The Consumer Electronics Show is a chance for all the biggest tech companies to show off some of the tech they have planned for the year ahead, and 2019 is no different. While the show is often stolen by some really impressive TV and visual technology, there's a good number of audio companies showing off too.
For this year, it's seemingly all about taking tried and tested formulas and modernising them. Whether it's adding wireless charging to a wire-free AirPod competitor's case, giving some of the best-wired headphones great wireless connectivity or bringing technology from some awesome over-ears into the in-ear market, 2019 is the year of convenience.
We'll keep our eyes peeled throughout the show for the latest and greatest headphones and earphones developments. Let's dive in.
Audio Technica ATH-ANC900BT
Audio Technica's success comes from offering great sounding headphones in a package that's comfortable and light, easy to wear. But with the flagship over-ears unveiled at CES, there's a lot more too it than just good sound and a great fit.
The stand out feature is ANC, which isn't just one standard noise filter. AT equipped these with three different preset noise-cancelling modes, which you can switch between depending on the environment you're in, or you can just use a downloadable app to manually control it on your smartphone.
As with many of the latest audio products, Audio Technica equipped these new cans with Bluetooth 5.0, as well as Qualcomm aptX and AAC support for compatible Android and iOS devices. What's more, you'll get up to 32 hours of music playback from a single charge.
Of course, if you want to, you can use the included cable for a wired connection as well, and that also has the added benefit of enabling Hi-Res quality playback.
Inside, the 40mm drivers have diaphragms coated in a diamond-like carbon material, which means greater rigidity, resulting in a much more accurate sound with lots of "oomph".
The ATH-ANC900BT will be available in Spring, and will cost just £269.
Technics is one of the big traditional brands for days gone by, but it's not just relying on its retro, 1210 series turntables. At CES, it's launched a couple of new headphones, with the EAH-F70N definitely the ones worth paying attention to.
As with any high-end headphones, they feature ANC (Active Noise Cancelling) but it's not just standard single-filter ANC. It has what's called "Hybrid Noise Cancelling" which allows you to select a particular mode depending on the environment you're in. It uses a set of microphones on the outside, and inside of the earphones to detect external noise and measure how much noise is making it through to the ears.
In addition, this pair has a wearing sensor to automatically pause and resume music when you remove the headphones and put them back on again. And - as with most ANC headphones - you can choose to have ambient noise play through the drivers so that you're aware of your surroundings.
It's no slouch when it comes to audio performance either. Technics promises incredible powerful bass, lots of spatial ambience and really high-quality playback from the 40mm dynamic drivers. The headphones feature LDAC support, which - along with aptX HD - means you get both wired and wireless 24-bit audio. With a cable, you get high res.
Design-wise, the pair features a 3D ball joint mechanism, allowing the ear cup to move and tilt to fit the individual's ear at a comfortable angle. There's aluminium build, soft foam padding and a swivel/fold mechanism for easy portability. All in all, they sound like true contenders to the QC35 and Sony 1000MX3's of the world.
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 (2.0)
Bang & Olufsen's Beoplay E8 were among our favourite true wireless earphones in 2018 for pure music enjoyment, so with a winning formula already in hand, it made little sense for the Danish designers to start again from scratch. The newly announced Beoplay pair come with many of the features we loved about the original E8, while adding and tweaking to make them even better.
One major new feature is wireless charging, built right into the premium leather case. That means, you no longer have to fiddle around with a tricky cable or connector. Just plonk the charging case down on a wireless charger and it'll start refuelling the backup battery and the earphones. Of course, you can still use a Type-C connector if you want to.
As well as including a wireless charging option, the backup battery has been made more capacious too. It can now charge the earphones fully three times, offering 16 hours of total playtime, with the earbuds themselves offering four hours of continuous play outside the case.
They'll be released in February, with a price tag of around £300.
Nura, the company behind the impressive NuraPhone headphones has launched a brand new pair, but this time, they're in-ears.
NuraPhone was among the first pairs of headphones to have built-in self-learning technology that adapted the sound for each individual, and NuraLoop has that very same tech. Using a collection of highly sensitive microphones, it plays sounds at different frequencies and measures the reaction from your cochlea. It then produces a profile to match that specific response.
If it's anything like the over-ear headphones, the sound will be fantastic, and individually tailored to you. The big thing here, is that because it's a pair of in-ears, it's not going to be bulky or cumbersome to carry around, which the original over ears are.
In addition, this set features Bluetooth 5.0 for quality, efficient connection as well as a magnetic detachable cable for enabling wired use. What's more, they're water resistant, so you can still take them for a sweaty workout session at the gym, or a run in the drizzle.
We don't know how much this pair will cost, or when it's released, but we know it's being launched later this year.
Jabra Elite 85h
Jabra has been launching some reliable, solid earphones over the past couple of years. Namely its wire-free Elite Sport range. The new over-ear Elite 85h take that brand name, and push into new technologies for 2019.
As with most similarly priced over-ears, the Jabra Elite 85h come with ANC (Active Noise Cancelling) as standard, and will last 32 hours on a single charge even with the ANC feature switched on.
The exterior is covered in what looks to be a kind of fabric mesh, which comes in three colours: black, navy and a cream/beige option. What's more, the headphones are rain and dust resistant with an official IP52 rating.
With two custom 40mm drivers the sound should be loud, clear and full according to Jabra, and with the downloadable iOS or Android app, you'll be able to custom tune them to your liking.
Pre-orders begin in March with US pricing set to be $299, which includes a two-year warranty against dust and rain damage. We haven't had confirmation of UK prices yet, but we would expect a similar number in GBP.
Audeze Bluetooth iSine
Audeze iSine earphones have been out for a while now, and were ground-breaking at launch, offering a planar magnetic driver in an in-ear headphone. They're not cheap, but they sound fantastic. It stands to reason then - with so many phones and devices launching without 3.5mm headphone jacks - that those who stumped up the cash for a £300-£500 pair of wired in-ears aren't going to want to spend the same money again to get wireless ones.
Welcome, the Cipher Bluetooth module. Like the Cipher Lightning adapter for iPhones, the Bluetooth model features 24-bit high-resolution audio quality, with low latency so there's no lag. That's thanks in part to Bluetooth 5.0, but also - for the phones that support it - aptX and aptX HD. Plus, the model can last up to eight hours of playback on a full charge.
You can, if you want to, buy any of the iSine earphone models with the Bluetooth dongle included. But, if you already have a wired pair, you can order the Bluetooth module for $99, and get all the same audio quality and performance. Thanks to the MMCX connector on the actual earbuds themselves, it's fairly easy just to snap them off your existing cable and plug them on to the new wireless neckband.
The module is available to order now.
Klipsch T5 true wireless
Ever wanted a pair of wire-free in-ears that come in a Zippo lighter-shaped charging case? Of course you have, and Klipsch is here to deliver your dreams. These new T5 True Wireless in-ears ship in an attractive chromed case with a snap-shut that looks very much like the classic windproof cigarette lighter.
These true wireless earphones launch alongside other T5 models, and will give you 8 hours of playback from a single charge outside of the case. For a pair of small wire-frees, that's pretty outstanding.
Of course, Klipsch promises premium sound to go along with that premium case design and impressive battery life.
They launch in Spring and will cost around $199.
Sol Republic Shadow Fusion
Sol Republic has a growing reputation for its design-focused approach to earphones, and the Shadow Fusion is the latest to push that approach to new levels. With its fabric covered neckband, this latest pair of in-ears is clearly designed to be more of a fashionable extension of a person's unique style, than just a piece of tech.
Still, it's not all about looks. The big talking point with the Shadow Fusion is that it's one of the first pairs of earphones to include "find with Tile" capabilities unlocked by some Qualcomm smarts. That means it'll be harder than ever to lose the Sol Republic neckband, and simple to find when you've misplaced it.
Add that to the foldable, light collar for easy storage, and the magnetic earbuds that snap together when not in use and - at $129 - you have a great pair of everyday earphones.