speaker (Model DD67000, $75,000/pair). The design improvements are encased in the same angled and curved chassis of the predecessor, and this rendering still uses a flared midrange horn driver.
Harman was also on the Central Hall show floor, featuring the JBL Rumble ($399.95), a speaker dock featuring compatibility with Apple’s new Lightning connector. It also accommodates streaming media from other devices and will work with DJ apps for party applications.
iHome unwrapped the iBT44 Bluetooth portable FM stereo “retro boom box” with USB charging capability ($199.99). It is powered by a half-dozen D batteries or a universal voltage adapter and is chargeable via USB; a nice added touch is a magnetized remote control that clings to the chassis so it can’t be easily lost.
Martin Logan took the wraps off the Balanced Force 210 subwoofer, which replaces its Depth I sub. It has two bipolar woofers and a larger amplifier, instead of the three woofers featured in the Depth 1.
Paradigm showed up at CES with its 30th Anniversary Reference Series Limited Edition Speakers: the five-driver, three-way floorstanding Tribute and the bookshelf-sized Inspiration, a two-way model featuring dual drivers. The company also announced the availability of its Millenia CT powered speaker/sub system in Apple Stores.
Totem showcased prototypes of two speakers: the Tribe Kin Sub ($699) and the Tribe Kin On-Wall Sub ($1,000), the latter offering versatility of placement and designed with an integrated amplifier. Both due out in April in satin-finish black or white. DS
Meridian highlighted its DSP In-Wall models, in particular, the DSP 640 ($7,500 each), which was slated to ship in February. The company also demonstrated its DSP7200 Digital Active Loudspeakers with upgraded software.
Wisdom Audio played its flagship planar magnetic speaker, the LS4 on-wall, in tandem with the STS subwoofer and SC-1 system controller ($108,000 total system ticket), and also showcased its more affordable Insight Series P6i speakers.