Audio News for March 17, 2015

Pay-TV Subscribers Fall by 4000 in 2014 –  According to Strategy Analytics, the number households subscribing to a pay-TV service shrank during 2014, and current cord-cutting threatens to take down the subscriber base farther. More stand-alone services from HBO, Showtime and others will chalenge traditional pay-TV vendors. The firm tracks 26 leading digital pay-TV operators in the U.S. and Canada and represents 96% of the North American digital market. The U.S. satellite-TV market grew by 20,000 subscribers and IPTV U.S. operators added 1.16 million new subscribers in 2014. Cable continues to have subscriber losses, losing a total of 1.18 million during 2014.

Pioneer Car Audio Shows New Units –  The car electronics division of Pioneer is going to technology and automative events to demonstrate their systems incorporating head units with Apple Car Play and Android Auto smartphone control technology. They also will demonstrate their AppRadio 4 head unit, speakers and subwoofers. Shows in Austin TX, Pomona and Irvine CA will have their demonstrations this month.

Wireless Audio Beginning to Take Over – Whether we like it or not (wired is always more dependable, reliable and usually sounds better than wireless) the popularity of mobile devices and changing consumer habits in their consumption of media is increasing the demand for wirelessly connected audio devices. Research from IHS Technology shows that annual shipments of wireless speakers, soundbars and wirelessly-connected AV receivers are expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 88% to nearly 66 million units in 2018. An analyst stated: “…streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora, and Deezer, are collectively driving a behavioral shift in how people listen to music inside and outside their homes…” “Heavyweight [speaker manufacturers] Samsung, LG, Sony, Bose, Denon, DTS, and Qualcomm are all entering the market, with products or platforms designed to take on a rapidly growing segment initially popularized by Sonos.” Altho the prices for wireless multi-room speakers remain high for average consumers, this segment will soon redefine the home audio system concept in the consumer’s psyche, he observed. He also stated: “The decades-old traditional monolithic audio system concept is simply becoming an increasingly niche proposition, primarily for serious enthusiasts…Wireless multi-room audio systems will soon be what comes to consumers’ minds when they think about home audio.”

Object-Based Surround Coming to TV – The Advanced Television System Committee (ATSC) has begun to review three proposed audio formats for the next-generation ATSC 3.0 digital terrestrial TV standard. The three are Dolby’s AC-4, DTS:X (which includes DTS Headphone:X, enabling any stereo headphone to reproduce surround), and MPEG-H audio – from an alliance of Qualcomm, Technicolor and Fraunhaufer. ATSC 3.0 will also have personalization capabilities, dialog control, alternate audio tracks, assistive audio services, other-language dialog, special commentary, and music and effects. It will also normalize content loudness with dynamic-range contouring. About 60 sound tracks have been selected for the testing, and standardization will probably occur in 2016.

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