Our eyes have grown three sizes upon witnessing *that* LG rollable OLED TV, a full-sized flying taxi and Foldimate’s laundry folder at CES 2019 this week.
But it wasn’t difficult to muster enthusiasm for some of the audio products on show either - not least as Technics had a big announcement, and we clocked a brand-new successor to one of the world's most desirable DACs.
At CES, away from the Las Vegas Convention Center showfloors, The Venetian is dedicated to high-end audio, where hi-fi brands from far and wide come to showcase their latest – and upcoming – fare.
Ten products in particular caught our eyes, all of which are well worth looking out for in 2019...
Technics SL-1210 MK7
Easily one of the biggest audio announcements at CES this year was that Technics is getting back in the DJ game with the arrival of a new addition to its legendary, 1972-launched SL-1200 Series turntable range.
The Technics SL-1210 MK7 (or SL-1200 in the US and Japan) expands on the series’ legendary sonic engineering and distinct visual design with new DJ features (such as reverse playback) and will cost a manageable £899 when it arrives in the summer. An iconic slice of sonic history, it is destined to be popular among DJs and vinyl fans alike.
NAD Masters M10
NAD’s brand-new just-add-speakers audio system is the latest product to feature the BluOS multi-room streaming platform developed by NAD's partner brand Bluesound.
The Masters M10 (£2199) – an answer to Naim’s five-star Uniti Atom – supports hi-res audio, multiple streaming services and MQA, and features several analogue and digital connections (including HDMI eARC) and Dirac Live Full Room Correction. Apple AirPlay 2 is also imminent. We look forward to hearing just how masterful it is when it ships next month.
Nagra HD DAC X
The justification behind the inclusion of the Nagra HD DAC X on this list is perhaps the easiest of the lot. The all-new $65,000 DAC is an update to one of the best and most desirable DACs we've ever heard (the Nagra HD DAC). And if our demo at CES is anything to go by, it sounds fantastic. Enough said, really.
Despite the task at hand, Nagra has given the new HD DAC X every bit of a chance to topple its predecessor's achievement, claiming improved dual-mono topology, a noise level 30 times lower, and a newly designed vibration-free stand.
Classé Audio Delta Series
Almost a year to the day after Sound United acquired the Canadian high-end hi-fi company, Classé Audio is preparing the launch of a new, three-strong amplifier range.
The Delta Mono monobloc ($11,000 each) and Delta Pre preamp ($10,000) pairing sounded pretty impressive running a $42k pair of Magico speakers. A Delta Stereo integrated amplifier completes the series’ line-up. Shipping summer 2019.
PSB Alpha Series
28 years after the original Alpha speaker series was launched by Canadian company PSB, the range returns in 2019 with a four-strong line-up.
The P3 (£179/$199) P5 (£299/$349) standmounts, C10 centre channel (£249/$299) and T20 floorstander (£499/$599) use a new 19mm aluminium dome tweeter with neodymium magnet (placed below the woofer on the standmounts), a mid/bass driver with textured polypropylene cones and rubber surrounds, and a crossover with an Acoustic Linkwitz-Riley filter design.
ELAC Navis Series
What stands out not only in ELAC’s well-stocked suite but also in The Venetian is its all-new Navis powered speakers, the Navis ARB-51 standmount (£1795) and Navis ARF-51 floorstander (£3595).
A new midrange/tweeter design sees a 1in soft dome tweeter concentrically mounted in the middle of a 4in aluminium midrange driver, and also new is the 5.25in aluminium cone bass driver(s) that sits below it. Each speaker houses tri-amp amplification, with a 160-watt amp for the bass woofer, 100-watt amp for the midrange and a 40-watt Class AB amp for the tweeter.
GoldenEar Technology Triton One.R
Now for some serious speaker engineering from GoldenEar Technology. The Triton One.Rs are the newest addition to the brand’s flagship Triton Series of tower speakers, and have been designed to make the distinct form factor and top-end technologies of the $8000+ Titan Reference (where the range culminates) more accessible with a smaller build and cheaper price. With more than a handful of drivers, and integrated 1600-watt powered subwoofers, they need to be seen and heard.
Audioengine A2+ Wireless
Just as it'd done previously with its A5+ speakers, Audioengine has made wireless versions of its A2+ bookshelf speakers. The logically named A2+ Wireless are desktop-friendly powered speakers with aptX Bluetooth streaming, in addition to 3.5mm, RCA and USB inputs.
It’s certainly a more streamline option than plugging the brand’s W3 wireless dongle into a pair of passive speakers, and should appeal not only for their compact, smart form but also their humble $269 asking price.
TEAC AX-505 Reference Series
TEAC is adding two new amplifiers to its Reference Series range this year - one of which is the AX-505 integrated amp, which TEAC has launched at CES this week.
The 70-watt-per-channel AX-505 – $1500 and on sale this month – uses a Hypex Ncore power amplifier specifically tuned for TEAC, and is an analogue-only design with three pairs of analogue RCA inputs and one pair of balanced XLR sockets. Oh, and then there's those dual level volume meters, coupled to a four-step dimmable backlight...
It should come as little surprise that a speaker whose name takes after a hamlet from which the Aurora Borealis can regularly be seen (Tuktoyaktuk) is one of the most attractive speakers we've seen at CES.
With a sleek baffle and distinct AMT (Air Motion Transformer) tweeter, the minimalist active speakers from Canadian brand Kanto have everything a multimedia mogul could ever ask for: aptX HD Bluetooth, an integrated USB DAC, optical input, line-level RCA, and phono inputs for a turntable. And all for a rather respectful $799.