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Sony CES 2020 Preview

Sony CES 2020 Preview

A new year and time for CES again. Media days for CES 2020 take place on January 5th and 6th, with Sony holding their annual CES press conference on Monday, January 6th at 5pm local time (PST). Will Sony have any surprises this year? Will the WH-1000XM4 make its appearance? Or will Sony focus on other divisions at CES? Read on to find out.

On the Sony CES site, the following can be seen (see below). What is this in reference to? Many sites are reporting it is related to the Playstation 5, personally I suspect it is some weird device out of Sony's labs. While CES is not a major show for Sony's portable audio division, there have been some interesting reveals in the past. In 2018 we got the WF-SP700N, WI-SP600N, WI-SP500 and high end MDR-1AM2; in 2017 the A30 and WS620 Walkmans and the MDR-XB950. Last year, Sony only had the Alexa update for the WH-1000XM3, so not a new release. So perhaps this year we might be in for a treat.

A link for the live stream can be found here. Stream is live!

Youtube link here

Sony CES 2020

Time for other areas:
  • LA - 17:00 January 6th
  • New York - 20:00 January 6th
  • Berlin - 02:00 January 7th
  • Tokyo - 10:00 January 7th
  • Melbourne - 12:00 January 7th

I am hoping for some debuts at CES but if nothing I write about appears at the show, that is okay, the new products will show up shortly after CES eventually. So let us begin.

  1. WH-1000XM4
  2. NW-A100 and NW-ZX500
  3. WI-SP510
  4. WF-SP800N
  5. WF-XB700
  6. WH-CH710N
  7. h.ear on 3 (WH-H910N, WH-H810, WF-H800)
  8. WI-1000XM2

WH-1000XM4

The mark 4 is on everyone's mind after it appeared on the FCC in mid December. So of course the question is, will the mark 4 debut at CES 2020? There is a high possibility it will, let me explain my reasoning. In the past, after a FCC filing, most product reveals took place many months after, ranging anywhere from 7-19 weeks after their FCC appearance. But recently, the WI-1000XM2 and h.ear on 3 line showed up on the FCC around 2-3 weeks before their reveal, meaning a WH-1000XM4 CES 2020 reveal is very plausible.

Unfortunately there is a disadvantage to this early reveal, retail availability. With many previous products, including the mark 3 and 2, retail availability was right after the reveal. But all 3 members of the h.ear on 3 line, WI-1000XM2 and new Walkmans, had their retail availability pushed back 2-3 months after their reveal. Japan received most of the new IFA devices in November, but the European availability was anywhere from November to early/late December for some products, with the WI-1000XM2 available from January 2020 for example. I have included my Twitter poll regarding the WH-1000XM4 and if people would be upset of it not debuting at the show.


So while there is a high chance Sony will show the WH-1000XM4 at CES 2020, retail availability might be 2-3 months later, perhaps March/April 2020. I will point out one thing, in the FCC filing, the internal/external photos and manual will become available on June 1st, 2020, so a retail availability closer to Summer 2020 is also possible. Of course Sony could announce the mark 4 and then have it on sale within a month as well. With the release date out of the way, time to move onto the specs.

Sony WH-1000XM4

The above is from the FCC filing and does not reveal much. The WH-1000XM4 is expected to feature Bluetooth 5.0 (maybe even 5.1), NFC and Noise Cancellation. From the filing, it seems like Mediatek might be the choice for Bluetooth and while I do not have confirmation yet, the MT2811 seems like a likely choice. The explanation for this theory is all in the WH-1000XM4 post, so please check it out for all the details.





As for the design, looking back at the MDR-1000X and WH-1000XM2 (see below), the design differences were almost minimal but the materials used were different between the 2 models. The internals were more or less identical with some minor chip changes but both used the same CSR8675 from Qualcomm and the same S-Master-HX amp (CXD-3778GF). The WH-1000XM3 received a design change and new internal chips so perhaps the new mark 4 will have a similar design to the mark 3.

Sony MDR-1000X vs WH-1000XM2 design

The slider piece in the FCC label shows something almost identical to the WH-1000XM3, so perhaps only instead of a brand new design, Sony will evolve the look and instead focus on improved materials and build and upgrade of the internal parts. Hopefully Sony will eliminate the squeaking and creaking in the headband, a major issue users have complained about since the debut.

UPDATE: I am not seeing any actual evidence of the new WH-1000XM4 from my regular sources, so it seems that there will not be a WH-1000XM4 at the show. This could be because Sony plugged their leaks, but I am doubtful. I will have a post up after the show detailing when the most likely time of appearance of the new model will be.

NW-A100 and NW-ZX500

Just before Christmas, the new Walkmans, A100, ZX500 and A50 all showed up on the Sony US and Canada websites. Therefore I would imagine these would be at CES 2020, with either a full press release or a mention at the end of a press release. Regardless, pricing and availability should be released on Monday. The pricing in Canada will be ZX507, $1,099.00 CAD, NW-A105 $479.99 CAD, and NW-A50 $299.99 CAD. The only US price right now is for the NW-A50, and this will be $219.99 USD with a ship date of January 19th. No word if the anniversary model will be offered. The rest of the information can be found here.

WI-SP510

Sony WI-SP510

Please check the full post for all the details. We are looking at a Bluetooth 5.0 sports headset with IPX4 rating at least, possibly with NFC. The Bluetooth chip should be the Realtek RTL8763B that is found in other lower end Sony wireless headphones. The previous model was shown at CES 2018, so an appearance by the new model is very high. Apart from that no other information out there for now.

WF-SP800N

Sony WF-SP800N

Sony will be replacing their WF-SP700N with a new model this year, the WF-SP800N. The full post will have more details, but the new model will feature, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, an IPX4 rating and Noise Cancellation. The Bluetooth chip is the same as the WF-H800 and WF-1000XM3, the Mediatek MT2811. The Noise Cancellation should be from the Bluetooth chip since it has this function but Sony pull do a QN1 move. What is the QN1 move, well both the WH-H910N and WH-XB900N have the QN1 chip inside them, but since they only use one microphone for NC, Sony does not use the QN1 name since that needs 2 microphones, feedback and feedfoward. Sony could do the same here with the WF-SP800N, use the QN1e in the device with only one microphone for NC. Without those 2 microphones, Sony could use the QN1e for NC without the need to mention its use in the device. Pricing is unknown, but should be less than the WF-1000XM3.

WF-XB700

Sony WF-XB700

Even less is known about the WF-XB700, but it seems like another sports oriented truly wireless headset. It will feature Sony's Extra Bass, NFC, Bluetooth 5.0 and most likely use the MT2811 as well. It is unknown if Sony will use larger drivers compared to the rest of the WF lineup, but the WI-XB400 has a larger driver than its other WI siblings. Pricing could be $150-$180 USD.






WH-CH710N

Sony WH-CH710N

The upcoming WH-CH710N is one of the few new devices where we have some idea about the new design. Of course it will look slightly different in real life but the overall design is visible. Apart from the new design, expect Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, and Noise Cancellation. This model will be Sony's affordable NC option, around $200 USD. Bluetooth support could come from the MT2811 with NC either from the BT chip or perhaps a dedicated NC chip but this was not the case in the previous model.

h.ear on 3 (WH-H910N, WH-H810, WF-H800)

Sony h.ear on 3 lineup

While all 3 models were registered on the FCC last year, there is no guarantee if any will be sold in North America. Europe will only receive the WH-H910N, while certain Asian countries will also have the WH-H810 and WF-H800. So while these may be at CES 2020, it is unknown which will be offered for sale.

I suspect with the arrival of the WF-SP800N and WF-XB700, the chance to see the WF-H800 in North America are slim to none. Both the regular h.ear on 2 and h.ear on 2 mini were offered in North America, but I am not sure how well either model sold, so perhaps only the larger WH-H910N will be offered like in Europe.

WI-1000XM2

Sony WI-1000XM2

The new WI-1000XM2 looks to be a great device and is definitely on my radar for a wireless NC headset. The improved design, lighter weight, NC with QN1 and Bluetooth 5.0 are superb features, but the battery life is nothing stellar. Still I do hope Sony announces these for North America, otherwise anyone interested in these will need to import them from Europe or Asia. 

That is all for now. I am sure Sony will be announcing their new TV lineup, perhaps some sound bars even or other larger audio equipment, but I do not expect anything else from the portable audio division. Would be great to see some concept devices like Sony used to show but I guess that is too much to ask for.

Any updates will appear in their respective device sections. If anyone has any details or leaks of the new products, leave a comment or email me (ascariss at gmail.com)



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