By Wares May 03, 2016 Home entertainment

A round-up of some of the latest local and international home entertainment category news.

  • NZ home audio category still shrinking – GFK (www.gfk.com/en-nz) reports significant year on year growth in wireless mini speakers (+68%), but a “very severe decline” in traditional home audio systems (–68%). This was offset by the growth of connected systems (Bluetooth/Wi-Fi), but overall the category is still declining.
  • Sound bars prop up home theatre – Similarly, says GfK NZ, the growth of sound bars (+47% year on year), is offsetting the decline in the volume of home theatre systems, but not their value which is falling (–40%) due to the products’ lower price tags.
  • TV demand weak, 3D dying – GfK reports a 16% decline in NZ TV volumes (MAT Feb 2016) although average TV prices were +15% year on year (MAT Feb 2016). This is being driven by a shift to larger screens and the growth of UHD/4K TVs, which represented 41% of the total market value in the first two months of 2016 (+39% year on year). 3D TVs account for only 21% of total market revenue, and are declining “quite significantly”.
  • Olympics to be shot in 8K – The Olympic Broadcasting Services (www.obs.tv) will be sending up to 130 hours of 8K (Super Hi-Vision) content into Japanese living rooms during the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The footage will also feature new sound technology in the form of “3D 22.2 channel audio surround sound” according to the Advanced Television website.


Digital music shows a value grab

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has released its State of the Music Business report on 2015 music industry revenues. Key takeaways include:

  • 70% of music revenue now comes from digital platforms and formats, more than any other creative industry.
  • Subscription services reached all-time highs, generating more than US$1 billion in revenues for the first time, and averaging nearly 11 million paid subscriptions for the year.
  • Revenue for artists however hasn’t kept pace with music consumption, with ad-supported streams up 101% from 63% in 2014 while revenue decreased 3% to 31% in 2015.
  • Vinyl albums actually generated more revenue than subscription services with 17 million vinyl albums generating “more revenues than billion and billions of on-demand free streams: $416 million compared to $385 million for on-demand streams.”

Cary Sherman, Chairman and CEO of the RIAA addressed this disparity stating that “reforms are necessary to level the playing field and ensure that the entire music community derives the full and fair value of our work.”



Denon HEOS Wireless Music System

HEOS allows users to control all their music effortlessly from anywhere in the home with just one or more of the HEOS speakers and the free app. With plenty of speaker options to choose from, users can add to their network as they go. Once it’s set up, users can connect to their phone or tablet as they move from room to room. The system also allows for different music in different rooms so every member of the household can listen to their own favourites in their space. Music can be sourced from Spotify, Deezer and TuneIn or directly from phones, tablets or USB drives.



OSSIC X Headphone

Another headphone start-up, the OSSIC X claims to be “the world’s first headphone that instantly calibrates to your anatomy for the most accurate and immersive 3D audio”. The OSSIC X pairs 3D audio algorithms with individual anatomy calibration and head-tracking to deliver super accurate 3D sound – ideal for music, movies and particularly gaming and VR. Find out more about the research and technology behind these headphones on Kickstarter.



Panasonic DX900 UHD TV

Panasonic’s DX900 Ultra HD Premium TV is the world’s first 65-inch 4K LCD TV to support the UHD Alliance’s Ultra HD Premium specifications, a standard for High Dynamic Range and 4K video playback. Only products that achieve a certain level of brightness, resolution, contrast, colour response and black level specification are able to wear the Ultra HD Premium badge, and the DX900 has aced these requirements.

DX900 features a honeycomb LCD panel design which divides the picture into hundreds of individually controlled lighting zones. They are kept separate from each other to ensure light doesn’t leak between them. This has resulted in picture quality with impressive brightness and the deepest blacks.



Panasonic Wings BTS50, BTS30 Wireless Headphones

Panasonic New Zealand recently launched its first range of wireless headphones. The new Wings BTS50 and BTS30 models feature Bluetooth functionality and wireless design, perfect for exercise, flexible 3D ear hooks to provide a secure fit and waterproofing to protect the headphones from rain and sweat. BTS30 has an IPX4 splash proof design, which protects the headphones from sweat and light rain, and is available in the colours black, white, red and green.

The premium BTS50 (above) is available in black and white and features IPX5 waterproofing for extra protection from rain and dirt and can also be cleaned by washing the headphones under running water for quick and easy maintenance. This model also features blue LED lights embedded along the edge of the headphones, for increased visibility and safety during exercise over winter! Features a quick fit adjuster for the perfect fit, 6 hours of playtime on a full charge and hands-free calling with a built-in microphone.



SenCbuds Earphones

A promising New Zealand start-up is SenCbuds. Billed as “the first earphones that can automatically detect when to pause music”, the product uses patent-pending sensor technology, so they instantly know when they are taken out of a user’s ear and then pause the media being played. Once reinserted in the ears, audio playback continues without the user losing their place in the song, podcast or audio book then restart. SenCbuds has already picked up a prestigious iF Design Award and a Red Dot Design Award. Find out more about this Kiwi success at the website below.


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