January 5, 2017 marked my 15th year in CES attendance. After an abbreviated time at the show last year; I was eager to hit the show floor this time. The show was a bit earlier this year (running from January 5th through the 8th) in cool, cool Las Vegas. Those attendee's looking for a break from winter, did not find warm, southwest temperatures this year. The most popular dance in this year's bus line was the "get me inside" shuffle!
While CES 2017 is covered extensively, and broadcast live (via the CES 2017 Live Broadcast online video stream and Enjoy the Music.com's official CES 2017 High-End Audio Press Center coverage), I wanted to give you a quick review from the man on the floor. The show seemed a bit muted this year. While it had the usual flash and dash from booth to booth, I felt the show lacked a big "must see" moment. Everything seemed a bit smaller, especially high-end audio as it was more measured than years past. Even the normally chaotic McCarran International Airport was manageable; both arriving and departing.
Picking up my badge at the airport was quick and easy. I find this to be a smart logistical move on CES part. I saw several people take advantage of this free service. The hotels, the Rio for me and the crew, seemed to be having a problem handling the onslaught of guest checking in. Found this very odd as all hotels know of the CES onslaught. Arriving at the show and happy to be in from the cold, we started on the main floor Center Hall at the Las Vegas Convention and World Trade Center. Spent the first day at CES 2017 combing through the usual array of consumer tech. We usually spend a day on the consumer products, with the remaining days touring high-end audio at the Venetian. Since this is Enjoy the Music.com report, I will concentrate on the high-end audio and the Hi-Res Audio area. A brief word on the big name consumer displays such as Samsung, Panasonic, etc. is also in order.
As I originally observed; even the big boy displays were trimmed back a bit. Sure, by now; you have seen the stunning LG OLED Tunnel display, comprised of dozens of gently curved OLED screens. This was something to behold. And yes, Audi's autonomous vehicles were way cool. And please do not forget a robot in every room or booth. They prefer to be called; your virtual assistant these days, I hear. Behind all that flash, some things were missing. For example, I am always in search of a better, larger monitor. Currently have a 65" Samsung UHD monitor and sure it's nice, yet I want an SUHD and something bigger too. I fully prepared to wander through the Samsung display, narrowing down my choices. But I couldn't. Samsung was only displaying their latest "coming soon" displays with their stunning QLED line, which will replace Samsung's SUHD TVs as the firm's flagship line. New models are said to ship 2QTR 2017. The ability to compare the current line and the "coming soon" displays, was not possible…because to present line was not displayed. We saw this play out, booth after booth. Many vendors only showing their "soon to be released". This was noted in the high-end display's as well.
There are a few honorable mentions on the main floors.
Surprisingly, we spent a great deal of time at Klipsch. I have been a fan of the old Klipsch horns for years, but felt that the quality had disappeared over the years. Klipsch was drawing a bit of a crowd, demonstrating their "throw back", hand-made speakers called the Forte III. Powered by a Cary Audio SLI-80 vacuum tube integrated amplifier and Cayin SCD-50T SACD player, the Forte presented quite a soundstage. The Forte III is the first truly full-range speaker within their Heritage line. The Forte III is priced at $1800.
Sony was displaying their signature line of Headphone amplifiers and personal digital players (DAP), but the demo line was way too long. I'm also a germaphobe and must really like set of headphones that thousands of people have put on their heads to make me wait in line to do so. Many people were commenting on the products, so I will have to circle back to them, locally.
Static displays of many beautiful speakers (and headphones) were dispersed throughout the main floors, but we breezed quickly by; hoping to audition them later, at the Venetian.