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9 Pieces of Audio Technology That Will Shop or Flop in 2015

What are YOU going to waste your money on in 2015?

by Jesse Champagne
Jan 29 2015, 1:24am

The 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) took place January 6-9 in Las Vegas, Nevada, and with it came a slew of new ideas and new technology. Some good, some bad, and some downright bizarre. While the four day trade show featured a smorgasbord of cutting edge technology, such as driverless cars, smartwatches, virtual reality headsets, and Back To The Future II-style hover boards, what we—and hopefully you—are most interested in is the new audio technology. From questionably overpriced music players to AA battery-powered DJ controllers (no, seriously), here are 9 pieces of audio tech to keep an eye on in 2015.

Sony ZX2 Walkman
Cost: $1,119.99

Remember the days of cassette tapes and Walkmans? Neither do we! How about the MiniDisc Walkman in the early 2000s? (Wait, that was just me?) Nevertheless, Sony is back with a brand new edition of the Walkman, designed to "reproduce master quality recordings just as the artists originally intended." Although it may play music at a high resolution, it's interesting to note that the ZX2 is running on "Jelly Bean," a version of Android from way back in 2013.

Pro: Your music will sound really, really, really, really good.
Con: For $1,119.99, you can buy an iPod shuffle for 22 of your friends and still have money left over to pick up a case of beer.

Echobox Explore X1
Cost: $450

The Echobox is an Android-based, high-resolution music player that will have access to streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, and Google Music, as well as new lossless streaming services like TIDAL. You can also "drink straight front the bottle" and connect to the music on your other systems by hooking the Echbox up to WiFi. The 64GB model retails for $450.

Pro: It looks like a flask.
Con: You can't actually drink out of it, and it looks like a flask.

PonoPlayer
Cost: $400

It may look like a Toblerone chocolate bar, but the PonoPlayer is actually a pricey high-resolution music player. The brainchild of the legendary Neil Young, the "Pono" features a touch screen, 128 GB storage, and compatibility with FLAC, ALAC, MP3, WAV, AIFF, and AAC… something most other music players already do.

Pro: Neil Young is cool, right?
Con: Just about everything else.

Brookstone Big Blue Button
Cost: $70

The name is silly and the physical mockup is even sillier, but The Big Blue Button offers music fans an affordable and wire-free opportunity to link up multiple speakers and a source together. Create your own stereo speaker setup via the BBB's two antennae, and for a reasonable price.

Pro: No more wires, no more tangles, no more tears.
Con: The name and look could use a serious overhaul.

Devialet Phantom
Cost: $2000-$2400

The Devialet Phantom looks like something off the set of the upcoming Stars Wars movie, and with the output power of a speaker 20 times its size, it packs the punch of an angry Wookie. Featuring an "implosive heart bass" design, the Bluetooth speaker offers distortion-free output and is "four times more powerful than the best woofers on the market of an equivalent diaphragm size, yet six times more compact and six times lighter." Geeze. The standard version of the Phantom is set to retail for $2000, while the 3000-watt Silver Phantom will sell for $2400.

Pro: Have your music sound like you're a world-famous producer.
Con: Have you seen the price tag? You might as well already be a world-famous producer.

Exogear Ecosmart 4000
Cost: TBA

There's nothing worse than having your speakers die during a two-day rave in the middle of the desert. That's no longer a problem, thanks to Exogear's new Ecosmart 4000 Bluetooth speaker, which features a built-in solar panel and up to 18-hours of battery life. The speaker is also waterproof and mud-proof for when things get particularly nasty.

Pro: The party never has to stop. Like, ever.
Con: We live in Canada, so that whole "Sun" thing is iffy.

Ion Audio Air LP Bluetooth Turntable
Cost: $149

USB turntable pioneer iON Audio has combined the world of vinyl records with the ever-rising world of streaming audio to create a Bluetooth turntable. Although you can still hook up your vinyl records the old-fashioned way, the Air LP will enable you to convert audio vinyl sounds to digital and then wirelessly stream it to your Bluetooth speakers. There is also a USB port for connecting the turntable to your PC or Mac. The Air LP Turntable is expected to ship in March with a price tag of $149.

Pro: Now you can finally throw down with your grandparents!
Con: Audiophiles will cry foul at the unavoidable loss in audio quality.

Casio XW-DJ1 & XW-PD1
Cost: $299-$399

While Casio is best known for making keyboards, they have now turned their attention to the art of DJing with the release of two different products: the XW-DJ1 DJ Controller, and the XW-PD1 Groove Center, a 16-pad sample with a sequencer, effects, and synthesizer. Both have built-in speakers, run off four AA batteries, and can connect to your iPhone/iPad or computer. The XW-DJ1 is priced at $299, while the XW-PD1 will run you $399.

Pro: You can finally be the mobile DJ you have always dreamed of being.
Con: A batter-powered DJ mixer doesn't exactly scream "respectability." Don't expect to be headlining too many club shows with it, Mr. Van Buuren.

Machina Pro Desktop Record Cutter
Cost: $3,500-$6,500

Melbourne-based sound engineer and inventor Paul Tayar has created a device that will allow its users to turn their music into wax from the comfort of their own homes. The machine is fully automated—all the user has to do is lay down a blank vinyl disk, connect their computer to the DRC, and push a few buttons. The machine will then cut a record in real-time—one minute of music will take one minute to press to vinyl. The DRC can also play records like a regular player. The current model is expected to sell for $6,500, while a more mainstream model is slated to go for approximately $3,500.

Pro: Make your own vinyl records from inside you own house? What's not to love?
Con: You're that guy.