The New Audio Landscape

Sean Murphy, CEA
Affordable, high-quality sound solutions are a reality

A tale of two technologies: analog audio and digital displays. As is typically the case in any industry, what might signify the best of times for a certain category could represent the worst of times for a different one. With innovation causing the scales to constantly shift, it’s not unusual for one sector to thrive at the expense of another.

The home audio segment of the CE industry certainly faced challenges during the last decade. Most major manufacturers and veteran retailers grew up during a time when analog ruled. That was forever altered when digital AV solutions captured consumers. Portable devices and downloadable content quickly established a foothold and drove down sales and production of physical media.

During this digital revolution, consumers were no longer focused on audio equipment; digital displays dominated and all manner of content was stored on portable devices and PCs. Spending on home audio took a backseat as consumers upgraded their analog televisions and amassed personal libraries of digital media.

But as a new decade began, the flat-panel upgrade cycle had peaked, and audio gradually became an area of interest once again. After making a considerable investment on the home video experience, it made sense that consumers would shift focus to how their entertainment sounded.

In CEA’s recent study, Discovering Motivation and Opportunities Behind Home Audio Upgrades, it is clear that consumer appetite for audio is alive and well. The new generation of audio products is multifunctional and, with the implementation of MP3, Ethernet, HDMI and Airplay, delivers an enhanced in-home listening experience.

Improvements in digital amplifiers, soundbars and receiver capabilities have made “better audio” in the home feasible and affordable. It’s safe to say we have arrived at the best of both worlds for AV enthusiasts: optimal video with suitably robust and affordable audio.

Related story: The Future Already Happened

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  • Robert Heiblim

    Thanks Sean! This is great insight that many can benefit from. It also means a need for revisiting the showroom, presentation, demonstration and other strategies and tactics employed by both retailers and manufacturers. Opportunity remains fantastic, but you need to think what your plan is to capture it. Start taking action now.

  • Walt Rising

    Hear Hear

  • valley_nomad

    One thing that the organizations like CEA can do is to let consumers to know what they should expect with the current audio technology. Some people even don’t know much about how a stereo should sound, let alone the surround sound from DTV and Blu-ray