CES 2019: The Show’s Best Speakers, Turntables, Headphones and Hi-FI Gear
We take a look at the sonic products that shone at the world’s biggest tech show, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held in Las Vegas.
Sony PS-LX310BT turntable
Pitched at those aiming to get into vinyl but put off by high turntable prices and the need to invest in an amp, pre-amp and speakers, Sony’s PS-LX310BT comes with Bluetooth (as well as a built-in pre-amp and standard line outputs) to make setup super simple.
The inclusion of Bluetooth means that the turntable can be swiftly paired with wireless speakers, soundbars or headphones at the touch of a button and that, twinned with the low cost of US $299, makes the PS-LX310BT sound like the ideal entry-point for vinyl newbies. It will be on sale from May 2019.
Audio-Technica AT-LPW30TK turntable
Japan’s Audio-technica is particularly renowned for its studio microphones, but has built a solid rep for excellent turntables too – and the upcoming AT-LPW30TK is built to charm the eyes as well as the ears.
With its teak veneer finish, this turntable recalls the classic hi-fi components of the 1970s, but the makers claim the high-density wood construction makes a difference sonically too – by damping down potential low-frequency feedback. The turntable also features an aluminium tonearm, built-in switchable pre-amp, Dual Moving Magnet cartridge.
Australian prices are yet to be confirmed, but the Audio-Technica AT-LPW30TK will be priced at £299 in the UK when it starts shipping this Spring.
Are you looking for the perfect audio accompaniment for the weekend barbecue or beach trip? Sony’s hulking GTK-PG10 might be just the ticket, seeing as it’s splash-proof, equipped with handles for portability and a battery delivering up to 13 hours of music playback per charge. Oh, and it even has a table on top and cup-holders for your tinnies.
With Bluetooth, line-in, USB and karaoke microphone connectivity, plus a built-in FM tuner, there’s no shortage of inputs, while the unfolding top panel switches the speaker output from indoor to a wider outdoor mode via up-firing tweeters.
The Sony GTK-PG10 is “coming soon” priced at US $250 - Australian pricing and availability are yet to be confirmed.
HyperX Cloud Orbit S
It might look like just another gaming headset, but HyperX’s Cloud Orbit S is particularly noteworthy for being the most affordable way to get Audeze’s positional audio in your ears.
Audeze’s tech creates a believable three-dimensional soundstage, with 360º head-tracking included – so as you move your head around, the sounds move with you. The effect is like VR for your ears, particularly useful in increasing video game immersion, and previously the cheapest way you could get it was through Audeze’s own Mobius headphones, but the Cloud Orbit S is a fair bit less (US $330 to the US $400 you’d pay for the Mobius), while being well built, comfortable and offers excellent audio quality.
It’s out in the first quarter of 2019 in the US, but availability in other regions is yet to be confirmed.
There’s no more iconic DJ turntable than the Technics SL-1200, and CES 2019 saw the unveiling of its seventh incarnation since 1972 – the first with a coreless direct drive motor to avoid cogging rotational irregularities and full reverse play (a nod to its roots in hip-hop and dance music).
The MK7 shares a similar elegant, utilitarian look to previous SL-1200 models, albeit with a new matte black finish and construction that blends aluminium with fibreglass to increase rigidity and reduce vibration.
Technics has yet to confirm either a price or release date for the SL-1200MK7, but going on previous Technics releases of recent years it won't officially be available in Australia.
Another impressive Audio-Technica announcement was the manufacturer’s first pair of premium over-ear noise-cancelling headphones, built to compete against the likes of the Sony WH-1000XM3 and Bose QuietComfort 35 but priced a little lower.
Built to be lightweight and comfortable, the 40mm driver-equipped headphones use four microphones to pick up exterior noise to then be cancelled out, leaving the wearer in an oasis of near-silence. The effect can be toggled on and off by holding your palm over the left earcup, which is ideal when you need to have a conversation then quickly zip back to your music. The makers say the internal battery delivers up to 35 hours of Bluetooth audio and active noise cancellation per charge.
The headphones support wireless audio via Bluetooth 5, but an included cable gives users the option of a wired connection, which is necessary for Hi-Res Audio playback.
Australian pricing is TBC, but the ATH-ANC900BT will launch in spring priced at US$299/£269.
Klipsch Bar 48W
In terms of voice assistants and wireless audio, soundbars don’t come much more fully loaded than the Klipsch Bar 48W, which is compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple AirPlay 2, opening up a vast variety of ways in which the user can control it and supply it with music to stream.
Designed to ape the classic hi-fi look of Klipsch’s Reference speaker series, the 48W can be purchased with or without a separate matching subwoofer and supports DTS Virtual:X surround sound. It will be available in the Spring, with pricing TBC.
Sony LSPX-S2 Glass Sound
A speaker that looks like anything but – in fact, it looks more like a candle – the Sony LSPX-S2 Glass Sound can project 360º sound via new Advanced Vertical Drive technology. An actuator located inside “taps” the glass tweeter from below to create sound, and Sony claims its wide surface area compared to regular speakers creates a loud, clear sound. It’s even compatible with Hi-Res Audio, suggesting Sony’s claims hold some weight.
The speaker features both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi wireless tech and can be networked with up to ten other Sony wireless speakers in a single location. Additionally, it can operate without mains power thanks to a rechargeable battery that delivers up to eight hours of playback per charge.
The Sony LSPX-S2 Glass Sound will be available in Australia from July, priced at $699 RRP.
This little-known brand produced what we believe to be a world-first at CES 2019: a pair of true wireless headphones with a wireless range of 100 feet – about three times what the Apple AirPods can manage.
The extreme range comes courtesy of the new Qualcomm QCC3026 chip, but you’ll only get its true benefits when using a smartphone packing one of Qualcomm’s recent Snapdragon 845 or 855 processors.
Mavin claims the Air-X offers about twice the battery life of the AirPods to boot (10 hours, with a further 40 added by the charging case), which makes them sound excellent value for their US $179 asking price. There’s no word just yet on an Australian launch date or price.
NAD Masters M10
Those searching for a compact high-end home audio system would do well to cast their eyes over the new Masters M10 from NAD, which comes equipped for hooking up home cinema and hi-fi sources, while also supporting both Apple AirPlay 2 and BluOS Hi-Res multi-room wireless streaming or LAN-based streaming from a networked storage device.
The digital amplifier inside delivers 100W per channel, which seems fairly impressive for the tiny size of the unit, which looks suitably elegant thanks to its design by the renowned DF-ID agency.
Look out for the Masters M10 from February, and local pricing is expected to be $3,999 RRP. More information here.
Having been covering consumer tech since phones were dumb and TVs weren’t flat, few things in the gadget world still have the power to surprise Sam – which is why he loves writing about those few things that do. A Londoner transplanted to New York, and now returned to the English coast, he’s a photographer and loving what drones have brought to the hobby.