When celebrating Michael Bolton’s entire catalog, cords should not get in the way.
So they shall be cut.
This is one of the main trends among the audio offerings at CES 2020: wireless earbuds and headphones.
“Everyone is going tetherless through wireless earbuds,” says Rick Kowalski, senior manager of industry and business indulgence for the Consumer Technology Association, which sponsors CES. “Manufacturers are able to pack more power, more features into more efficient earbuds now. Wireless earbuds have just been doing so well in the past year, and I expect more of that in the coming year. You also have a lot of smartphones out there that do not have the traditional physical audio jack any more, so this kind of pushes wireless earbuds/wireless headphones forward.”
At the same time, expect “When a Man Loves a Woman” to sound more crystalline than ever on said devices.
“I think sound quality has come a long way in the past year and we’ll see more improvements there,” Kowalski says of earbud and headphone advancements. “Manufacturers are just trying to squeeze as much energy out of the batteries in them, make them more efficient. You’ll see manufacturers mentioning longer battery life spans and the charging cases will probably pack an extra charge or two.”
On the home front, wireless speaker tech also is leading the way, as big sounds are being driven by increasingly small speakers.
“People are starting to upgrade their TVs,” Kowalski says. “Now it’s time to upgrade their audio.”
Speaking of upgrades, here are a few options found at CES:
Aftershokz Xtrainerz: In addition to helping remedy humanity’s sad neglect of the letter “z,” Xtrainerz (pronounced cross trainers) are designed with the athlete in mind as the first waterproof, wireless MP3 headphones, meaning you can actually swim laps with these on. Unlike other headphones that sit inside the ear, Xtrainerz rest outside, eliminating the risk of getting water and/or sweat between the inner ear and your tunes. Or tunez, as the case may be. Available now for $149.95.
Linkface Dear headphones: Like any good parent, you want to introduce your youngster to the face-melting thrash glory of Megadeth before they hit kindergarten. But, with that much awesome riffage coming at Junior, you have to be careful to protect the little guy’s ability to hear clearly afterward. That’s where these wireless, noise-canceling headphones come in. Designed for kids, they feature bio-electric monitoring that reduces the risk of hearing damage by tracking and regulating exposure to loud sounds while also automatically assessing hearing sensitivity. Gather ’round children, time for a little “Bite of the She-Wolf.” Release date and price to be determined.
POW Audio Una speaker: In any civilized society, chilling in the pool should not mean sacrificing one’s Dokken tuneage. Hence, this splash-proof, floatable speaker hits the water with you. Beyond that, it’s designed as a travel speaker as well, with high-fidelity sound that can be taken just about anywhere. Just think about how sweet your next trip to the DMV is going to be when filling the room with Billy Ocean’s greatest hits. You’ll probably get a medal. Available in the first quarter of 2020 for $99.
Nuheara IQbuds MAX: There is only one of you in this world — and we can all agree that’s quite enough, to be frank. But seeing as how you’re such a one-of-a-kind individual, shouldn’t your headphones be tailored just for you? Hence these wireless earbuds personalized to your specific hearing capacity. A mobile app assesses your hearing and then calibrates the earbuds to your hearing profile. The idea is to provide a customized sound just as unique as you are, precious. Available for pre-order now with shipping in March for $399.
RCA Sedona rechargeable wireless outdoor speaker with flame lighting: Speakers that don’t look like speakers are increasingly en vogue. Long gone are the days when you regaled your friends and loved ones with towering, Stonehenge-size speakers that looked like they were swiped from the stage at a Judas Priest gig. This wireless, lantern-shaped speaker fits right in with your patio decor and boasts three different flame effects. Beavis approves. Available in the summer for $99.