Soundbar System: At CES, Paradigm Shift was previewing its upcoming Paradigm Shift 2.1 Soundbar system with wireless subwoofer (projected price $799).
Coming Soon: Paradigm Shift has adopted the practice of telegraphing upcoming products on the Paradigm Shift website. According to information available there, we can soon expect to see Paradigm Shift Gaming Headsets and full-size Headphones. Stay tuned.
Although Phiaton was not officially exhibiting at CES, I did have the chance to meet up with Phiaton’s Akio Strasser, senior manager of sales & marketing, and Hyo-Jung Lee, assistant manager of marketing, to discuss and then briefly listen to the firm’s cool new PS 20 BT Bluetooth wireless earphone ($149). Loosely based on the “half in-ear” design of the firm’s PS 20 NC active noise cancelling earphones, the PS 20 BT is elegant, simple to use, and support v3.0 Bluetooth technology, which offers a lot more sonic potential than earlier versions of Bluetooth did. Since I heard the PS 20 BT in a comparatively noisy environment, I’ll hold off on offering detailed comments on its sound quality, but my initial impressions were quite favorable. I was also favorably impressed by how easy the ‘phones were to pair with a Bluetooth-3.0 phone, and by the overall look, feel, and ease of navigation for the user interface module. This product, which was announced this past fall, should strongly appeal to enthusiasts who find it frustrating to be tethered via signal cables to their playback devices of choice. With the PS 20 BT you’re free to get up and move around as you see fit, while the music continues to flow without a hitch.
Many of Polk Audio’s first offerings in the personal audio space were sports headphones/earphones, but at CES 2012 the firm rolled out two new UltraFocus-series active noise canceling models that I think will have much broader appeal to those who focus more on sound quality than on an earphone’s ability to stand up to the rigors of vigorous sports activities.
First up is the UltraFocus 6000 earphone ($149), which provides both passive noise isolation and active noise cancellation technologies, promises “audiophile performance” sound quality, and features a distinctive in-line control module through which listeners can adjust volume levels or toggle a push-to-hear switch that temporarily disables noise cancellation so that users can hear outside sound without removing the headphones.
Next comes the UltraFocus 8000 over-the-ear headphone ($349), which features Polk’s proprietary 40mm “dynamic balance” transducers, passive noise isolation and active noise cancellation technologies, and a 3-button remote control and microphone. One very cool visual touch is the 8000’s sophisticated “reflective carbon fiber headband.” I got a brief taste of the 8000 in action, which was very encouraging, but I’ll hold further comments until I get some quality listening time with Polk’s newest models.
Both the UltraFocus 6000 and 8000 are slated for release later on in Q1, 2012. Judging by preliminary blurb sheets put out on these models by Polk, we can expect both models to come with an uncommonly broad and thoughtful range of accessories.