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Review Edition - IFA International

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SOUNDBARS Cinema experience for one’s home? Not only should the image quality be impressive, but also the quality of the surround sound speakers, which contributes to an authentic atmosphere. Consumers today can choose between simple sound projectors with integrated bass, soundbar systems that come with a separate subwoofer, or so-called sound bases. But what makes a GOOD soundbar? ... Soundbars experienced a massive hike in demand in 2013. Compared to the previous year, sales more than doubled in the period January to December. In December last year about 80,000 soundbars were sold in Germany alone and generated a clear increase in turnover of 121% in the Christmas business, compared to December 2012. Particularly the relatively new segment of sound bases was able to increase its popularity among consumers last year. DEVELOPMENT OF SALES VALUE WITH SOUNDBARS (IN MILLION EUR) IN EU6* In EU6*, turnover with soundbars amounts to 224 million Euro in the first half of 2014. 100 80 60 40 20 STATE OF PLAY MARKET 24 22 23 Jul 13 Aug 13 Sep 13 35 43 81 Oct 13 Nov 13 Bec 13 Jan 14 * EU6 = Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, Spain, Netherlands CONTACT Bettina Steinbrenner Marketing Manager Home Consumer Electronics GfK Retail and Technology bettina.Steinbrenner@gfk.com 63 32 28 27 40 THE FUTURE Soundbars and especially sound bases will continue to be a very interesting market segment which currently seems to be increasingly divided into two: While the mass market demands affordable and ultra-slim products with many features, the upper end of the market is willing to invest into products that look and sound as good as 'real' high-end speakers. Feb 14 Mar 14 Apr 14 May 14 33 jun 14 KEY SELLING POINTS TECHNOLOGY Sound Matters! Most consumers will use the Sound Bar to enhance the flimsy sound of their flat screen TVs and not care much about virtual surround technologies. As many products also support music playback via Bluetooth or other wireless connections, a good, solid stereo sound is more important than elaborate surround simulations. The Evolution: Sound Bases Many manufacturers now offer products that are slim as a Sound Bar but deep enough so that a TV can be placed on top of them. Through the larger available volume given a certain height these offer a very sophisticated sound close to that of standard box speakers. Wireless Subwoofer Many Sound Bar and Sound Base products, especially the ultraslim versions aimed at the mass market, come with an additional subwoofer that should connect wirelessly to the main unit. Systems with a wired connection for the subwoofer will only be accepted in the lower end of the market, if at all. FEATURES Inputs and HDMI Pass-through Most mass market soundbars / sound bases will feature at least one HDMI 2.0 input (with pass-through of the video signal to the TV via an HDMI output) as well as other digital and analogue connections. The HDMI 2.0 output supports the Audio Return Channel (ARC) to accept audio directly from the connected TV over only one cable. File Format Support Some newer models now offer USB inputs that can be used for playing different media file formats. For audiophiles FLAC support with at least 192 kHz/24bit is a plus, some soundbars can even be connected directly to a PC to play music from there. Wireless Music Streaming Most soundbars and sound bases will be able to play music streamed from a user's mobile device via Bluetooth. Support of the higher quality aptX Bluetooth protocol will differentiate the more sophisticated products that aim to replace the consumer's main music system. INNOVATING @ IFA KLIPSCH REFERENCE R-10B DEFINITIVE W STUDIO SOUNDBAR The W Studio is Definitive Technology’s flagship wireless soundbar that perfectly blends high-performance theatre sound with hi-resolution musical reproduction. It uses Definitive Technology’s proprietary Spatial Array technology that creates an HD room-filling 5.1 channel surround sound experience. » HALL 1.2 / STAND 204 DESIGN Mix and Match Many TV manufacturers will now offer soundbars or sound bases with a design matched to their TV sets to promote additional sales. For high-end TV sets, manufacturers will use materials with higher quality. Fitting For Growing Screen Sizes In most markets, the screen-sizes of sold TVs increase constantly. This will be reflected by a growing demand for soundbars and sound bases that fit well with larger TVs. Slim Is Not Everything While mass market products will continue to be as slim as possible, certain products aimed at the consumer who desires a non-intrusive sound solution without compromise in sound quality will continue to exist. These are usually bigger, feature expensive materials and a design with certain references to traditional loudspeakers. This new two-way soundbar from Klipsch is compatible with most Bluetooth wireless enabled devices and also offers aptX audio coding technology for lossless, high-quality music streaming. A Dolby Digital Decoder allows the soundbar to automatically reproduce detailed, high-quality sound no matter what format of sound is coming from the TV’s output. » HALL 1.2 STAND 208 Our thanks to EISA for their help in compiling this buyers’ guide. » HALL 1.2 / STAND 204 » HALL 22 / STAND 101 » HALL 1.2 / STAND 204 » HALL 1.2 / STAND 204 » HALL 1.2 / STAND 101 www.ifa-international.org IFA International • Friday 19 th September 2014 29

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