Audio News for February 1, 2006

by | Feb 1, 2006 | Audio News | 0 comments

Obstacles to Home Theater Useage Identified – A recent NPD Group survey found that practical challenges were the main reasons why the majority of households don’t own a home theater setup.  It also found that about half of home theater owners use home audio components in their systems and only 30% use home-theater-in-a-box systems. 10% have already added satellite radio and/or MP3 players to their current systems and another 10% plan to do so in the next year. 5,419 online adults were sampled in the survey and 58% claimed a physical limitation as the reason for not owning a home theater system. 26% said their room was too small and 23% objected to running wires thruout the room. Another 9% said they didn’t want to reconstruct or remodel to accommodate a home theater system. The NPD concluded that “the importance of sound quality is something that came through loud and clear among respondents.” They observed that audio suppliers should alter their current product designs to convince the large and untapped market of consumers without home theater to make the purchase.

Trends Seen at CES – It was more than obvious at the recent Consumer Electronics Show that home audio suppliers want to participate in the MP3 explosion thru building MP3 player connectivity into more of their products. Flash-memory boom boxes were shown by some firms, and some MP3 portables were able to time-shift satellite radio content when plugged into an XM-ready home docking station.  Several makers showed XM-ready components, even as a feature of an LCD TV. A new category of HTiB has appeared: various technologies to create 5.1 soundfields from just a pair of speakers or a pair plus a subwoofer. Wireless surround speakers are another trend seeking to answer the objection of many users to running cables to the surrounds.  Pioneer aimed to reduce clutter even further by packing all the audio electronics including amps into the subwoofer enclosure. More of the two-channel shelf systems included DVD players as well as MP3 player connections. In loudspeakers – the one audio area which hasn’t suffered lagging sales as much as the electronics – the focus was on design-oriented models to go with the hot flat panel video displays and narrow-depth rear-projection HDTVs.  The focus is on long and narrow enclosures with a small footprint, and the speakers are often suggested for wall-hanging [good luck getting good sound that way…Ed.]  Jamo and others introduced enclosure-less speakers. Table radios are still around, and are being brought up to date with XM-radio capability (Crosley and Eton) and the new digital HD Radio technology (Boston Acoustics).

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