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Celebrating The Resurrection Of Component Audio

Written off as dead by some people only a few years ago, component audio has been resurrected, the latest CEA forecasts show. Combined sales of receivers, speakers and other audio separates rose 17.3 percent in 2012 to $1.58 billion at the factory level following an 11.7 percent gain in 2011 and a 36.3 percent gain in 2010. That followed an 18.4 percent drop in 2009 and a 14 percent drop in 2008.

Component audio sales are forecast to rise 4.8 percent in 2013 and 2.1 percent in 2014.

Receiver sales surged 17.8 percent in 2012 to $579 million but will rise only 1 percent in 2013. Dollars are up despite a 4 percent drop in 2012 unit sales and a forecast 1 percent drop in units in 2013.

The real strength in components is in speakers, whose dollar volume rose 19.8 percent in 2012 to $964 million and are forecast to rise 7.5 percent in 2013 to $1.04 billion. In 2014, forecast growth slips to 3.2 percent.

Much of the speaker surge is attributable to active and passive soundbars, whose sales surged 46.4 percent in 2012 to $328 million and are forecast to rise 18.3 percent in 2013 to $388 million. CEA projects soundbar growth through 2016, though at single-digit rates starting in 2014.

For perspective, the component industry still falls well short of its 1990 peak of $1.93 billion – and that’s not even in inflation-adjusted dollars. But component home audio has emerged from the abyss after hitting its lowest point in decades in 2009 at $882 million.

And if the business does grow 4.8 percent in 2013 as forecast, it’ll be doing a lot better than the national economy.