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CEA Studies Consumer Demand For Sound Quality

2/23/2006 09:10:00 AM Eastern

New York — With the sales volume in portable audio now overshadowing sales in home audio separates and systems, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) sought to determine the new role of sound quality in the consumer’s audio purchase process.

According to CEA, portable audio sales are now hitting $10 billion annually, almost twice that of audio separates and systems, said Sean Wargo, CEA industry analysis director.

CEA surveyed 3,798 adults between Oct. 14 and Nov. 9 to attempt to gain a better understanding of how consumers view sound quality and the importance of sound quality in their purchases.

The study found that while 91 percent of consumers rated sound quality as important, only 30 percent of those who had bought an audio product, received a demonstration.

The study also found that of past electronics buyers, many did not understand typical audio specifications. Only 25 percent said that “sound pressure level” was a familiar term. Only 36 percent were familiar with the term “frequency response,” and 38 percent were familiar with “signal to noise ratio.” The greatest number of consumers ranked “surround sound listening modes” as the most important specification (73 percent of past buyers) followed by “watts of power” (65 percent).

Most respondents said they purchased their audio product at a general electronics store. Thirty-five percent of past HTiB purchasers said they bought the product from a general electronics store, as did 56 percent of A/V receiver purchasers and 41 percent of speaker purchasers. Fewer than 7 percent went to a local electronics store or a specialty electronics store.

Price was the main reason for the shoppers’ choice of store said 72 percent of past buyers, followed by selection (46 percent) and knowledgeable sales staff (28 percent).

Another finding of the CEA study was that many shoppers had not heard a “great” sounding system as a basis for comparison before shopping. Fifty-six percent of past audio buyers said they had heard a great sound system.Forty-six percent of people who planned to purchase audio equipment said they had heard a great sound system.

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