CES has evolved over the years from a showcase for cutting-edge hi-fi gear into a broader consumer electronics extravaganza dominated by massive TVs, futuristic vehicles, and eccentric gadgets. But this year’s show offered signs that high-end stereo equipment is staging a comeback in Las Vegas.
While roaming the crowded convention halls, I was encouraged to see several major speaker manufacturers unveiling new audiophile-grade models. Bluetooth speakers, sound bars and headphones still take priority on the CES stage – but make no mistake, hi-fi is carving out a niche for itself once again.
The following are the most exciting new speakers I discovered that deliver the pinnacle of audio fidelity. From reinvented classics to statement-making first-time offerings, these systems promise a new sonic experience back home. I’ve also highlighted some unexpected TV brands aiming their expertise at the speaker space lately.
While the behemoths of home theater own the Las Vegas spotlight, a subtler high-end audio reawakening stirs on the sidelines. For the discerning listeners and vinyl spinners among us, take heart – CES still harbors plenty of new toys, whether hiding in plain sight on the main show floor or tucked away in intimate hotel suites. Read on for the crème de la crème unveilings promising to take your listening experience to rarefied new heights in the coming year.
Italian speaker maker Sonus faber introduced its new flagship Suprema speaker, priced at an astronomical $750,000 per pair. After 3 years in development, the Suprema incorporates several new technologies like a dual-drive midrange motor. Audiophiles who can afford the Suprema’s price tag can visit the company’s factory in Vicenza, Italy to customize their speakers. In a demo with high-end McIntosh amplifiers, the Suprema delivered striking realism and effortless dynamics on tracks from Billie Eilish and Sara Bareilles.
JBL revived a classic with the L100 Classic speaker, modeled after their iconic 1970s L100 dorm-room staple. Keeping the vintage look with wood veneer and colorful foam grilles, the new L100 Classic updates the drivers and sound quality for modern times. It sells for $2,400 each.
French maker Focal updated its popular Aria speaker line with the Aria Evo X. It has a next-gen tweeter for improved detail, and a new midrange driver for better dynamics and clarity. The speakers look as good as they sound, with glossy finishes like Moss Green. Prices range from $2,398 to $5,398 per pair.
American company SVS aimed to make a splash at CES by exhibiting in the crowded main hall. They showed off the new Ultra Evolution series, led by the flagship Titan model at $4,000 per pair. It has an eye-catching curved baffle design and uses premium drive units like a diamond-coated tweeter.
Hisense displayed a concept called the Sonic Screen – basically a giant speaker built into a projector screen. Like Sony’s Acoustic Surface technology in its high-end TVs, it uses actuators behind the screen to turn the surface into a large diaphragm. It produced impressively loud and full sound, and could be a better audio solution than the weak built-in speakers in most projectors.
Finally, Samsung exhibited the Music Frame, which doubles as wall art and a speaker. You can use one as a standalone wireless speaker or pair two as rear surround speakers with a Samsung TV. It allows people to incorporate speakers into their living spaces discreetly. Overall, CES 2024 gave a preview of speakers that sound as good as they look.