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CES 2023 Dispatch from the show floor: Part 2
The giant, overwhelming circus of consumer electronics that is CES continues in Las Vegas, and SoundGuys is still looking for all the good stuff, despite increasingly tired legs. Check out what we saw on day two and three.
Walking the show floor on CES day 2
We started the show’s second day at The NL Tech Pavilion to visit Absolute Audio Labs, developers of some cutting edge technology for hearing and voice applications. Its software suites focus on speech intelligibility, personalization, music quality, and hearing protection for TWS earbuds and hearing aids. We took part in some listening demos of Amadeus, hearing aids that not only provide speech enhancement, but are also tuned with music enjoyment in mind—something that is sadly missing in most current hearing assistance devices.
Altec Lansing’s giant stand drew us in from the show floor at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The brand introduced a few new audio products for CES 2023, including several earbud models, the SoundRover and Sonic Boom party speakers, and two new models of kids-safe headphones—one with active noise canceling (ANC) and one that lights up—bringing more choice to an underserved market. The company also showed off its new HydraBud true wireless earbuds—fitting in with its “Everything Proof” ethos, the HydraBud is waterproof, dirtproof, snowproof, shockproof, and it floats.
As well as Altec Lansing’s own line up, there were also products from the AIWA brand, which it recently acquired. Originally founded by Sony, AIWA was once well known for offering premium technology and features in portable consumer electronics products at mid-tier prices. Now, with Legacy Audio and Infinity Brands (the parent company of Altec Lansing) at the helm, the AIWA brand is back with updated technology and some vintage looks. We particularly like the look of the boombox products, but haven’t yet been able to confirm whether they really do use D-cell batteries or if that was actually a joke.
A VIP listening experience with Sennheiser
Sennheiser hosted us for a VIP listening experience where we got to hear a few of its latest products, including a compelling demonstration of last year’s AMBEO Soundbar Plus, a scaled down version of its mighty Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar MAX, which packs nine total drivers, two of which are up-firing for height effects. However, the main purpose of our visit was to get hands on the Sennheiser’s new Conversation Clear Plus earbuds, another addition to the hearing enhancement devices on show at CES this year.
With these buds, you can better hear your world thanks to the speech enhancement and ambient noise reduction processing. Our short demo involved wearing the buds whilst having a one-on-one conversation with one of the engineers, in a room filled with other loud conversations (as well as other AMBEO soundbar demos). We were thoroughly impressed with both the comfort and the clarity of speech the Conversation Clear Plus provided in this situation.
Another listening station offered the chance to hear the IE200 wired IEMs. These new in-ears slide into Sennheiser’s line up right between the existing IE100 and IE300 models, with a sound signature that’s consistent with IEXXX range, which has been a hit at SoundGuys thus far.
Lastly, it would have been rude to have passed up the chance to take a listen to Sennheiser’s ultimate headphone rig: the HE-1 (previously called the Orpheus)—which seemed like an appropriate way to finish off the VIP experience—and just like in 2017, it was definitely worth the trip!
Walking the show floor on CES day 3
As well as live our interviews with Chuck Sabin, Senior Director of Market Development for the Bluetooth SIG, and Sankar Thiagasamudram, Founder & CEO of Audeze on the Authority Media stage, there was plenty at the show to keep us occupied.
SVS showcased its new SVS Prime Wireless Pro audio gear and a new in-wall subwoofer with dual 9-inch drivers, which sounded pretty awesome being driven with an external 800-watt RMS amplifier with complimentary built-in DSP. The booth also hosted a dual subwoofer surround sound demo experience featuring Dolby Atmos height effects in an all SVS 5.1.2 system. The Marrakech Car Chase Scene from Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation sounded—and felt—absolutely gut wrenching and did a superb job showcasing the subwoofers’ excellent transient response.
Dirac shows off its active room treatment system
The final demo of the day was hosted by Dirac, to showcase its Dirac Live Active Room Treatment (not to be confused with the older Dirac Live Active Room Correction technology). Using a frankly awe-inspiring selection of components including a 5.3 surround system made up of exclusively PerListen Audio loudspeakers and a StormAudio ISP Elite processor (the total system costs around $94,000 USD), we were treated to some stereo and surround sound source material.
This was used to demonstrate how, in addition to the audio signals you might expect, Dirac’s processing feeds the speakers with corrective signals to compensate for the room’s effect on the other speakers in the system. It’s extremely clever, and it means that with Dirac’s system, acoustically treating your listening room is no longer a concern, and the area of the “sweet spot” practically becomes as big as the entire space between the speakers.
The rights to Dirac’s new technology are exclusive to StormAudio until October of this year, but we’re already excited about the prospect of this becoming available in more accessibly priced receivers.