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Stars of CES 2018: The best audio products of CES

The main headlines at CES may still be dominated by new TVs, but away from the main showfloor, there is plenty of space for, well, pretty much anything else that falls under the increasingly broad 'consumer electronics' umbrella.

The Venetian is dedicated to high-end audio, where hi-fi brands from around the globe showcase their latest wares, from turntables to speakers, headphones to streamers.

We've picked out ten of our favourite products from this part of the show, all of which are worth looking out for in 2018...

Arcam CDS50

Arcam has unveiled a new design at this year's show, taking the wraps off some early examples of three new products. Alongside the SA10 and SA20 integrated amplifiers, we can look forward to seeing the CDS50, a network streamer and CD/SACD player. Arcam assures us it's very early days for these products, and the finish is likely to see further fine tuning, but the new-look fascia - the first in 19 years - is here to stay. The products should be on display at the Bristol Show in the UK in February, ahead of a spring launch.

MORE: Arcam's new HDA range comprises an SACD/CD player and two new amps

Audeze iSine LX

The Audeze brand is hugely popular with serious headphone afficianados thanks in part to its preference for planar magnetic drivers and eye-catching designs. The company's newest pair of earphones tick both those boxes but it's the ultra-low, $200 price tag - it's all relative - that caught our eye. Light and comfortable, almost in spite of their bold styling, the iSine LX earphones claim seriously low levels of distortion. The option of the Cipher Lightning cable, complete with DAC, is a nice touch, too.

MORE: Audeze iSine LX are the company's most affordable headphones

B&O Play Beoplay H9i

If Bang & Olufsen is calling the H9i cans its "most luxurious headphones", then we're most certainly interested. As is expected at this price (£450), they feature wireless connectivity and active noise-cancelling. An update to the H9s, they boast a more streamlined design, complete with touch controls, a boosted battery life of up to 18 hours when using ANC and Bluetooth, and better noise-cancellation. They didn't sound too shabby, either.

MORE: B&O Play announces H8i and H9i wireless headphones

Chord Qutest

When it comes to desktop DACs and headphone amps, you can't really argue with anything Chord Electronics turns out. So of course we're happy to see a new addition to the family. The Qutest (no comment) is designed solely as a link between digital source and amplification, rather than as a headphone amp, and acts as a direct replacement for the 2Qute. It uses the same DAC architecture, software coding, frequency-shaping filters and input selection controls as the Award-winning Hugo 2 (£1800), but ditches the headphone amplifier and rechargeable batteries that make the Hugo 2 portable. Hence the lower price of £1195. With tweaks on the inside and out, Chord is promising performance gains, too.

MORE: Chord launches Qutest, a DAC in the Hugo 2 mould

DS Audio DS W2

Turntables may seem about as far away from the cutting-edge of tech as it's possible to get at CES, but there is of course still room for refinement - and plenty of ongoing interest in playing vinyl. The DS W2 is not for the plug and play masses, however, this is a complete phono system, with preamp and cartridge, costing comfortably into five figures - thanks in part to the inclusion of a laser. The thinking behind this optical cartridge, the company's third such device, is that removing the coil and magnet can only be good for performance, keeping interference and weight to a minimum. A dedicated preamp is just the icing on the cake.

MORE: The DS W2 is an optical phono cartridge system costing $13,000

JBL L100 Classic

Not smitten by voice control and virtual assistants? Prefer to keep things simple? JBL is on the same wavelength. While the company has plenty of more forward-looking products on show at CES, from headphones to wireless speakers, it has also found time to revive and reintroduce the company's all-time best-selling speakers, the L100s. The originals were launched at CES back in 1970 and now they're back - albeit with bang-up-to-date components, including new tweeters and a fresh crossover design. The classic design hasn't gone far, however, which is alright by us. Due out in spring, the JBL L100 Classic speakers will cost $4000 per pair.

MORE: JBL revives its classic L100 speakers

Marantz AV8805

How many channels does your AV amplifier need? 13.2, according to new models from brand siblings, Denon and Marantz. Why? Well, they're ready to drive a next-gen surround sound system, thanks to support for 9.1.4 or 7.1.6 configurations. It's the Marantz AV8805 preamp/processor that caught our eye at The Venetian, and it's due out in February for $4500. It supports both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X (Auro-3D will come with a firmware update), has a healthy eight HDMI connections, HDR and 4K pass-through, plus HEOS multi-room and Alexa Voice support.

MORE: Marantz AV8805 is brand's first 13-channel AV amplifier

MORE: Denon launches X8500H 13.2-channel AV amplifier

NAD D 3020 V2

Look familiar? The D 3020 V2 stereo integrated amplifer is a replacement for 2013's trend-setting D 3020. It adds a moving magnet phono stage to the original's specification so you can add a turntable, along with stereo pre-outs, RCA analogue inputs, and optical and coaxial digital sockets. Wireless connectivity is here via aptX Bluetooth, and all digital inputs lead to a 24bit/192kHz DAC. The D 3020 V2 will be priced at £399. The original was a game-changer, so let's hope this new model does it justice.

MORE: NAD unveils new amps and headphones at CES 2018


It wouldn't be Vegas without some flashing lights, and Soundots delivered thanks to its neat little modular wireless speaker. A $290 wireless speaker from an unknown company may not get you hot under the collar, but the modular aspect proved surprisingly compelling. Stack them side-by-side or atop each other and the sound instantly spreads to the newly-connected speakers, so you can make your own soundbar or speaker stack. The sound was better than expected and the flashing lights certainly help them stand out. They even support high-res audio.

MORE: Build your own speaker stack with the Soundots modular speaker

Technics SL-1000R

The enduringly popular Technics brand continues its renaissance with a further step into high-end hi-fi. Two new turntables are on show at CES, the SP-10R, first previewed last year, and the new flagship SL-1000R. Updated versions of the classic SP-10 Series, and taking learnings from the new SP-1200, these are high-end decks aimed squarely at the hi-fi market rather than DJs (there's no pitch control). The SP-10R features the deck itself and a separate Control Unit power supply, while the SP-1000R adds a rigid cabinet for insulation and the tonearm. In fact, there's scope for easily adding up to three tonearms (pictured). That beautiful engineering doesn't come cheap however: the SP-10R costs $10,000, while the SL-1000R is $20,000. Let's hope they sound as good as they look.

MORE: Technics introduces SP-10R and SL-1000R turntables

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