January 9-12, 2018
All prices in US dollars unless indicated otherwise
At this year’s CES, I heard some products that really captured my attention, and even though they were quite different, they have something in common: the Athena project. This experimental research project was conducted at Canada’s National Research Council (NRC), in Ottawa, more than two decades ago, and it sought to define the type of sound listeners would prefer from a loudspeaker. Researchers identified a “target curve” for frequency response that listeners preferred, and at that time they experimented with making the in-room response of a speaker more closely meet that preference by using digital signal processing (DSP). Back then it wasn’t practical to implement DSP in a loudspeaker, but many loudspeaker manufacturers still designed their products to meet that target curve acoustically -- and they still do to this day, both acoustically and now with DSP.
At every audio show, I find numerous cool new products that don’t fit the categories we’ve created, or that fell through the cracks of our other articles. Of course, CES 2018 in Las Vegas was no exception. So I’ll wrap up my CES 2018 coverage with a column full of the odds and ends that caught my eyes and ears. Here they are, with all prices listed in USD.
During my time at the 2018 CES, I came across several new cable introductions of note and a few more speakers that I had not included in my previous show reports. Here’s the last of my new-product coverage. All prices in USD.
Brand new product introductions for audiophile-type electronics at this year’s CES were relatively few and far between, but scouring the halls of the high-end exhibits at the Venetian and visiting some other manufacturers at off-site locations, I was able to find a few more significant product debuts. All prices in USD.
I found lots of interesting new headphones at CES 2018, including not only mass-market models but many of particular interest to audiophiles. I’ve covered several models previously in my “CES 2018: Unveiled” and “CES 2018: Headphones, Part 1” articles. Here are the rest of my favorites, with all prices in USD.
Considering that the high-end audio exhibits at CES 2018 were almost entirely confined to the 29th floor of Las Vegas’s Venetian hotel, I didn’t expect to find enough new turntables to fill an article. But to my surprise, I probably could have filled a couple of posts with new turntables from the show. Here are my favorites, with all prices in USD.
In between handing out the SoundStage! Network 2017 Products of the Year award trophies on the first couple of days at this year’s CES, I was able to find some interesting value-oriented product introductions from several of the usual electronics manufacturers that I’m familiar with -- and one from a company that really surprised me. All prices in USD.
Much of the talk at the 2018 CES centered on wireless speakers. But there wasn’t much discussion of the speakers themselves; it was more around the voice-command systems, such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, that many of the latest models use. Of course, I saw plenty of new wireless speakers using only Bluetooth, but most of the ones getting attention had Wi-Fi as well as some variety of voice-command.
As expected at this year’s CES, the high-end audio exhibitors were primarily restricted to one floor of the Venetian hotel -- and the exhibitors that were there didn’t even fill the entire floor (companies from other industries were located in some of the suites). But I was still able to find some interesting speakers on my first day at the show, including a couple that were offsite at the Hard Rock Hotel, where Harman (the parent company of JBL and Revel, among other brands) was exhibiting in addition to having a suite at the Venetian. All prices in USD.
The annual CES in Las Vegas is probably the best place in the world to experience a wide variety of headphones. Shows like CanJam probably have more high-end models, but the offerings at CES typically run from under $20 to well over $2000.
CES Unveiled is the first major event of the CES show, which runs through Friday of this week in Las Vegas. The 2018 Unveiled took place Sunday night, packing a predicted 1500 journalists and 100 tech companies together into a large ballroom at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. While a few large companies show up, it’s mostly small companies who might be missed in the maelstrom of CES’s main show floors.
The attendees at the ALMA International Symposium and Expo (AISE) 2018, held this week in Las Vegas, are mostly audio product design and testing professionals. Having heard and tested almost everything, they’re more skeptical of new technologies than attendees at an ordinary audio show might be. So when a friend of mine who’s a veteran of the audio measurement industry insisted I go hear a new speaker technology being demoed at a suite in the South Point Hotel, which hosted AISE, I figured I’d better go. I’m really glad I did.
When I saw a seminar titled “What’s New in Headphone Technology” on the schedule for ALMA International Symposium and Expo (AISE) 2018 -- an audio convention aimed at engineers and product developers that precedes the January CES in Las Vegas -- I naturally thought I’d be hearing about such topics as advanced digital sound processing and new methods of noise canceling. But there wasn’t a word about electronics. The presentation, by Mike Klasco, president of consulting firm Menlo Scientific, dealt entirely with new materials that could improve headphone performance.
The Association of Loudspeaker Manufacturing and Acoustics (ALMA) hosts its annual convention, the ALMA International Symposium and Expo (AISE) every year in the days leading up to CES, held each January in Las Vegas. AISE 2018 kicked off today at the South Point Hotel with a full slate of seminars targeted at audio product engineering and measurement professionals. During the first day alone, I found myself involved in more fascinating discussions about audio than I’d normally experience in a year’s worth of audio shows.
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