CES 2016: That's a Wrap!
Personally, I hate CES. Professionallyand I don't enjoy admitting this to myselfit's pretty awesome. On the personal side, it hangs over your holiday season like a beast in a bib at your dining table waiting patiently to suck the blood of your festive mood through the long, spiraling, garish colored, plastic straw of a $24 carry-out Long Island Ice Tea from the Golden Nugget.
And then, right after you recover from your New Years celebratory hangover, along with 170,000 other consumer electronics professionals, you spend 25% of six days straight standing in Airline ticket counter lines, plane boarding lines, baggage claim areas, taxi lines, hotel registration lines, badge pick-up lines, shuttle bus lines, Starbucks lines, lines for show demos, lines at the restaurant for breakfast, and then more of the same getting out of Vegas and back home.
Lastly, after returning home and having one day of rest while it incubates, some germ from some snot nosed child of an Indonesian T.V. store owner manages to multiply into an all out raging assault on every mucous membrane in your head. Ah yes, four days of typing up reports though a blur of weepy vision with the waste bin at your side filling up as you burn through three rolls of toiletpaper emptying your head of the CES crud. Good times...not. I really do hate Vegas.
On the other hand, it is the place to load up on fresh product review ideas for the coming year. This coming week will be spent getting back in contact with folks I met at CES, pointing out my coverage, and requesting review samples. Here's a partial list in no particular order of product I'm interested in acquiring for review:
- Sennheiser HD 800S and HD 630VB
- Marshall Major II, Urbanears ADV Platten Wireless, and the Coloud No.16 low-cost cans
- Blue Microphone's Lola
- Audeze Sine
- Beyerdynamic T 51 i, DTX 350 m, and new T1
- Stax SR-L700 and SR-L500
- Audio Technica ATH-ANC50iS
- Engineering sample tips kit from Comply
- Jaybird Freedom and X3 fitness earphones
- Bragi Dash biometric sensing headphones
- MEE Pinnacle P1 Audiophile IEMs
- The entire Klipsch X-Series line-up
- House of Marley Rebel low-cost passive and bluetooth headphones
- Definitive Tech Symphony 1 headphone
- Sony h.ear $199 over-ear
- Sonus Faber Pryma fashion cans
- Master & Dynamic MW60
- High-end dual-driver Technics EAH-T700
- HiFiMAN Shangri-La electrostatic headphones
- Etymotic surprise introduction
- Mitchell & Johnson line-up
- NAD VISO HP30 on-ear and PSB M4U 4 in-ear
- Pass Labs HPA1
- The Manley Headphone Amplifier
- Bedphones...why not?
- Meze 99 Classic
CES also provides a pretty good snapshot of where headphones are and where they're going. It may be confirmation bias talking here (because I kind of expected this) but I thought the headphones I heard were generally a little better sounding this year than in years past. I'd like to think my headphone measurement program and that of hobbyists is putting some objective critical pressure on manufacturers, but I don't think that's really the case.
I think the reason headphones are sounding better is because there's been enough time for companies who are serious about headphones to have sorted through assembling decent development teams, and products from those teams are just now starting to show up. I see this also from a bit of an odd perspective: Most sales and marketing people manning the booth at consumer headphone makers like Zounds, Marley, SMS, and the like, don't have any idea who I am. They might read C|NET, but they certainly don't read the geeky stuff written on a small enthusiast publications like InnerFidelity. It seems the headphone engineers do, howeverthey almost all know of the headphone measurement database. For the last few years I've regularly been tapped on the shoulder at trade show booths by the acoustic engineers that design headphones for these companies. And it's been happening often enough that I've begun to get a sense of where these engineers fit in their company, and what and how their roll is and changes over time. Bottom line: The engineers are showing up at shows more and more because their companies want them to have direct connections and feedback with customers. I think the companies are developing an ever increasing appreciation for how directly the engineer's job is connected to the success of the headphones in this day of internet user and forum reviews.
Anyhow, I'm back and now recovered from the CES crud. I've got a lot of headphone measurements to catch up with, and you can expect an InnerFidelity Update with new measurements soon, and equipment reviews to follow. I hope you enjoyed the coverage!
353 days until we do it all over again. No problem...I can wait.