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11 innovative instruments and musical gadgets from CES 2017

Laura  Barnes
11 innovative instruments and musical gadgets from CES 2017

While the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) might typically attract the type of brands showcasing the latest laptop technology, futurist robots and smart fridges that can order your shopping for you, there are also numerous musical innovations being showcased at the show each year.

As technology infiltrates every part of our lives, it’s becoming an increasingly important part of the MI world.

Here we round up some of the most innovative and interesting instruments and musical gadgets from this year’s CES:

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Magic Instruments showcased its MI Guitar at this year’s show. It’s a new type of instrument designed to get users playing songs instantly and recently received over 700% of its original $50,000 funding goal on Indiegogo. The firm claims to have reinvented the fretboard with this new guitar, which lets you play entire chords with a single finger.

We interviewed Magic Instruments back in August when we first caught wind of the new guitar, where co-founder Andrew Song told us that they’re looking for a retail launch in Q4 2017.


Klipsch showcased a number of premium and stylish audio products. One particular offering that caught our eye was the new app-controlled wireless subwoofers.

Complete with volume, high pass and EQ customization – the new Klipsch Reference subwoofers are controlled via the easy-to-use Klipsch LowControl app for iPhone and Android. It comes with Night, Cinema and Music listening modes, plus it has Automatic Room Correct using your device’s microphone.


In September 2016, we headed down to Abbey Road Studios to take a look at its incubation programme for music technology start-ups. One of the products featured was OSSIC X – the world’s first 3D audio headphone. The firm has now demoed its impressive headset at this year’s CES.

The OSSIC X can instantly calibrate to the listener by pairing advanced 3D audio algorithms with head-tracking and individual anatomy calibration to deliver incredibly accurate 3D sound to user’s ears.


Phonotonic claims to be the first wearable smart object that turns your movement into music. It’s a wearable and an app that turns all your moves into music in real time. The sensor communicates with the Phonotonic app via Bluetooth and measures every movement using inertial sensors. The app then transforms that data into music in real time.

The sensor object comes in the form of what looks like a large, plastic Crystal Maze-esque crystal, but the sensor itself can be removed and attached to other objects or your own body. The idea behind the sensor crystal is that you can throw it about and create games with other people to give yourselves a workout while you create tunes.


From the creators of Guitar Hero 1 comes Singtrix, a revolutionary karaoke experience. “Singtrix features the most advanced live vocal technology used by the pros, so everyone sounds amazing,” says the firm.

It features natural pitch-correction, powerful harmonies, hard tune, reverb and delay as well as three skill levels plus voice cancellation that lowers vocals on standard music.

Singtrix works with free YouTube Karaoke and Lyrics Tracks. The really great thing about this is that it also works with your smart phone, tablet, computer, and guitar or keyboard, meaning you can use your own song library, karaoke tracks, or home music recordings.


Etymotic showcased a range of ear protection technology including its MusicPRO Electronic Earplugs. These adaptive noise-reduction earplugs automatically adjust to changing sound levels and are designed for musicians who want to hear naturally without the inconvenience of removing earplugs at certain times.

MusicPRO’s circuitry automatically changes output levels as sound input levels change. Hearing is natural, as if nothing is in the ears, until sound exceeds safe levels. As the sound levels increase, these handy earplugs gradually provide 9- or 15-dB sound reduction.


While virtual instruments are becoming increasingly popular on smartphones and tablets, one bugbear for musicians is the difficulty that arises when you can actually ‘feel’ the instrument. Sit down at a real keyboard and bash out a few chords no problem, but try to do that same on your iPad and it’s all too easy to slip about, hit the wrong keys and not be able to instinctively guide your fingers to the right note.

Tanvas is trying to solve this problem by helping musicians ‘rediscover touch’. It’s tech aims to let you feel what you see on the touchscreen by creating “dynamic textures, multisensory experiences and rich interactions.”

By using surface haptics technology, Tanvas enables real-time control of the forces acting between a fingertip and the touch surface.


IK Multimedia showed off its range of compact tech for musicians, including the iRig Nano Amp – a versatile micro amp with a built-in iOS interface.

It gives you both a standalone portable guitar amplifier plus an interface that lets you plug into an iPhone or iPad and use AmpliTube for iOS to access an unlimited world of guitar tones on the go.

The amp is battery-powered and the interface can be used by itself, with headphones or even an external speaker cabinet. Impressively, the iRig can drive up to a 4x12" guitar cab.


Meters Music’s headphones are not just your typical pair of cans. Created by amp makers Ashdown Engineering, the noise cancelling headphones are described as deep, dynamic, articulate and detailed.

The most interesting feature of the two headphone models, the OV-1 and the OV-B, is the ‘active visual monitoring’. The VU meter featured on the left and right ears of the headphones are a line-level signal indicator, designed to give the headphones a dynamic look as people around you can ‘see’ the level of the music you’re enjoying. They work exactly like the meters on a professional mixing desk, bringing a touch of the studio to your everyday listening.


In amongst a vast array of musical accessories from Roland, the firm unveiled the GO:Mixer – a compact audio mixer for smartphones.

This little device makes it simple to record high-quality audio in music videos and other video content created with your smartphone. Just plug in GO:MIXER to capture a high quality stereo soundtrack directly to your video as you perform.

With multiple inputs available, you can connect a mic, musical instruments, and media players and mix them all together live while you shoot. You can also combine five sources at once via inputs for a vocal mic, guitar, stereo keyboard, and two stereo line-level devices (such as music players and drum machines).


PopuBand has unveiled an electric ukulele to help beginners learn the instrument.

The smart ukulele comes with a light-up fret board and a companion app that pairs over Bluetooth to enable you to easily learn chords.

This is the second instrument from PopuBand, the first being the same concept but in guitar form, named, you guessed it, the Poputar.

Tags: ces , new gear , inventions , CES 2017 , innovations

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