Along with showcasing the best of home audio, CES 2019 is also front and center about latest consumer technology. CES showcases everything from home robots and cloud based voice assistants, to enormous TV’s and tiny foldable smartphones, plus everything tech in between.
Although high-end home audio is now just a part of CES, music lovers and audiophiles won’t forget this retailer and consumer event started as a music hi-fi electronics show. In the late 1960’s the show was all about of the best audio amps, loudspeakers, receivers, turntables, tonearms, and tape decks.
Fortunately, CES 2019 is still showing off huge amounts of the latest in audio, high-end audio, and ‘price is not in the equation’ (much) audiophile products.
So with CES in La Vegas wrapped up for another year we are happy to report that we found audio-focused tech innovations from Sony, Cambridge, Kanto, Klipsch Devialet, KEF, Apple, Qobuz, Voltbox and a few other nifty items we will inform you about.
New Improved Bluetooth Turntables
A few years ago you would have found it nearly impossible to find a turntable that used Bluetooth technology to stream music. That has changed with 2nd and 3rd gen turntables that match up your high-end Bluetooth speakers to a turntable easier and with even better sound.
The Sony PS-LX310BT turntable with Bluetooth connectivity is a solid piece of audio gear that is especially interesting because of its $250 retail price. We think Sony made the price affordable so you can spend your saved money on some new vinyl. Don’t the above was an idle comment because Sony has made a groovy decision to restart a vinyl factory to make its own records this year.
For those with audiophile turntable aspirations that want a more future proof Bluetooth turntable. Cambridge Audio’s CES latest is the $1,700 Alva TT turntable using integrated aptX latest HD Bluetooth technology (or any Bluetooth) to wirelessly stream audio from vinyl LPs aptX HD equipped speakers and amplifiers.
Objects That Look Nothing Like Bluetooth Speakers
Speaker in everything and everywhere is clearly something. With objects that look nothing like music setups or even speakers are showing up everywhere at CES.
Sony Glass Sound
It’s unique and expensive - Sony’s new Glass Sound Speakers presenting Bluetooth connectivity and lighting controlled by your device. It’s an expensive at $799, but has warm sound, and brings the newest tech into your home ahead of all your friends.
Please feel free to laugh and learn. For $7000 Kohler showed its Numi 2.0 Intelligent toilet with a powerful Bluetooth speaker system, Amazon Alexa, and custom lighting for your private moments.
CES show off Simplehuman bring you smart devices with a Google Home, lighting, and a of course a mirror! The Sensor Mirror Hi-Fi and Hi-Fi Assist should be available this spring with a retail price about half the price of the Sony Glass Sound. In the near future you’ll find it at the Simplehuman website, and other retailers.
Gadget lovers get ready for Voltbox which features a 2-in-1 powerbank with a Bluetooth speaker for wireless music streaming. It has charging 4 devices at once, 2 retractable cables, 2 USB ports, 5 LED power indicators, four Lithium battery cells, and a volume control.
High-end Bluetooth Speaker Systems
For those wanting the small wireless audiophile speakers you can be assured that in any speaker comparison articles in 2019 the Devialet Reactors will be front and center.
Rateyoursound was hugely excited by the prospects of the original Phantom speaker from Devialet in 2017 with its show stopper looks, and monstrous sound levels. For us, it was only impeded by its over reaching base price for most shoppers.
Now an affordable ultra-compact baby Devialet has appeared and is called Reactor. It looks like Devialet has shrunk the original (and wildly successful) Phantom speaker to about half the size. Just like the larger Phantom it has powerful amps but smaller full-range drivers.
Starting at $999 for one. Or, but two and use as a stereo pair or as a multi-room system. Thinking about the fact you can buy them one at a time is pretty nifty and offers some exciting micro-music system options for the desktop or, elsewhere in your living quarters.
Devialet Phantom Reactor Demo: Devialet's New Mini High-end Wireless Speaker System
It’s as if Sonos had a line of audiophile speakers that work wirelessly systems and go anywhere in the home. Along with superior sound you’ll also have easy to use apps with this compact music / audio setup.
Along this same ultra-compact design criteria KEF has created what appear to be compact baby twins of their KEF LS50 Wireless system best selling bookshelf speakers.
All KEF’s use a similar full range loudspeaker called the Uni-Q driver that will make the most critical ears happy. This new wireless speaker pair for your living room or desktop are called the LSX speaker system available in five colors. It is about half the size of the LS50 but still filled with goodies and high-end sound with Spotify Connect and Tidal built in. Also, stream from the cloud, or directly from a drive or a computer, or simply use Bluetooth.
Kanto, maker of the SYD speaker unveils a powered speaker dubbed TUK it plans to ship in early 2019. With newly-designed Air Motion Transformer (AMT) tweeter and well suited for near-field listening, this $799 speaker supports aptX HD/Bluetooth wireless streaming and boasts a built-in phono preamp, headphone amp, and USB digital-to-analog converter (DAC) along with analog and digital audio inputs and a subwoofer output. Along with their all-in-one, the KANTO SYD Speaker system, their wireless/bluetooth range is coming along nicely.
65 years on the Harmon Kardon brand is dedicated to building inspiring music systems for the home. 2019 brings the Citation Series which consists of eight unique multi-room smart speakers priced from $199 to $2499 that are full of features including touch controls, Google Assistant, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi streaming.
All the models in this expansive line use elegant and low key design elements that blend easily anywhere in the home but still make a statement. This is especially true for the floorstanding top of the line Citation Towers with aluminum accents and covered premium Kvadrat wool which is both dirt repellent and flame retardant.
Sony’s “360 Reality Audio” wants high-resolution audio further by adding a spatial dimension. This immersive sound experience depends on lots of things coming together. From the major labels, speaker makers, and streaming services to create this new ecosystem. One thing for sure, you’ll need special speakers that we are certain Sony (and others) will happily provide to you. I do not venture to guess if Sony will traverse from CES demo to mainstream living room sound with Dolby Atmos around. For Sony, still I’ll give them an A rating for cool looking wireless loudspeakers and great sound!
All-in-one Bluetooth Music Systems
House Of Marley
A high-end audio system made from sustainable materials and founded by the son of Bob Marley is featured at House of Marley. At CES 2019 the company announced its first smart speaker.
With Google Assistant on board this Bluetooth speaker design features aluminum, bamboo, and a fabric the company calls, Rewind which is loaded with hemp, organic cotton, and recycled plastics to create the speakers signature look.
At $199 this all-in-one audio system is packed with goodies such as, Chromecast for multi-room use, USB charging, and we are sure, dope sound.
Klipsch has a lovely looking all-in-one system called The Three. In its second generation it is now a real looker, and those who are decorating minded, will know what I mean. More than ever it exudes the classic designs of Paul W. Klipsch with tactile switches and knobs, acoustic fabric, all wrapped in a warm wood veneer that lets it go anywhere in your home.
Klipsch has always been proud of the big sound their loudspeakers deliver and The Three delivers this highly tuned signature sound. This system now benefits from Google Assistant, multi-room capability for $499.
In Other News
Big news for those wishing your Apple devices played nicer with others. The Apple company announced CES they have they opened up its locked ecosystem. Specifically this means Apple Music and iTunes will finally be able to seamlessly use non-Apple devices. You’ll see this available on Amazon Echo devices, Android phones, and LG, Vizio, Sony, Samsung TV’s.
Qobuz the French music streaming service announces a public beta is open to anyone wanting to try before you buy. The service offers an expansive hi-res streaming library, and eclectic catalogue, wide device support, and hi-res available on mobile apps. Click the link to drop your email into the queue. https://www.qobuz.com/us-en/discover
So as far as wireless and bluetooth Audio technology, we think CES has hada pretty good year in 2019. Thanks for reading and don't forget to see more audiophile bluetooth and wireless speakers before you go.