IFA 2014: A Commentary

“1924 saw more than 170,000 visitors to a rather sober presentation without glitz and glamour.”So the corresponding Wikipedia article describes the first International Radio Exhibition in Berlin. Over 90 years have passed, the IFA is now considered one of the oldest industrial exhibitions in Germany and but no longer are the presentations only given in such a ‘sober’ approach. And I’m certainly not the only one who pleased about that.

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First Things First

Instead of what was once ‘sobriety’, now is a total sensory overload. Around every corner lurks an armada of large screens using brightly coloured films and animations forcefully to illustrate their quality, with their related sound systems having to keep pace. Unfortunately, they use high volume to convince you of their sound quality. You can find yourself wandering through overdriven beats then ending up in the middle of a dance performance, often of which are there to promote mini-speakers. All about the installations are accompanied by sweaty presenters, because the small but adamantly silent audience are often too shy to ask anything when thrust into an environment of live broadcast and perfectly choreographed set-ups featuring giant video screens – the technological fronteers of the future. It might be boring, but at least it’s quiet, or at least after all the hifi demonstrations: the satellite receivers, which after all are now available in all colours of the rainbow. Although you only remain there for a number of seconds because ahead awaiting you is the next group of eager prospects.

IFA Impressions

Even though these complaints are genuine, we by no means want to dismiss what the convention has to offer. You can’t overlook the fact that the IFA offers an excellent insight into the direction that in which the consumer electronics will develop in the coming years. If a popular high-end hifi release achieves success, usually that’s due to the fact that it’s produced results and at the IFA with both unique and specific features that are both impressive and interesting.

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Such was that at the IFA 2014, these two terms – 4K “and” HiRes Audio – were omnipresent, either as a cardboard cutout or larger than life projection.
The trend to provide our senses gradually with ever higher resolution digital music and video marches on. The latter in opens the floodgates without disciminiation: mainly LG and Samsung generally impressed with demonstrating the prowess of huge screens in the latest OLED or LCD/LED technology. In the future, even the term “television” might start to be deconstructed, with the term already being made redundant by some models now.

As if that were not enough, the giants who’ve pushed us from “flat” to “curved” might even be changing their minds. Kudos! Whether these sizes will ever produce for the mass market is again another matter. Experience shows that the average living room yes its limits. But we note that the current demand and accordingly availed by all manufacturer, curved design may soon be replaced by an either-or option.

 

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Similarly, with good intentions might we advise the same to audio. Naturally, all over is a committment to high resolutions in every standing and excellent level sound quality but in reality it’s sometimes but different. There’s less care to the high-resolution file formats themselves, but much more to the playback conditions. Because it can be clearly established a trend towards miniaturization of components, which is often associated with fancy design in addition to many operators.

Phsyical feats of engineering often apologised for with the statements “For the size it sounds actually pretty good” unfortunately does not equate to a high level of sound quality. The continuing trend to stream music via computer, media center or online service, is certinaly doing its part. As a designer object disguised, sometimes even completely free of cables and designed as a flexible and extensible system that will overcome the conflict between surround system, stereo operation and Party PA, here and there you can the impression not help thinking it was just too much intentional. Unlike television, where relatively clear is where we are headed, so it will be exciting with the music. For as it is heard over which devices in the future, which sources, formats or physical carrier may play a role and how sound quality at all is still a crucial criterion for the broad market, seem apparently not identified.

 

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So it’s somehow reassuring to see that at least currently, the classical components for stacking and copy for still exist. Seemingly unfazed by the recent trials and tribulations when it comes to music playback set many of the relevant manufacturers and 2014 unagitated and timeless design, but of course under the hood up-to-date. This could also be called understatement and it almost is not surprising that the experts for sound and volume at the outset referred annoying background sound comparatively moderate. Apart from that is also worth noting in each case that Panasonic is sending a new competitor into the race with old Technics. Here is clearly targeted to wealthy clientele HiFi and it remains to be seen whether the experiment is working. The demonstration has certainly left a positive impression.

 

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Let’s not forget the headphones. Within the obvious parametres of size, colour, design, and prize range remaining within the same reference system, the innovations are not quite as obvious. Even the loudest headphones have to be customised before getting to the hearing part, but at least there’s a choice involved.

 

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At the end of the IFA 2014 so leaves a divided impression. This is not so much that fair and manufacturers would not have had a substantial lot to offer, but much more on the type of presentation that needs to be frequently referred to in many ways just as counterproductive. Rather than focus the audience’s attention on the strengths of their products, to maltreat many exhibitors after all the tricks of the sensory apparatus desselbigen to the inevitable capitulation. Formulated malicious one could easily get the impression it prevails on the assumption that “the” – so we – anyway nothing else noted.

So now it’s your turn. Have you visited the IFA 2014? What impressions did you take? What did you particularly like? What’s hype and what’s left? We are pleased about your course evaluations and comments!

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