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Now hear this: new home hi-fi systems are music to our ears

User-friendly, digital all-round devices forecast to be one of the biggest trends, as streaming and multiroom systems grow in popularity

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 June, 2017, 9:27am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 June, 2017, 9:27am

Ssshh. Hear that? It’s possibly the purest sound you’ve ever heard in a home hi-fi system, and the coolest looking – if you’ve invested in the latest systems and add-ons,  which bring audio/visual entertainment to a new level of excellence.

According to the High End Society, which organised the annual hi-fi trade fair High End Munich in May, this is all courtesy of the digitalisation and virtualisation-led “radical transformation” under way in consumer electronics.

Noting that streaming and multiroom systems are becoming more popular, a report from the fair forecasts user-friendly, digital all-round devices will be one of the biggest trends. To wit, “more and more consumers are combining very different devices in their own homes and using intelligent connection systems that offer more convenience, security, entertainment and above all, cost and energy savings”.

As an example of what’s now possible, Bang & Olufsen is blurring the line between sound and art with a new wireless speaker system in customisable design which you simply hang on your wall.

BeoSound Shape is a modular system of hexagonal-shaped speakers, amplifiers and acoustic damper tiles that can be arranged in any pattern you fancy. The brand’s own up-mixing algorithm, called “Band on the wall”, creates a crisp and precise soundscape with the vocal performer in the centre and the instruments to the sides. Marie Kristine Schmidt, corporate vice-president: head of brand, design and marketing, says this technique “produces a sound experience as if the band was literally placed up against the wall doing a live performance, allowing the audience to move freely around a room”.

The system functions as a connectivity hub enabling wireless streaming of high-quality music from your mobile device as well as whole-home multiroom functionality. Collaboration with Danish textile manufacturer Kvadrat adds wool fabrics finishes in mix and match options of brown, moss green, pink and dark blue. BeoSound Shape will be available in Bang & Olufsen stores in August.

Sony has launched a new sound bar series of wireless speakers which is heard, but barely seen. In sync with the latest interior design trends, the MT500 and MT300 feature a tactile, leather-look surface and matte grill front, in charcoal black or crème white options. Its tiny size is ideal for Hong Kong’s living spaces: even though the high-resolution, audio-enabled MT500 packs a powerful subwoofer for upscale sound, this model is so compact you can tuck it under the sofa. Switch to sofa mode “to really feel the bass” from the low-frequency effects. These new models, launched in May, come with Bluetooth and NFC connection to stream music from your smartphone or tablet.  An added function on the MT500 links directly with your Spotify Premium account.

Samsung’s new A/V product range helps to de-clutter the living room. Subwoofer performance embedded in the MS750 Soundbar delivers powerful home cinema sound on premium TVs without the need for a separate subwoofer, the whole system operated by a single Samsung smart remote control. The paired audio and visual units share a single, designated power cable connection, eliminating the need to double up on cabling.

For vinyl fans, Technics has upgraded its next-generation direct-drive turntable – combining traditional analogue technology and advanced digital technology – in the new Grand Class SL-1200GR. The coreless direct-drive motor, high-rigidity platter and high-sensitivity tonearm lets audio enthusiasts enjoy music with the rich, robust sound of analogue records. Cost efficiencies in production have shaved the price of the 2017 edition to half that of the previous model.

But who wants to stay indoors in summer? Now you can truly take high-quality music anywhere with the newest addition to the Bose SoundLink Bluetooth speaker range.

Bose says the SoundLink Color II offers performance and durability above and beyond its predecessor. It can even withstand poolside splashes, or getting caught in the rain - and the new soft touch silicon exterior helps absorb more knocks, drops and bumps.

For those on the go, the new breed of wireless headphones is finally starting to deliver a personal hi-fi listening experience. Following Bose’s Quiet Comfort 35 headphones released last year, new product launches in 2017 include the first Bluetooth headphones from Audio Technica to use the brand’s Pure Digital Drive system (ATH-DSR9BT and ATH-DSR7BT models); and two new pairs of wireless headphones from Sennheiser, one equipped with noise-cancellation technology.  

Perhaps you fancy the most prestigious headphones in the world? That’s the marketing spin, but Focal’s hand-crafted, 18-ct gold, diamond-encrusted Utopia by Tournaire headphones also promise “astonishing sound”. With a price tag of US$120,000, you wouldn’t want to leave these babies behind on an aircraft after a flight.