Sound & Vision CES 2024 Editor’s Picks

Introducing Sound & Vision CES 2024 Editor's Picks! Every year, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas sets the stage for the latest trends in audiovisual (AV) technology, serving as a prime platform for companies to unveil and exhibit their newest products, technologies, and services to an international audience.

CES 2024 was bustling, as expected. Selecting twenty-two Editor's Pick winners required extensive exploration, including tons of walking (10 miles a day), monorail rides, and plenty of observation and listening. However, it's important to note that these selections are based on show demonstrations rather than in-depth reviews. They are inherently subjective.

I navigated the vast Las Vegas Convention Center and visited off-site displays at various casinos. The result is this roundup, featuring items ranging from those still in development to those poised for release this year.

Having attended CES for over a decade, I've grown familiar with the rhythms of the event. A company's decision to withhold certain products can be as revealing as its exhibits. At CES 2024, ongoing shifts in the AV and home entertainment sectors were readily apparent. The two-channel audio segment, once a CES staple, is totally gone. And yet, a show highlight included new Ultra Evolution series flagship speakers from SVS and a revamped Aria Evo X series from Focal.

Television displays were prominently featured by Hisense and TCL and touched upon by LG and Samsung. Samsung impressed with a striking microLED display and a glasses-free 3D lightfield gaming monitor that performed exceptionally well. Its glare-free matte OLEDs, though not displayed publicly (shown in a private room), also garnered attention. LG showcased innovative, transparent wireless OLED technology. Meanwhile, Sony's booth concentrated on filmmaking tools.

Projectors maintained a presence, yet were overshadowed by enormous TVs, one from TCL measuring 115 inches. Nonetheless, a high-performance standard-throw projector from XGIMI, the Horizon Max, got my attention and represents the vanguard of a new breed of high-performance portable projectors with home theater aspirations. Hisense continued to excel in the ultra-short-throw (UST) projector category, presenting new screen options and a light steering technology demo in collaboration with Barco. It was interesting to contrast the USTs with the 110-inch TV in the same booth.

A brief note on these selections: Given the nature of CES, some products are prototypes or still in development, leaving their release dates and pricing uncertain. The Editor's Picks are based on initial impressions from the show floor, relying on instinct and a keen sense for what's innovative, promising, and indicative of future trends in AV technology.

Though the CES expo has concluded, its influence will resonate throughout the year. Let's delve into some of the products and technologies that distinguished themselves in our Editor's Picks for CES 2024, presented here in alphabetical order.


Arcam Radia A25 Bluetooth Integrated Stereo Amplifier

The Arcam Radia A25 stands out as a sleek and smart integrated stereo amplifier. Combining traditional audiophile performance with modern connectivity, it offers impressive power output in a slim and modern package, ensuring a high-quality audio experience for discerning listeners.

Featuring a solid build and an intuitive interface, the Radia A25 is compatible with a wide range of speakers, making it a versatile choice for any audio setup. Priced at $1,499, it is available now.


Auro CX Scalable Audio Codec

Auro Technologies wows with its cutting-edge streaming audio solution that offers a dynamic, immersive sound experience, adapting to various content types for optimized audio quality—even at low bitrates. Auro CX allows streaming to deliver a lifelike audio experience that immerses listeners in the heart of the action.

The only catch is that Auro has to compete with Dolby and DTS. Whether it can find the partnerships needed to gain real traction remains to be seen. But the technology itself? It performed as advertised at the demo, both with a system comprised of separate speakers plus an AV processor as well as a soundbar. That's what earned it an Editor's Pick.


Focal Aria EVO-X Speakers

Since its 2013 debut, the Aria loudspeaker range has evolved, incorporating Focal's advanced technologies like the TNF tweeter and Flax cone. The latest Aria series features the TAM, an aluminum/magnesium 'M'-shaped inverted dome tweeter for enhanced treble reproduction and reduced interference. Other updates include the Tuned Mass Damper (TMD) in midrange drivers, an improved woofer magnet for stronger bass, and upgraded crossovers for better balance and durability.

The Aria Evo X series includes stand-mounts, floorstanders, and a center channel. The speakers are designed to meet the varied requirements of audiophiles.

The series starts with the Aria EvoX N°1, a bookshelf speaker with a front-ported design for flexibility in placement near walls. The lineup also includes three floor-standing models: the N°2 with two 6.5-inch bass drivers, the N°3 with three 6.5-inch drivers, and the flagship N°4 featuring two 8-inch bass drivers. Each floor-standing model incorporates a two-port design, with a front port for solid, punchy bass and a down-firing port for extended sub-bass response.

Set for February 2024 release, the Aria Evo X series offers varied pricing: N°1 at $2,398/pair, N°2 at $4,798/pair, N°3 at $5,198/pair, N°4 at $5,998/pair, and the Center speaker at $999.


Hisense & Barco Light-Steering UST Projector Prototype

A collaboration between Hisense and Barco has resulted in a groundbreaking ultra-short-throw projector prototype. It combines Hisense's expertise in displays and consumer UST projection with Barco's renowned projection expertise.

As its name implies the technology is able to steer light from the light source to where it is needed. The result has much brighter highlights from the same light source as a conventional projector, which is beneficial for HDR. Although still in prototype stage, this technology is set to revolutionize what viewers can expect from projection by delivering TV-like peak brightness levels.


Hisense 110UX 110-inch Mini-LED TV

Hisense continues to push the boundaries of home entertainment with its 110UX, a 110-inch Mini-LED TV. This massive television features advanced mini-LED FALD backlight technology, offering exceptional contrast, deep blacks, and vibrant colors.

Its sheer size, combined with cutting-edge picture quality—it can reproduce 95% of the BT.2020 color space and sports 40,000 dimming zones—makes it a centerpiece for any high-end home entertainment setup. The 110UX is not just about size; it's about delivering a cinematic experience right in your living room. It is expected to be available in late 2024, but its price has yet to be revealed.


Hisense 8K Sonic Screen

One of the top complaints that home theater enthusiasts have about TVs and ultra-short-throw projectors is that the sound does not come from the screen itself. Enter the new 8K Sonic Screen from Hisense. With Sonic Screen technology, which uses 100,000 "sound units", the entire ultra-short-throw projection screen is the speaker. In this case. Thematically, it goes along with the fact that UST projection is moving into the 8K arena. It also shows that Hisense is committed to expanding the capabilities of ultra-short throw projection.


Hisense C1 Pro Trichroma RGB Laser Portable Projector

Take what's great about the C1 Trichroma RGB laser released last year and boost it's output so it competes with dedicated home theater projectors, and you get the Hisense C1 Pro. 240 Hz, 2350 ANSI lumens and 3D support are all packed in a portable cube.

At CES, Hisense showcased the ability to combine the output of two projectors to achieve an ultra-wide image. Pricing and availability are not yet available.


Hisense Motorized Rollable Fresnel Laser TV Screen

Hisense showed a motorized rollable Fresnel Laser TV screen, combining high-brightness ambient light-rejecting ultra-short-throw (UST) screen technology with convenience and style. This screen expands when in use and retracts into a low-profile casing when not, preserving room aesthetics.

Designed specifically for laser TVs (i.e. USTs), the screen enhances UST contrast under bright lighting conditions, providing a premium viewing experience. The motorized mechanism is smooth and quiet. Availability and pricing to be confirmed at a future date.


Hisense Ultra-Black Screen Technology

The idea behind Hisense Ultra black screen technology is to improve black levels achievable with UST projectors by optimizing the screen itself. Utilizing a proprietary anti-glare coating increases the screen's ability to convert projector light into an image that you can see.

The result is a more dynamic range and deeper blacks. Perceptually, that translates to both a more cinematic picture when the lights are out as well as a more TV-like picture with some light in the room.


JBL L42MS Speaker System

This integrated music system from JBL is positioned by the company as an upgrade to a standard soundbar. It is the smaller version of the L75ms. It's filled with connected capabilities, both corded and wireless. What JBL showcased at CES is its ability to work in conjunction with Samsung SmartThings home automation. A single command triggers electric blinds and the lights dim, while the speaker handles surround-sound playback.

Simple, elegant and effective, the L42ms is already available to purchase with a MSRP of $999.


Klipsch Flexus Core 200 Soundbar

This soundbar is a sleek, high-performance audio solution for your home entertainment system. Naturally, it delivers Klipsch's signature sound quality, with clear highs, detailed mids, and deep bass, all in a compact and stylish package. But it goes beyond that, thanks to its partnership with Onkyo.

What Klipsch offers here is a modular soundbar system with high performance and modest pricing. A key feature is the inclusion of Dirac Live room correction, which is quite a bit more sophisticated than the room correction you typically find in a soundbar.

This capability is bolstered by compatibility with up to two of the company's wireless Flexus Sub 100 subwoofers (see below). And the soundbar also has a subwoofer output for a wired connection to the subwoofer of your choice. These are all features you would typically find on an AVR, but not in a soundbar, which speaks to the value that Onkyo brings to the equation. It's an excellent choice for those seeking an upgrade in sound without the complexity of a full AVR/sub/speaker setup. Wireless Atmos surrounds are also available for the Flexus ecosystem.


Klipsch Flexus Sub 100 Wireless Soundbar Subwoofer

The reasonably priced wireless Flexus Sub 100 works with the Core 100 and Core 200 soundbars announced by Klipsch at CES. The Flexus Core soundbars support up to two of the Sub 100 subwoofers.

In addition to its wireless capability, this subwoofer has a traditional RCA input, making it usable with more than just this soundbar system. The MSRP is set at $299, with availability expected in April 2024.


Klipsch Music City Series Cordless Bluetooth Speakers

Music City Series speakers are designed for durability and convenience. They boast an IP67 dust and waterproof rating, making them ideal for travel and outdoor activities. Each speaker can be submerged up to one meter for 30 minutes without damage.

The series also features long-lasting batteries, providing 12 to 24 hours of playtime on a single charge, depending on the model. For added customization, the Klipsch Connect app allows users to adjust EQ settings and receive over-the-air firmware updates. The Music City Series also introduces Broadcast Mode, enabling users to play music on multiple Klipsch Music City speakers simultaneously, creating an immersive audio experience for any gathering.


LG OLED Signature T Transparent Wireless OLED 77" TV

Showcased at CES 2024, the OLED Signature T represents a novel advancement in display technology, merging the realms of wireless and transparent design.

This innovative TV offers a breathtaking transparent screen that converts into a normal OLED TV on command to deliver stunning visuals. When in transparent mode, it offers a unique futuristic aesthetic, and the wireless function ensures you don't see cable clutter when it is transparent. The price is not yet set, but LG's latest 77" TV is expected to ship as an actual product later this year.


Samsung Lightfield Glasses-Free 3D Gaming Monitor

Samsung introduced a groundbreaking 2D/3D convertible gaming monitor. This panel doubles as a standard 24-inch desktop monitor and an advanced 3D gaming display. In its standard mode, it functions as a typical monitor for daily tasks. When switched to 3D mode, it offers a glasses-free 3D experience. Slightly thicker than conventional LCD or LED monitors, it incorporates lightfield technology enhanced by eye tracking.

Two sensors at the top of the bezel track the user's head and eye movements. An AI system adjusts the pixel array in real-time, aligning with the viewer's perspective to create a dynamic 3D effect. Cool as it is, Samsung does not have pricing or a release date.


Samsung Micro-LED Technology

I'm finally ready to sing the praises of microLED because, at CES 2024, Samsung showed it has completely conquered the issue of visible tiles or a visible grid. Because microLED is modular, the tiles that comprise the screen need to fit together perfectly, and Samsung described the means with which it has achieved this, which include optical alignment of the pixels on the edges of the tiles at a microscopic level during assembly, combined with a calibration routine that ensures the pixels are perfectly matched at those transitional seams.

Because there is a physical seam, what Samsung does is apply an anti-reflective coating to the edge of each tile. Samsung appears to have fixed the main flaw of the technology because, no matter how closely and carefully I examined this year's microLEDs, the tiles appeared to be one continuous panel. Considering the price of these panels, the bottom line is that this is the single most important advancement as far as consumer applications for the technology are concerned. Pricing is high and dependent on screen size, but this is the cutting edge.


Samsung S95D Quantum Dot OLED with Matte Screen

Samsung introduces 'OLED Glare Free' technology in the S95D, reducing reflections and preserving color and sharpness, even in daylight. The S95D features advanced picture-quality engines, the brightest OLED screen from Samsung, and high refresh rates up to 144Hz for smooth motion in sports and gaming.

There is no photo of the TV and award because the demo I attended at CES was private and held in a room where no photography was allowed. I was very impressed by its performance; it is very similar to Samsung's The Frame. It effectively eliminates the phenomenon of TVs reflecting bright light sources.

Pricing and availability is yet to be revealed. But the picture quality improvement provided by the matte screen is obvious.


SVS Ultra Evolution Series Speakers

SVS introduced its Ultra Evolution Series at CES 2024, marking the largest and most momentous product launch in its history. The series includes eight models: three towers, two bookshelves, a height effect speaker, and a center channel speaker. SVS says these speakers are designed to cater to both home theater and high-end two-channel audio needs, bringing reference sound experiences to more people by offering performance and technologies at price points previously unattainable relative to the performance achieved.

Key features include dual opposing woofers in self-contained ported sub cabinets, a time-aligned front baffle, and a new vapor-mist diamond-coated aluminum dome tweeter. The lineup is designed to provide authoritative yet accurate bass in any room by minimizing the influence of room modes.

Prices for the Ultra Evolution Series range from $899 for the smaller bookshelf model to $5,000 for the top-tier tower pair with availability expected within the next couple of months.


TCL 115QM89-1G 115-inch TV

This 115-inch miniLED TV offers a larger than ever viewing area and bleeding-edge picture quality. It uses "Mini LED Ultimate" full-array local dimming backlight technology for high brightness, replicating real-world light intensity with HDR content.

The TV features a backlight array with up to 20,000 control zones for clear display of both bright and dark scenes. Powered by the TCL AIPQ ULTRA processor, it ensures effective image processing. The TV also includes Quantum Dot QLED color technology for vibrant colors in different lighting.

For gaming, it supports 4K at 144Hz plus AMD FreeSync™ Premium certification and offers a peerless sense of immersion due to it's enormous dimensions. TCL says it will ship this year and it will cost less than $20,000.


TCL 98QM851-G 98-inch TV

If a 115-inch TV is a bit too much, the 98-inch QM8 still offers epic scale, superb specs, and visibly impressive performance. It has more than 5,000 dimming zones and 5,000 nits of peak brightness, which comes in handy for reproducing 4,000-nit Dolby Vision mastered content.

The QM8 offers an anti-glare screen for consistent contrast in various lighting conditions and a 2.1.2-channel speaker system with Dolby Atmos. It's a TV that makes it perfectly clear that the "100-inch class" TVs are the new 85-inch. Expect pricing and availability information soon.


Victrola Sapphire Turntable

Victrola expands its selection of wirelessly connected Hi-Fi turntables. The new Stream Sapphire is aimed at the custom install channel and is the most premium offering yet from the company.

The Sapphire is priced at $1,499.99 and it has the ability to connect with Sonos, UPnP, and Roon. Aesthetically it's upgraded as well, sporting a walnut veneer plinth. Performance is boosted with an upgraded cartridge, the Ortofon 2M Blue. Victrola simply states that it is coming soon.


XGIMI Aladdin Projector/Speaker/Ceiling Light

I have no idea if this will actually catch on but at first glance a combination ceiling light, speaker, and ceiling-mount short-throw projector seems like a good idea. Obviously not for dedicated home theater, this is for casual use. On the technical side it's not even 4K; it's a 1080p projector.

But what it offers is a simple installation, no different than a regular ceiling light. It also looks like a ceiling light. And it features a Harman-Kardon speaker system with 360-degree dispersion. It can function as a speaker even when it's not operating as a projector. I can see this going over really well in a kid's bedroom or in a basement hangout.


XGIMI Horizon Max Projector

This is the most exciting projector that I saw at CES. It's an absolute powerhouse in terms of capability, with a 3,100 ISO lumen rating as the headliner. The light engine produces saturated, color-accurate images. Considering it's slated to ship at a $3,000 MSRP and sports IMAX Enhanced certification—demoed at CES on a 180-inch screen—there's really nothing else quite like it.

Not only is the Horizon Max a promising home theater projector, but it also has a novel motorized gimbal stand and is capable of self-rotating and adjusting where and how it projects the image. It can adapt to the room by mapping objects and figuring out where and how to project.


xMEMS Cypress Headphone Technology

Last but certainly not least is this new headphone technology that relies on a solid-state transducer (as opposed to mechanical). xMEMS speakers are micro-speakers with many favorable qualities and are already available om some earbud products, but are typically used as tweeters in two-way designs.

Cypress takes a new approach. It has the ability to use ultrasonic sound modulation to create deep bass. This capability will be leveraged to create ever-smaller, high-fidelity earbuds with even more effective noise-canceling capabilities than ever. Products coming in 2025.

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