By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
TWICE: Will HD DVD and Blu-ray have any impact on sales of home audio electronics and speakers, in terms of sales or product features?
Bales: Yes, we are very confident that high-definition packaged optical disc formats will positively impact home audio in both sales and product features. Key features will be HDMI output, video scaling up to 1,080p for DVD playback, and HD audio decoding from both DTS and Dolby Digital, as well as enhanced speaker performance to all take advantage of the improved "bit for bit" audio resolutions.
Bente: Any new entry into the source components category has the ability to stimulate home audio electronics and loudspeaker sales, especially one that carries the claim of better performance. No doubt, we are upping the ante by including more HDMI and 1,080p compatibility in our audio/video receivers and processors as this technology takes hold.
Klipsch: Yes, I believe that HD DVD and Blu-ray will have an impact on the sale of loudspeakers. As I mentioned earlier, consumers are really focused on video options right now, and these improved formats should help swing the pendulum. After all, what good is a high-quality format without high-quality audio performance to back it up? You won't get a dynamic experience by skimping on the speakers.
The only problem I see is that consumers are confused as to what format is better. It's almost like the days of VHS vs. Beta. For the audio industry, however, it won't really matter which one prevails because both have the ability to increase the demand for quality speakers.
Mintz: We expect that the Blu-ray Disc format will have a positive impact on the sales of home audio products over time based on a number of factors, including the emergence of 7.1-channel surround, with adoption of the next version of HDMI 1.3 and the distribution of Blu-ray Disc music titles. Already, major music labels including Sony BMG and Universal Music are part of the Blu-ray Disc Association and support the format. In addition, Blu-ray Disc features special audio-only functionality within its format, meaning that there should be more potential product options for the music industry and consumers alike.
TWICE: Will the HD DVD and Blu-ray formats turn into multichannel audiophile music formats, given their ability to store uncompressed multichannel PCM audio in up to 192kHz/24-bit quality?
Bales: After the performance of DVD-A and SACD, we don't anticipate that the music industry will be immediately embracing HD audio only. They will likely be hard at work on the compressed music business relationships with Apple, Microsoft, cellphone companies, etc. However, we do see concert and music videos taking full advantage of HD audio.
Bente: Every time we have asked the end user to sit in the middle of the orchestra or band (unassisted by video), he or she has said, "No thanks." Will history repeat itself this time? Film at 11. We see the real benefits here being higher audio and video resolution and greater storage capacity
Mintz: While it's still early in the game, there is considerable interest among content providers — studios, music labels and games developers alike — in tapping into the potential of 7.1-channel surround sound. One of the primary benefits of Blu-ray Disc is that it offers content providers a wide range of options with 50GB of storage capacity. While it may seem today like multichannel music in the home is, as you suggest, a "small niche," we should also consider the combined impact that the availability of movies, games and music titles all offering 7.1 channel surround can have on the market. Over time, we expect consumer interest in multichannel audio applications to naturally increase as manufacturers launch 7.1 hardware and more content becomes available.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.