CES 2018 Recap
Our trip to Las Vegas for CES 2018 started with two days of rain -- the first rainfall in 140 days in Las Vegas (apparently a record). We’ve now been back for just under a week, having traded in rain for snow here in North Carolina, and thought it would be the perfect time to do a recap of some of the best things we heard and saw at CES 2018.
Tour of Zappos HQ
The Audio Advice team is committed to always delivering exceptional customer experiences. It’s the reason we get out of bed every morning. Helping people discover or build on their love of music listening is a passion, and we do everything we can every day to make sure our customers know how much they mean to us.
Zappos and its CEO, Tony Hsieh, are known for the way they take care of their customers. Hsieh’s book, Delivering Happiness, is a best-seller that has solidified Zappos’ reputation as a leader in customer experience.
As a learning organization, we’re always looking for ways to improve. Our team arrived a day early so that we could take a tour of Zappos headquarters in downtown Las Vegas and learn about how they make Zappos a place that both their customers and team members love.
We also had an opportunity to have dinner with the Audeze team and had a great time getting to know them. They’re an awesome group. We love partnering with brands that are not only blazing trails in their space, but are also genuinely good people. We feel great about the partnership with Audeze and look forward to a big 2018.
While these are sure to be a hit, we’re most excited about Audioengine’s announcement of a wireless version of their best-selling A5+ powered bookshelf speaker. The A5+ has been a favorite of the Audio Advice team since we first partnered with Audioengine, and adding a wireless capability to this already incredible speaker is bound to turn some heads. The new A5+ Wireless uses AptX HD technology and can transmit signals up to 24/48.
The A5+ Wireless will retail for $499/pair in black or white and $569/pair in their bamboo finish. The new Wireless A5+ looks very similar to the current A5+, but the tweeter is now centered rather than offset.
Audioengine is known for their great build quality, easy setup, and impressive value. Their team is committed to only adding features when they can be done without detracting from the quality of their product and the experience their customers get.
We already have a pair of the new Audioengine A5+ wireless speakers in-hand and can’t stop listening to them. We’ll be doing a review of the A5+ wireless in the coming weeks and plan to include an interesting history of the evolution of Audioengine’s A5.
Every time Chord releases a new product, the audio community takes notice. In the coming weeks, we will be receiving our first shipment of the Chord Qutest. The Qutest is a DAC that replaced the 2Qute but is based on the architecture of the award-winning Hugo 2.
It is a pure DAC and does not include a headphone amplifier or rechargeable batteries. It's designed to improve the sound quality in your home audio system and is not meant to be a portable DAC like the Hugo 2. The Qutest should begin shipping sometime in the next month. Be on the lookout for a full written and video review of the Qutest very soon.
A recent addition to the Audio Advice family, ELAC has made an incredible name for themselves in the audio community in only a few short years.
While all of their products are fantastic, their new line of powered speakers, called Argo, may be their most exciting products yet. The Argo B51 is a pair of powered bookshelf speakers and the Argo F51 are floor standing. Designed by world-renowned speaker designer, Andrew Jones, the Argo hits the sweet spot that ELAC has become known for -- beautiful speakers that sound incredible, at an unbeatable value.
The B51 is expected to retail around $2,000/pair and the F51 will be around $5,000/pair. They are available in a beautiful wood veneer as well as gloss black or gloss white finishes. We don’t have a clear timeline for when these will be released, but we expect they will be extremely popular.
Watch our video below to learn more about the Argo from Andrew Jones himself.
In the coming weeks, ELAC will also begin shipping the ELAC Discovery Z3, a 140-watt wireless speaker designed to stream all of your favorite music with Spotify Connect, Roon, Discovery Connect, and Bluetooth, directly from your smartphone or tablet.
Don’t let it’s small size and elegant form factor fool you. The Discovery Z3 includes separate amplifiers for each of it’s custom design 4-inch Aramid-fiber bass drivers and each 1-inch soft-dome tweeter. It also includes two 4-inch passive radiators.
One of the most respected manufacturers in the high-performance audio world, Focal has now built a name for themselves in exploding headphone space. Their high-performance models, including the flagship Utopia, Elear, and the newly released Clear have all been huge hits for the company.
When we reviewed their wireless over-ear headphones, the Listen Wireless, we called them a "Beats killer." At the $300 price point, there is simply no better option for the critical listener. They've only solidified our opinion with the announcement that the Listen Wireless will soon be available in a few new colors. With a sleek anodized look, this is sure to take an even bigger bite out of the wireless headphone market.
While we were there, we also got a chance to see the Focal Utopia by Tournaire, a striking $120,000 headphone including 18 karat gold earcups and 6 carats worth of diamonds.
CES 2018 marks one year since we began working with our friends at Kanto. They were one of our new brand partners coming out of last years show, and they are poised for a very exciting 2018!
First, they announced the upcoming Kanto SYD, a home audio speaker featuring two 4-inch woofers and two 1-inch silk dome tweeters. It essentially looks like two Kanto YU4 powered bookshelf speakers, laid on their side in a single cabinet. The SYD has the same rounded studio monitor look as the YU series and even includes an Optical input, allowing you to use the SYD not only as a system for home music listening, but also to improve the sound of your TVs built-in speakers. We wouldn’t classify it as a soundbar due to a lack of decoding capabilities, but it’s a great multi-purpose speaker and fits in nicely with their lineup. The SYD should begin shipping sometime in the late spring or early summer.
Kanto will also be releasing new colors of their S2 speaker stands (rose gold is sure to be a favorite) which pair perfectly with the YU2. They will also now have the S4 available which is maid to pair with the YU4 and will be available in the same colors as the S2.
As is the case with some of our other partners, Kanto has a few more tricks up their sleeve for 2018, but we have to keep them under wraps for now.
Our friends at Pro-Ject had a few exciting announcements this year at CES 2018 including some new electronics, special edition turntables, and more. We could dig into the details, but honestly, we can't say it any better than Jeff from Pro-Ject Audio Systems. Check out the videos below to learn more about what Pro-Ject has in store for 2018.
New Brand Partnerships!
There will be more specifics in the coming weeks and months, but our team had some very exciting meetings with key brands that our customers have been asking for. As you know, we curate our entire selection of products, and we can’t wait to unveil some of the newest members of the Audio Advice family.
A combination of our 40-year history and the fact that AudioAdvice.com is the fastest growing audio consumer electronics online dealer in the US, has opened some doors for us that are going to make for a very exciting 2018. Stay tuned and thanks for joining us on this journey!