Audio and Home Theater technology will be brighter, sharper, and more wireless than ever in 2015. The new tech products highlighted at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show demonstrated advancements in in quality and simplicity for the user. After poring over a slew of reports, Bergen IT sees several significant trends shaping home theater and audio technology. Here are a few highlights:
In an increasingly wireless world, one thing for which there has been a scarcity is dependable and high quality wireless home theater systems. While no prices have yet been announced, Klipsch has announced and demonstrated its Reference Premiere Wireless Home Theater System. In partnership with the Wireless Speaker and Audio Association (WiSA) this system is possibly the first from an American audio company.
The system is based on a wireless transmitter hub about the size of an internet router. Behind the hub are four HDMI ports and a digital optical input. Connecting a Blu-ray player, a digital streaming device (such as Sonos), and so on to the hub is the extent of setting up the electronics of the system. All that’s left is placing the wireless Reference Premiere speakers and subwoofer and plugging each one into a power outlet. Once you each speaker’s role in your system (center, front left, front right, etc.), you just press a button to initiate wireless calibration.
This system greatly simplifies home theater set up. There’s no receiver – just the hub, your source electronics, and the speakers. We can see many more manufacturers jumping on this technology very soon.
LG’s new 4k OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) TVs wowed everyone who saw them at CES. Their markedly more vivid colors and deeper blacks than standard LED or LCD TVs, along with a great smart TV interface, is very impressive. While prices have not yet been announced, this TV may cost close to $10,000. Expect the 77” LG EG9900 to cost close to $30,000.
LG won’t be alone in producing 4k OLED TVs this year. Expect competition from Samsung and others, which will help drive down the prices of these high-end beauties.
More people listen to music today via headphones or earphones than with speakers. These are the hottest selling audio products, and makers of headphones are not just keeping pace but developing technologies to bring the best possible sound to your ears.
The Audeze El-8 are probably the best sounding headphones introduced at CES. The NASA-developed technology comes through with incredibly life-like sound and impact, particularly when connected to a high-quality headphone amp and high-resolution source. While very comfortable to wear, these $700 headphones do fully cover the ears and can be fairly bulky for travel or commuting.
Google Cast for Audio is likely to do for audio devices what Chromecast has done for video. Google Cast for Audio is going directly up against Apple AirPlay, and allows you to use any mobile device (laptop, phone, or tablet) to stream music to audio hardware. As of this writing, compatibility has been announced with Google Play Music, iHeartRadio, Rdio, and NPR One. Hardware partners include HEOS (by Denon), LG, and Sony .
A new high-resolution music streaming service has hit the American shores. TIDAL provides CD quality music for $19.99/month. The quality of the sound is markedly better than that of any other service we have heard, including Spotify.The service also provides high definition video.
The wave of high definition audio is only going to grow. So far, Deezer Elite is already available for Sonos or Bose users. This $15.99/month service, also at CD quality, will be available for everyone sometime in the next few months. Other services will be competing in this space soon as well.
We’ll be providing updates on these and other tech trends as the year progresses.
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