Great Days for Audio
Coming into this year’s International CES, it would have been hard to imagine a broader selection of audio products in every form, to fit every taste, than was displayed in the Venetian’s demo suites and on the floor of the newly labeled Tech East (Central and South Halls). Multi-room systems of every stripe, both small-footprint speakers and those that would need wall stretchers to fit into the average home, high-end components, and all manner of headphones with clever, differentiating twists—these were everywhere in Las Vegas.
Here is some of what was seen and heard:
• Klipsch offered numerous product debuts at its CES outpost, conducting Dolby Atmos and WiSA technology demonstrations in a sound room equipped with two concept Reference Premiere 5.1 systems. Klipsch’s Mark Casavant said the company was planning to market Dolby Atmos system elements at mid-year that include $2,500/pair floorstanding towers and a $950 center channel; Atmos-enabled height-channel modules are also going to be available at $500/pair. Klipsch also showed off and played the 10-speaker Reference Premiere series outside the sound room; that series is now in production as the company’s flagship speaker line. The Reference series features Klipsch’s exclusive 90°x90° Hybrid Tractrix Horn technology coupled with Linear Travel Suspension (LTS) titanium tweeters. Casavant pointed out that the series is designed “with clean baffles and no fasteners.”
• Sony, amidst a wide-ranging group of intros that included high-resolution home audio and multi-room music-streaming products—as well as a successor (in the HT-ST9) to its successful ST7 premium sound bar system, drew a good deal of attention for its portable audio introduction of the High-Resolution NW-ZX2 Walkman. Sony’s LDAC technology enables transmission of high-quality wireless audio via Bluetooth with one-touch ease. The ZX2 Walkman also has the S-Master HX digital amplifier, which was developed specifically for Hi-Res audio playback; it is said to reduce distortion and noise. Also on board the ZX2: DSEE HX technology, which “upscales” streaming sources that are less than Hi-Res quality. It comes with a 128GB built-in memory and a micro SD card slot, along with a Lithium-ion battery for up to 60 hours of playback on a single charge.