The most exciting audio tech from IFA 2015
The fall and rise of audio as an important category has been interesting to watch. Two decades ago the hi-fi industry was at the peak of it golden age, but as digital technologies rapidly emerged, the mostly-analogue audio industry faded badly.
Today though, we're in the middle of a triumphant resurgence. Digital and analogue technologies have combined in ways they never did before and audio and themes like sound quality are regularly mentioned on T3.com and in our magazine.
Portable audio is particularly exciting. Big improvements in battery technologies have combined with both wireless Bluetooth tech and new ways to build small but energetic speaker drivers and what we see is a tidal wave of brilliant Bluetooth speakers. Sound has never been better and more portable.
Meanwhile, while the trend for ever-slimmer TVs has led to a demoralising reduction in TV sound quality, so has a dramatic improvement in the standard of soundbar products led to a whole new category of great audio options.
And of course, headphones have become one of the most important categories in tech - long gone are the days when most people walked around with crappy Apple earbuds in their faces. People are spending more money on headphones today than they ever have.
Audio is exciting, and here are our favourite five audio stories from IFA 2015.
Panasonic's 6.1 home cinema... rug
Japan has always been known for its whacky sense of humour when it comes to technology prototypes. Panasonic's latest 'WTF' innovation is this 6.1 home cinema rug. It's a 2.1 speaker setup which partners with a giant shaggy rug which has four more speakers, one upward firing from each corner. The idea is yes to create a surround sound system, but also to more evenly distribute sound to all corners of the room... or something.
New Sony headphones and Walkmans
Sony is famous for challenging in almost every tech category and audio is certainly one of its core areas. This year at IFA it has continued its campaign for high-res audio (that being music at better than CD quality) by launching new some funky new high-res headphones and two new Walkman MP3 players (yes, they still exist).
The new headphones range is called h.ear because Sony just figured out that the word 'hear' has the word 'ear' hidden mysteriously inside it. They look pretty cool though, and Sony has good form with headphones so we're excited to try them out.
Read more: Sony launches new Walkmans and headphones.
New digital radios from Pure
DAB radios still sell very well, especially around Christmas. And no one knows that better than British brand Pure which has just launched - count 'em - eight new digital and internet radios. The £129.99 new Evoke F3 is the leader of the pack offering loads of smart features like a 2.4-inch full colour LCD screen, Spotify Connect, wi-fi and Bluetooth.
A new Technics SL-1200
This one will warm the cockles of your heart if you're a lover of vinyl. Technics is probably the most important brand in the history of vinyl, with its SL-1200 having been the benchmark DJ turntable for over 40 years. Now owned by Panasonic now don't forget, Technics has just announced its making a brand new version of that legendary SL-1200 turntable. We don't have many details yet but we do expect to get more information soon and for the product to be released in 2016.
New wireless audio from Philips
We couldn't finish this off without mentioning Philips. Alongside its amazing new Ambilux TV tech, it has also used IFA to launch a bunch of awesome new audio gear.
The first is a new Sonos-a-like wireless music system. The range, consisting of two models priced from €129 to €279, will automatically find and pair with each other so you only need to connect your phone or tablet to one of them via Bluetooth. The other cool innovation is the Transformer-a-like wireless 5.1 system. This funky system has many different configurations for ultimate flexibility.
We like it. We think it's good.