CONNECTED AUDIO Home Entertainment

He adds: “Multi-room music is a perfect

illustration of our streaming platform’s flexibility. One touch connects any combination of Naim streaming products in beat-perfect sync, or choose to play different music in different rooms. “You can also pair with other AirPlay 2-


compatible wireless speakers via the Apple Home app, or with other Chromecast built-in devices via the Google Home app. Those options also bring you Siri and Google voice control, of course.” Also with a focus on key connected features, the

recently-launched R3 from Ruark Audio can access all the popular streaming services and offers FM, DAB, DAB+ and internet radio tuners, coming under the newly promoted ‘Smart Radio’ umbrella. “Our aim with R3 was to create an elegant,

compact and versatile all-in-one music system that included all the features which consumers have come to expect,” comments Richard McKinney, Sales and Marketing Director. “We know from feedback that many of our

customers still love listening to their CD collection and so, similar to its ‘elders’ (the R5 and R7), R3 (above) also includes a smooth slot loading CD mechanism. On the back of the R3 you will find digital and analogue inputs should you wish to connect an additional device. As with the rest of our range, R3 has been crafted from premium materials and it looks sublime.” Elsewhere, and boasting top quality wireless

synchronisation, the Bowers & Wilkins Formation Suite (below) supports high resolution audio, synchronising between speakers thanks to its unique and entirely proprietary wireless platform, which operates independently of Wi-Fi. This provides less than one microsecond synchronisation from speaker-to-speaker in the same room.

“Our Formation wireless portfolio covers a

high-performance stereo pair, the Duo and the Wedge, which is a powerful stereo system in a single component that’s ideal for use in smaller spaces,” explains Andy Kerr, Director of Product Marketing and Communications. “We’ve also got the Flex – a single speaker that

offers great sound used by itself, can be joined with other single speakers to create a multi-room space or even paired up for use in either stereo, or as rear speakers in a 5.1 system. Speaking of which, we also have a subwoofer, called Formation Bass, and a soundbar, the Formation Bar.”

True wireless audio When it comes to personal connected audio, Panasonic launched new true wireless earbuds in June, the S300W and S500W along with the Technics AZ70W. The latter and the S500W feature Dual Hybrid Noise Cancelling technology. All these new wireless earbuds also incorporate

a voice assistant feature, compatible with Siri, Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, to allow the consumer to control their smartphone by activating it through the touch sensor on their earbud. Comments Ryan Yu, Panasonic’s Product

Manager for Home Entertainment: “There is a clear trend shifting towards true wireless stereo (TWS) from wired/Bluetooth in-ear earphones, and even headband style, thanks to improving technologies. Active noise cancelling, which used to be more associated with overhead style headphones, is an important feature for consumers. “It is more convenient and comfortable to wear

earbuds for longer time, and we expect consumers will want to use earbuds and headphones for as long as they like to enjoy the audio content they listen to without disruption.”

The Technics AZ70W true wireless earbuds.

Investing in entertainment Consumers are becoming much more tech savvy in the way they consume music and television, and, according to Ruark’s Mr McKinney, people cocooning at home this year has been a catalyst towards a substantial shift to online shopping, also resulting in millions of new subscribers to the likes of Spotify and Netflix during lockdown. “Perhaps no surprise, but I believe it has fast

tracked the inevitable by a few years and the need heightened for products to offer functions such as Spotify Connect, smart radio and integration with home networks. With holiday budgets at consumers’ disposal this year, many chose to enhance home life… by investing in products like the new Ruark Audio R3!” With more third-party companies discovering

what smart technology can bring for their users, Harman’s Mr Amsterdam believes that more consumers will be seduced by features that can make their life easier and safer. “However, some find it too new and too

invasive,” he says. “So we need to continue explaining what the real customer benefits are and how our products can be of real benefit in their daily life around the home.” Mr Henderson simply adds: “More than ever

before, experience is everything.” While Mr Harknett believes there are no one-

size-fits-all solutions. Products need to be tailored to the customer and to what is possible in a retailer’s store. “I am a big fan of a good demo space,” he adds.

“A comfortable and welcoming environment for everyone. Let’s not forget we sell luxury items, so get to know the product and what demonstration material really shows it off with content that makes a real impact on the customer.”

Right: Panasonic’s S300W earbuds.

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