CES 2012: That's a wrap!

The Bad
Fakeness - There's a whole lot of that at CES and Las Vegas. Sure, sometimes it's fun to pretend and let your imagination go. But sometimes it's just hype and baloney to make a buck. I don't like being a John or a dupe. I don't like how much of that comes at you at CES.

Sometimes it's wrapped so hard in the business of doing business it's hard to know what to think about it. Take these guys. Look carefully.


They're working on a deal in the Barbie booth. My head just doesn't know how to process that.

Am I part of the problem? - CES is an enormous outpouring of our gluttonously consumptive society. I find no solace in my impression that at least half the products in the vast Las Vegas Convention Center were 21st century plastic trinkets for the masses. I find less solace in trying to untangle myself from being part of it. I tell myself I do it in service of the music, but it's not that simple. I am entangled in consumer electronics.

Enormity - When I worked at HeadRoom, we'd cheer ourselves on all year long, working hard on delivering good headphone listening, and feeling like we were making headway and growing. And then I'd go to Vegas for CES and realize that just the meal expenses for the Sony employees there was more than our gross profit for the year. It was harsh to be smacked upside the head with how small you are.

Exhaustion - The sheer enormity and congestion of the place is exhausting. I must have walked 6 miles through a butt-to-muzzle pedestrian crush. And loud, good grief, the noise alone will leave you numb by the end of the day.

Yeah, CES can be harsh.

The Good
Interesting People - Just like I can't extract myself fully from the gluttonous frenzy, I find so many other interesting and lively people working passionately on gadgets. I'm a geek and I get that. I love gadgets. And I tend to enjoy being around other people who like gadgets too. They're fun to talk to; they tend to know a lot of interesting things; and they tend to be a bit nutso in a charming sort of way ... to me, anyhow. I like being around people who think about gadgets, so CES is cool that way.

Cool Gadgets - Speaking of gadgets, there were some very cool gadgets at the show. I didn't see it, but Jerry Harvey told me about a device that inflates a little balloon in your ear, and then does a laser scan of the inside of the balloon while it's in your ear to create a computerized 3D impression of the inside of your ear for custom in-ear headphones and hearing aids. Really sorry I missed that one.

I did make it to the AfterShokz bone conduction headphone booth. These are a little headphone that have a transducer that rests on your cheekbone and gets sound to your middle and inner ear through bone conduction and not via the ear canal and eardrum. I didn't think the fidelity was very good at all, but it did work. When you played big bass notes loud it felt like you had butterflies taped to your cheek, though.

CES2012_oddsnends_photo_pressroomBeing Press - Holy smoke, I tell you what, if you have to do CES, doing it as press is the way to go. Your ticket is free; you get a special place to register with no lines; you get special press rooms with free internet access, coffee, bagels in the morning, a meal at lunch, and you get a dandy little backpack. Kinda makes you feel like they're putting on the show for you.

Telling You Stories - The most fun thing of all for me was that I was there to tell you the story. Very early on I figured out that I'd never be able to see everything, so I was on a mission to find things that seemed interesting, experience them, and then tell you about it. I really just wanted to have fun with my time there and sort of take you along for the ride. That's been a very invigorating process for me: take a nice picture; experience the gear; do a little video; and write up the story to tie it all together. I feel like a novice quite a bit, but I'm also having fun. Thank you, dear readers, for being here and coming along for the ride. I promise to keep working at it.

Being Done! - Yeah, baby, that feels really good.

There's a tradition here in Bozeman. That grizzly bear statue in the airport pictured in the start this CES report is in the baggage claim area. Locals will rub is toes to express our gratitude for being back home.

So nice to be done and home!


Thanks for reading!!!

Merck's picture

I thoroughly enjoyed your coverage of CES 2012. It looks like you had fun with it and that is what is most important. I look forward to seeing how the new gear you have measures. Keep up the great work Tyll!

jediz's picture

First of all, I would like to thank you Tyll !
For past weeks I've got a habit each day read from you about CES 2012.
Every day there's something new, this is great, you've got an awesome charisma.
Jennifer from last video on Philips booth(10 minutes of pleasure),she was a most positive girl on CES, and she's words like "balanced, resonance" got affected on me like from proffesional also beautiful reviewer)) I'm completely ready to go to buy some new Philips stuff!
There's too lot work for measure, after CES 2012. Hope you find most of it enjoyable!
From my side wish - strength and health to you!

RPGWiZaRD's picture

Just wanted to thank you for the interesting coverage which I kept checking daily for the updates from other booths. Very interested as usual to see measurements of the new headphones you talked about measuring.

plin's picture

Thank you for your hard work and sincere love of good sound and gadgets. Love your comments about the 'bad aspects' of current audio industry and general consumerism. NO you certainly are not part of the problem. Keep up the good stuff!

13mh13's picture

Tyll ... tyllin' like it is ... u da renaissance man ...!
CES=unnecessary in the Internet age. Seriously ... even in low doses, interfacing with "The Industry" is, for me, asking a LOT. Heck, I was UNIMPRESSED by even HeadRoom @ CES (their performance on Tyll's vid, not T's effective coverage ;), even tho' they've gotten much of my past head-biz. Glad you (Tyll) left The Ind. and went Indie ;) If only Jude/Head-Fi were as auspicious about promoting headphone and related-technology SCIENCE.
The election is comin' up ... how about runnin', T? ... you've got my vote.

droilfade's picture

Dear Sir,

I would like to thank you for your coverage of the CES-2012. Your coverage was complete,comprehensive and in detail. I also find your fair views and frank bashing criticism of all things bad, very pleasing. I am sure in the days to follow you will want to dissect and scrutinize the headphones you found here and put them to the test. I would also like to thank you for your hard work and prompt coverage. I hope you have a good rest. I'd be interested to know what headphones made it to your wall of fame.

With best regards,

A Geek.

evo123's picture

There's no doubt that Apple has not only transformed computers but also marketing techniques which enable product users to love and be more loyal to the brand..It's important that Apple keeps pushing awareness of new updates to their users. However, it's no surprise that the marketing outlet of television commercials which reaches the mass majority of their users is beginning to be ignored. TV viewers, especially viewers who already own iPhone and iPad devices are slowly starting to ignore the standard Apple commercials as shown above. The time for an existing Apple device user to realize an update is available is not as prominent as in the beginning of the iPhone era.