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.
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.”