By Nate Adcock on Fri, 01/17/2014
There were too many cool audio whatevers at CES to name in a single post, but will give it a feeble shot. I admit I did not get to even a smidgin of the great tech demonstrations out there at the 2014 CES in Las Vegas. The show is just too massive. We walked for miles and miles to bring you at least a glimpse of some great stuff, but alas there was much we probably missed. Here is a round-up of some new audio products worthy of note from iHome, Zagg, Velodyne, Pioneer, Nyne, and more, all coming in 2014!
The folks over at iHome gave us some cool previews of their latest award-winning designs. I was able to catch a glimpse of another new product coming this year that I agreed not to post pictures of or talk about—all I can say now is to be on the lookout later this year for another addition to the iHome audio line!
They brought out a new svelt Bluetooth earphone set, the iB50 and turned the AirPlay-capable iW3 into a simpler Bluetooth speaker model called the iBT30 (which is a great idea). They also have a new Bluetooth rugged, waterproof Mil-Spec speaker coming called the iBN6 (shown above) that you can deploy off the muzzle of a tank. Okay, that's a bit of a dramatization. The color-changing iBT28 charges and looks cool too! All should be available this year by Q2, and prices will range from around $70–$150.
Featuring some of the sleekest, baddest (in a good way) looking headphones I found at the show, Velodyne (who also weirdly had an actual aircraft LIDAR at the booth—the company makes a lot of cool stuff), really knocked me out with their custom designed products. The headphones look great and sound great. The vBold is a BT wireless, noise-cancelling headset that is studio-class quality, and they just look almost too mean for words. There are seven over-ear models and two earbuds to choose from ranging from $99 to $399!
In the car audio space, I have always respected Pioneer audio particularly for innovative and quality design concepts. I was disappionted not to find any of the new wireless speakers in the booth (they were showing some off last year); they were touting instead the next generation of their car stereos, the NEX series. Bringing a new class of smartphone integration and connectivity—from around $700 up to $1400 in price range depending on the features—you can have ever more control over your smartphone while hopefully keeping your hand on the wheel. Apps are in the the house, with control of any source, macro functions, and smart presets too.
The Zagg iFrogz brand had a few Bluetooth tricks up its sleeve too, with some small but popping speakers. One is a tiny keychain model called the Tadpole ($19.99) that kicks up volume to three times that of your phone speaker, and one is a tiny popper called Codapop ($99.99) that similarly boosts the beats. Though not speaker-related per se, they also had their new Caliber gaming controller case at the show which should come out later this year. That should catch some serious attention when it hits.
JamStik has real guitar strings and a blow-you-away app to make this teaching and practice aid probably the coolest thing since I don't know what. JamStik plays about as close as I have come to a real guitar. They are still vetting a few wrinkles, but when this device comes out, I think it will be a must-have for traveling ax players. It even works in a gaming mode. I played it at the show, and will likely be recommending it to everyone I know who plays or wants to. Available for pre-order for $299.
IK Multimedia makes the very coolest products for musicians, but this thing is stupidly awesome! the iRing lets you make VERY cool beats and music loops on iPad by waving two rings around in the air in front of your iPad, and if you have a bit of rhythm (even a little bit), people around you will be freaked out by the coolness of watching you do it. Get the free Groovemaker app to set up some crazy jams and use it with MIDI input too. Two rings cost only $24.99. Available in Q1.
Nyne speakers all have a certain aesthetic that makes one think of waves (or a whale tale, or a teardrop from the side, okay that's enough). Form and function collide to bring a great sound and a bass that rumbles. All have speakerphone-capable Bluetooth 4.0 and some have NFC for the Android lovers. With a freaky waterproof Bluetooth speaker (called Aqua) you can float in the pool or shower. The Mini, Cruiser, and TT models should stay out of the pool however. Price ranges from $49 to $129
And finally, I apologize—I am going a bit off the beaten path here from audio—but a bit of the Toshiba booth had to be shown. Not only do they take connected EVERYTHING seriously, but their booth had me looking around constantly for a drone or robot to come zipping around the corner any minute. Talk about futuristic! A smart mirror over your sink to inform you of your vitals and your schedule for the day?! Also below, feast your eyes on the beautifully designed smart bracelet and monster-wide Multi Display! The booth was chock full of mouth wateringly beautiful 5K UltraHD displays. Aah, maybe someday!