Two major trends emerged from CES 2017 in Las Vegas. OLED display technology seems to have won the favor of most 4K Ultra HD screen manufacturers, including Sony who introduced its first Bravia A1 models (55”, 66’, and 77”). Samsung is the only major brand to go against the current and is still refusing to purchase LG OLED screens.
Samsung is thus going to keep offering LCD 4K Ultra HD screens with LED backlighting. The brand’s Quantum Dot Color technology has been renamed QLED (Quantum LED). As a reminder, this display technology consists of LCD (Liquid-Crystal Display) film, backlit by white LEDs. The main drawback is the lack of depth in dark zones. OLED technology, for its part, doesn’t need a backlight as the organic LEDs (OLEDs) produce their own light and color. For a 4K Ultra HD TV, more than 8 million OLEDs are used. The level of contrast produced with OLED technology is breathtaking, and complete darkness can actually be reproduced (the OLEDs turn off completely).
Another interesting technology is the Sony Acoustic Surface used for the new Bravia televisions. This technology is used to create sound with transducers instead of drivers and makes the screen vibrate to produce sound waves. An idea which could improve the coherence between sounds and images by diffusing sound directly toward the viewer–for screens which are wide enough to allow for this.
Speaking of Sony, the Japanese brand should soon be releasing the Sony UBP-X800, its first 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player, for a very competitive price (about 400€). Ultra HD 10-bit HDR content and files stored on a flashdrive or USB HDD will be handled– with compatibility ensured for a wide variety of formats. The device will be Google Cast compatible for audio streaming and thereby provide access to online streaming platforms such as Qobuz, Deezer, Spotify and Tidal. The Sony UBP-X800 will be compatible with FLAC and DSD formats, as well as with SACDs.
Alexa, Amazon’s voice recognition and vocal command system, turned heads at CES 2017. It should be offered on many mainstream electronic components, including audio devices. By simply speaking to a wireless speaker, the user will be able to choose a song to listen to on Spotify, for example.
In the hi-fi department, CES 2017 was the occasion for Klipsch to introduce their new speakers, particularly the Klipsch Fifteens. These large, 2-way active speakers will feature a 15” (38 cm) medium-bass driver, a horn-loaded 2” tweeter and a 2×180 Watt amplification module.
Klipsch has announced that 2017 will see the return of the Klipsch Forte speaker, this time in its third iteration. The Klipsch Forte III should join Klipsch’s Heritage range. Its specifications are very attractives : a 3-way speaker and 15” passive radiator. Enough to make any high-end subwoofer pale in comparison.
In 2017, Technics plans to release the Grand Class SL-1200GR Direct-Drive high-end turntable, a simplified version of the Technics SL-1200 GEG featuring a Coreless motor. It should be sold for half the price of its predecessor.
Tidal has finally announced its compatibility with Meridian’s MQA HD audio format. As a reminder, this audio format is composed of a CD-quality base with added (compressed) metadata which allows for the restitution of studio-quality audio stream (24 bits/96 kHz, for example) with compatible devices (Pioneer XDP-100R, for example). MQA technology thus combines the compact size of a CD-quality file with the sound quality of a Hi-Res Audio file.
Last but not least, an unusual set of headphones featuring sound level meters on the earpieces, the Meters Music OV-1.This post is also available in: French