The bratwurst has been eaten, the beer steins drank, the broken German conversation exchanged and – most importantly – the dozens of brand-new products at IFA 2019 spied.
While the IFA convention is still underway (the last day is Wednesday 11th September), we have been at the Berlin show this week reporting on all the AV product announcements.
While TVs traditionally steal much of the IFA spotlight, as tends to be the case at CES too, this year has been a big show for audio, with the likes of Sonos, Sony, Sennheiser, Audio Technica and Dali unveiling landmark products across the wireless speaker, headphone and hi-fi categories. Even the biggest TV launches at the show, two flagship Philips OLED TVs, have a strong audio angle.
All our IFA 2019 news and highlights are just a click away, but below we've picked what we believe are the 10 most interesting new products of the lot...
Sonos Move speaker
Sonos revealed a trio of new products arriving this month, the most interesting of which is its highly anticipated, considerably leaked Move. The company's first-ever portable speaker officially marks its move outside of the home, combining a built-in battery with Bluetooth connectivity to make it a perfect partner for a picnic.
Very much part of the Sonos network ecosystem, too, it is also suitable for the home thanks to its wi-fi, multi-room, music service and Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa voice control features.
The Move isn't quite the battery pack-toting Sonos One we expected it to be – it's pretty big and, at £399, expensive – but is it everything we were hoping for? We've been hands-on to find out...
Dali iO-6 wireless headphones
Dali slipped out its first ever pairs of headphones, the iO-4 (£299) and Dali iO-6 (£399), at IFA 2019. They're both wireless with aptX HD Bluetooth, custom 50mm drivers and USB-C charging, but they prioritise different features.
The former sport an impressive 60 hours of battery life, whereas the latter have half that playback time but the added benefit of noise-cancelling technology. Natural born challengers to the reputable Sony, Bose, B&W and Sennheiser competition, the flagship iO-6s have quite the task on their hands – and we wish them every luck.
Sony NW-A100TPS Walkman
"New? But this thing looks 40 years old!" Aha, but that is the point! Sony has unveiled a retro Walkman to mark the iconic portable cassette player's 40th anniversary this year. It has nostalgic casing and special packing to pay homage to the original TPS-L2 Walkman, but the twist: it doesn't play tapes.
In fact, peeling back the front cover of the NW-A100TPS (not the catchiest name, eh?) reveals a digital audio player reminiscent of Sony's recent fare. The limited edition, £400 machine, expected in December, is powered by Android and has a 3.6-inch screen, 16GB memory and 26 hours of battery life.
It's a cool gimmick from Sony, although honestly we are rather more impressed by the other – and more serious – Walkman proposition announced at IFA, the £750 streaming Walkman NW-ZX507...
Sony SA-Z1 speaker system
IFA wouldn't be IFA without a slew of product announcements from Sony. And while it was the Walkman that had the most camera phones pointed at it, another particularly interesting product caught our beady eyes: the Sony SA-Z1.
A desktop speaker system arriving in spring 2020 for £6500, the SA-Z1 uses near-field technology with the aim of producing a large and enveloping soundstage even within the confines of a tight space where acoustics can be tricky.
The drivers are arranged in a coaxial layout to create an optimal timing alignment of the peaks of the soundwaves – controlled by Sony's unique algorithm and FPGA processor – and a better integration of the units. They're powered by the same DA Hybrid Amplifier Circuits from the Sony A-ZH1ES Signature Series headphones but aim to reduce distortion with a new GaN (Gallium Nitride) power semiconductor.
Philips OLED+984 4K TV
With most TV brands keeping announcements to a minimum at IFA this year (January's CES 2020 should be a big one, then), Philips was able to steal the TV spotlight with two new flagship OLEDs.
They both promise a visual feast with Philips' Ambilight and next-gen P5 picture processor, but the difference between them lies in their differing Bowers & Wilkins sound solutions. The OLED+934 boasts Atmos upward-firing speakers, while the OLED+984 has an all-singing-all-dancing speaker system to pay through the nose for.
The former is the most consumer friendly, with prices starting from £2200, but the audiophiles in us couldn't help but turn our attention to the statement model for a hands-on review...
Sennheiser Momentum Wireless headphones
The third instalment of Sennheiser's iconic noise-cancelling cans has arrived – and thank to an exclusive review we can already tell you that they're talented enough to trouble the class-leading competition and knock on the What Hi-Fi? Awards door.
"Superb noise-cancellers that enhance Sennheiser’s reputation", the Momentum Wireless (£349/$399.95) are an extraordinary effort by Sennheiser’s engineering team, marrying effective noise-cancellation with an energetic, rhythmic and insightful sound and enhanced usability features.
Audio Technica AT-LP5x turntable
The AT-LP5x direct-drive USB turntable is the direct successor to the AT-LP5, which won a What Hi-Fi? Award in 2016, the year it arrived, for its combination of entertaining, expressive performance and plug ‘n’ play convenience – so we've every reason to be delighted by its arrival.
You'd be forgiven for undermining the successor's progress based purely on aesthetics – it looks very similar to its predecessor, after all – but rest assured the Japanese brand has flourished it with a raft of upgrades, such as a new power supply and 78rpm support. Rather than carry over the LP5’s AT95E cartridge, the LP5x utilises the next-generation model, the AT-VM95E cartridge, too.
This is definitely one we look forward to testing very soon.
Samsung QE55Q950R 8K TV
A year ago, news of Samsung launching an 8K QLED TV was huge. But here we are in late 2019 and the Korean brand already has a healthy offering of 8K QLED models in its repertoire. Still, they're all big-screens in 65in, 75in and 82in sizes – so the news that a 55in is slotting in beneath them is small but significant news.
The smallest and, at £2999, most affordable in Samsung’s current Q950R range (Q900R in the US), it gets the same AI upscaling and 8K Quantum processor that powers the rest of the line, together with HDR10 and HDR10+ support as standard.
Braun Audio LE speakers
As we reported back in July, Braun Audio is bringing back its famous LE speaker range after a 28 year absence – and full details of the line-up have been released at IFA.
There are three models in the range: the £1099/$1199 LE01, £749/$799 LE02 and £349/$379 LE03, all going on sale in October.
Technical highlights include the use of bespoke DSP (digital signal processing), Balanced Mode Radiators (BMRs) and custom designed, low-profile aluminium woofers combined with customised passive bass radiators. They can be used in both vertical and horizontal orientation, and boast the full works of wireless speaker features: multi-room, hi-res, Chromecast, Apple Airplay 2, Google Assistant voice control and Bluetooth.
Anker Nebula Soundbar - Fire TV Edition
In what was Amazon's largest product launch to date, the retail giant announced a 2nd generation Fire TV Cube, a raft of new Fire TV Edition televisions (including an OLED model) and, as you can see here, a Fire TV Edition soundbar.
Amazon has partnered with Anker for the Nebula Soundbar - Fire TV Edition, which will go on sale for £180/$230 when it starts shipping next month. The budget soundbar supports 4K HDR and Dolby Vision passthrough, sports its own smart TV interface and boasts the ability to use Alexa to control apps and power up (or down) your system through the supplied voice remote. You can even add it to a multi-room system through the Alexa mobile app.