AU­DIO CUTS THE CORD

If 2014 was the in­tro­duc­tion of High Res­o­lu­tion Au­dio to the main­stream, 2015 will be the year of qual­ity wire­less au­dio.

HWM (Singapore) - - THINK - by Mar­cus Wong

The buzz for au­dio prod­ucts at CES 2015 re­mains very much on High Res­o­lu­tion Au­dio (HRA) cou­pled with wire­less tech­nolo­gies, with new wire­less mod­els from AKG, Sennheiser, Sony, and Onkyo all on show. While wire­less head­phones are not new, they seem to be more pre­dom­i­nant this year, per­haps in­di­cat­ing that there is in­deed value to less clut­ter. That’s es­pe­cially ev­i­dent when you look at the multi-room au­dio streamer seg­ment. Once the sole domain of Sonos, many main­stream mak­ers have since re­leased their own of­fer­ings, mak­ing it eas­ier than ever to have a speaker in ev­ery room, all con­trolled from a sin­gle de­vice. Play a dif­fer­ent song on each, or have all the speak­ers play the same song to­gether; the in­tro­duc­tion of tech­nolo­gies like Google Cast will make it eas­ier for th­ese songs to come from the cloud or just any smart de­vice.

Ex­pect to see more stream­ing ser­vices of­fer­ing HRA stream­ing in the com­ing years, which means we will also need wire­less tech­nolo­gies that bet­ter sup­port the band­width that HRA de­mands. Sony may have a head start there with their new LDAC Blue­tooth codec. Sup­pos­edly three times more ef­fi­cient than the pre­vi­ous Blue­tooth tech­nol­ogy, this al­lows it to bet­ter sup­port the band­width needed for high-res­o­lu­tion au­dio files, and it’ll be in­ter­est­ing to see if this be­comes a stan­dard, or if the other mak­ers launch their own band­width ef­fi­cient codecs.

HRA has also left room for a re­vival of por­ta­ble me­dia play­ers, as un­like mo­bile phones which get bogged down by games and pho­tos, th­ese play­ers ba­si­cally of­fer ded­i­cated stor­age just for au­dio, as well as higher qual­ity DACs (Dig­i­tal Ana­log Con­vert­ers) that bet­ter cater to au­dio­philes. Large on­board mem­ory and a mem­ory card slot for easy ex­pan­sion, as well as Wi-Fi/net­work sup­port to ac­cess var­i­ous stream­ing ser­vices should be the norm in this year’s de­vices.

Fi­nally, in­te­grated sound pro­cess­ing tech­nolo­gies are also be­ing in­cor­po­rated into the head­phones it­self, like Par­rot’s Zik Sport ear­phones (which fea­ture 32-bit sound pro­cess­ing) and the im­pres­sive Neoh head­phones by 3D Sound Labs, which use mo­tion sen­sors and the way we per­ceive sound to recre­ate the ef­fect of three-di­men­sional sound in your head.

"EX­PECT TO SEE MORE STREAM­ING SER­VICES OF­FER­ING HRA STREAM­ING IN THE COM­ING YEARS, WHICH MEANS WE WILL ALSO NEED WIRE­LESS TECH­NOLO­GIES THAT BET­TER SUP­PORT THE BAND­WIDTH THAT HRA DE­MANDS.”

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