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The best new audio products at CES 2021
CES 2021 breaks precedence, as it’s all virtual. The booths, the briefings — everything is online, but the products are very much real. From creative software to eyewear attachments, these are the best new audio products of CES 2021, as voted by our editorial team.
Sony 360 Reality Audio Creative Suite
Sony announced its new creative suite plugin, compatible with popular digital audio workstations (DAWs). This plugin simplifies the process of creating 360-degree sound from Sony’s spatial sound technology. 360 Reality Audio Creative Suite includes tools such as headphone monitoring, control over 128 individual mono audio objects, and automated or manual control over audio positioning. Sony 360 Reality Audio braved the consumer audio world in 2019, and has made waves ever since. Deezer, Nugs.net, and Tidal, are the only music streaming services to support the audio format.
360 Reality Audio Creative Suite works with Avid Pro Tools, through the AAX plugin format and other DAWs via the VST3 plugin format. It’s developed by Audio Futures and will be available by the end of the month.
JBL Charge 5
The JBL Charge 5 builds upon the JBL Charge line of durable, portable speakers. Its 7,500mAh battery lasts for 20 hours and doubles as a battery pack. That’s right, you can use this honking speaker to charge almost any of your portable electronics. The IP67 rating indicates dust and water-resistance, so you can take this for a beach day without issue. It operates via Bluetooth 5.0 and houses dual-passive radiators and a separate tweeter. These elements work in tandem to reproduce loud bass, and clear treble notes. It can also connect to any compatible JBL product via JBL PartyBoost.
You can pick one up this April for $179.
Sennheiser IE 300
The Sennheiser IE 300 are premium in-ear monitors meant for daily use. Each detachable MMCX earbud housing contains a 7mm extra wide band transducer for clear, accurate audio reproduction across the 6Hz-20kHz frequency range. The drivers are designed to reduce unpleasant resonances that naturally occur within the human ear canal, something we’ve experienced with the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 noise-cancelling earbuds.
The ergonomic ear hooks are designed to easily mold around the back of your ear and maintain a stable fit for hours of wear. Sennheiser provides you with a host of memory foam and silicone ear tips, so you can decide what’s best for your needs. The Sennheiser IE 300 will be available on January 19 and will retail for $299.95.
V-Moda M-200 ANC
V-Moda makes the most durable headphones around, but it doesn’t rely on strength alone to make its products great. The V-Moda M-200 ANC are Bluetooth 5.0 headphones, which support Bluetooth multipoint. You can connect to two devices simultaneously with this headset — a feature typically reserved for the premium few (e.g., Sony WH-1000XM4). The headset offers plenty of high-quality codec support (aptX HD and AAC). No matter your preferred smartphone operating system, you can listen to up to 20 hours of high-quality audio on a single charge.
Each headphone houses a 50mm driver with neodymium magnets, and voice coils tuned by Roland. V-Moda includes a 3.5mm cable, which transmits lossless audio up to 40kHz, and a USB-C to USB-C charging cable too. V-Moda isn’t messing around with its headset.
The new headphones cost $499. Don’t worry: you have plenty of time to round up some dough, as it isn’t available until March.
JLab JBuds Frames
The JLab JBuds Frames are our wonkiest audio pick from CES 2021. These audio attachments turn any pair of sunglasses or eyeglasses into speakers. Each audio device uses a pair of hooks to secure it to your eyewear frames.
They also support AAC for high-quality audio playback. Though, high-quality audio doesn’t really mean much when the headset doesn’t go in or around your ears. Instead, the JBuds Frames keep your ears uncovered, letting you remain aware of your surroundings while still enjoying your favorite music or podcast.
Each device has a 16mm dynamic driver. They’re also IPX4-rated so you can exercise with them or walk through the rain. Each device should last for eight hours of continuous playback. The JLab JBuds Frames will be available in the spring for $50.
Edifier TWS NB2 Pro
The Edifier TWS NB2 Pro noise-cancelling earphones support ambient sound mode, so you can hear what’s going on around you. The unique design is certainly eye-catching, and it’s certainly a more modern version of the Edifier TWS NB.
These earphones use Bluetooth 5.0 and have an IP54 rating. You can get up to seven hours of listening from a single charge with ANC enabled, and the case provides an extra 23 hours of playtime. Just 15 minutes in the case provides two hours of reserve battery.
The best thing about these earbuds? They cost just $99. You can pick up your pair in March.
JBL Bar 5.0 Multibeam
JBL adds Dolby Atmos support to its soundbar collection with the JBL Bar 5.0 Multibeam. The soundbar recreates immersive sound that goes above and around you, rather than a standard static system. This soundbar is a plug-and-play affair that supports Apple AirPlay 2, Alexa MRM, and Google Chromecast. If you’re not one for Wi-Fi streaming services, you can always fall back on Bluetooth streaming. The Multibeam will be available this spring for $399.95.
LG QP5 Eclair
LG QP5 Éclair has won Android Authority‘s CES 2021 Top Picks Award for Best Soundbar. Check out all the awards here.
Like the idea of a soundbar but don’t have much space for one? That’s where the LG QP5 Eclair comes in, measuring 296mms long and 59.9mms high. Expect it to offer 3.1.2 channel sound with Meridian tuning, alongside Dolby Atmos and DTS: X support. Unfortunately, there’s no word on pricing or availability just yet, but you should keep an eye out for this if you need a compact soundbar.
JBL SA750 Integrated Amplifier
JBL released a host of products this year, but the JBL SA750 Integrated Amplifier caught out attention because it has Dirac Live room calibration. Our sister site SoundGuys tested Dirac’s mobile audio app around CES 2020, and was impressed with how effective it was. The company’s room tuning technology is no different, and allows for optimal audio reproduction in an imperfect setting. It also supports MQA file decoding and is Roon Ready. You can even enjoy more pedestrian services like Apple AirPlay 2 and Google Chromecast.
The JBL SA750 will also be available in April and retail for $3,000.