We walked miles through the coolest tech on the planet. Saw the newest products and innovations. Met a lot of amazing people. We are sad that CEDIA EXPO 2014 has come to a close. We believe this year held some long-lasting industry trends such as high-resolution audio and laser projection. We were introduced to new innovations like Dolby Atmos which offered us the most memorable experiences of the show. Here is part one of our re-cap from this year’s CEDIA EXPO:
This seemed to be the standout trend of all the major brands. With a multi-room audio system you can play music in any room in your home without having to have speakers built into walls or wired throughout your home. The one brand that usually comes to mind is Sonos.
Sonos had a big presence at this year’s CEDIA. They announced a new exclusive streaming service and debuted a more powerful wireless peripheral called the Sonos Boost. This is essentially a Sonos Bridge with “enterprise-grade wireless capabilities to serve even the most challenging home Wi-Fi environments.”
Sonos had a wide variety of competitors at CEDIA this year, from Bose to LG. With all these brands crowding the multi-room audio space Sonos introduced a new exclusive to the Sonos ecosystem: Deezer Elite.
Deezer brings content to the high resolution capabilities of Sonos speaker systems. Deezer Elite is the first global streaming service to offer high-resolution audio. It has the largest music catalog in the word with over 35 million songs. Since, Deezer Elite is integrated into the Sonos app it allows for a seamless transition between speaker control and song control.
We were impressed with the Sonos-exclusive streaming service. The service offers a larger music catalog than Spotify at a similar price. (Sonos owners that sign up for one year, will pay $10 a month. Otherwise, it’s $15 month-to-month.) The integration of a lossless audio service allows consumers to easily hear the full power and clarity of Sonos speaker systems. Not to mention, it’s an exclusive that really allows Sonos to stand out among the competition.
Sonos had a wide variety of competitors at CEDIA this year. From Bose to LG, everyone is looking to step in the ring. Denon has a serious shot.
Denon introduced HEOS directly across from the Sonos booth. HEOS is extremely similar to the Sonos speaker systems. There is a small, media and larger speaker plus a “Range Extender” strengthens the entire home network for all Wi-Fi devices. The big difference? Pricing. The smallest speaker, HEOS 3, costs $299 compared to the Sonos: Play 1 which is $199. However, the HEOS sound systems have power. For instance, the smaller HEOS 3 features a two custom full-range drivers powered by a two-channel class D amplifier. A rumor at the Denon booth was that they plan to introduce a new sound bar and subwoofer early next year.
This was the most popular and memorable innovation that was at this year’s CEDIA. Dolby’s new multidimensional sound technology allows you to hear specific sounds of people, music, and things as they move around you. Sound comes from all directions, including overhead. The new technology is now integrated into various products from brand like Pioneer Elite, Integra and Denon. The demos we heard were extremely impressive. This multidimensional sound experience has been available in certain movie theaters but this is the first time you’ll be able to hear it in your home.
How do you add an extra dimension of sound with Atmos? One way is adding ceiling speakers. Another way is using the impressive speaker system created by Pioneer Elite.
Pioneer Elite introduced us to their new line of Atmos-enabled speakers. They integrated a speaker on top of existing tower speakers which allow sound to be pushed toward the ceiling. This means you’ll get full multidimensional sound without having to install ceiling speakers. The demo we heard did a great job of putting us into the middle of the action. The movie ‘Oblivion’ really stood out, as ships and lasers were being shot all around us. They also switched from normal surround sound to Atmos which made it easier to hear the effect.
The speaker set-up included the Pioneer Elite SP-EC73 center channel, four SP-EFS73 Atmos-capable tower speakers plus two SW-E10 subwoofers. These were powered by the Atmos-enabled Pioneer Elite SC-89. There were 2 other receiver models on display with the lowest starting at $1600. This is an extremely affordable way to get the full experience of multidimensional sound.
For Atmos-enabled speakers, Dolby recommends that ceilings be anywhere from 8 feet to 14 feet high, with flat, reflective material such as sheetrock for the best effect. If your ceilings are absorptive, textured, very high or angled, you may need to consider discrete ceiling speakers instead. (We heard a demo from Epson, who did not have reflective ceilings, yet we were still able to hear a very similar effect.) Atmos-enabled content is becoming available. ‘Transformers 4’ is one of the first movies to integrate the new technology. The streaming movie service, Vudu, will also support Dolby Atmos.