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Component Audio Sounding Sweet

LAS VEGAS — The home component-audio industry is sounding sweet, giving suppliers the confidence here at International CES to expand their selections or launch products at the extreme high end.

Companies expanding their lines include GoldenEar Technology, Cary Audio and Antelope Audio.

Companies showing little trepidation about launching products at the extreme high end include JBL, which is launching speakers at $75,000/pair and $10,000/pair.

For its part, Mark Levinson has targeted $30,000 as the suggested retail of its 40th Anniversary 52 Reference dual-monaural preamplifier, positioned as the brand’s best-ever.

Dealers will also find a growing selection of digital media speakers from component-audio companies, some incorporating stereo Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Some of the new Wi-Fi speakers feature Apple’s AirPlay, but others feature technology to stream music from both Android and Apple smartphones. Wi-Fi streaming speakers will be shown by component companies Klipsch and Polk Audio. Pure Audio (see story at right) and Audiovox will join them.

Select component-audio companies are also launching their first Bluetooth speakers, including Klipsch and Definitive Technology.

The products enter a market in which component- audio sales are booming. Factory-level sales of all component electronics, including receivers, rose 13.3 percent through September 2012 to $416.8 million, Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) statistics show. Within the electronics segment, receiver sales rose 14.3 percent to $371.8 million even though unit sales fell 2.3 percent to 1.08 million.

Factory-level sales of component speakers also surged in 2012, rising 8.9 percent through October to $658.3 million despite a 4.1 percent drop in unit sales to 6.3 million. Dollar growth came in many segments, with sales of shelf, floor, in-wall, in-ceiling and surface-mount speakers rising a combined 19.2 percent in dollars to $254.1 million. Combined unit sales were up 21 percent to 2.25 million units.

The fastest-growing speaker segment was soundbars, which through October posted a 37.6 percent gain to $229.7 million on unit growth of 38.4 percent to 1.36 million units.

Sales of compact shelf-type audio systems and HTiBs didn’t fare nearly as well. Shelf-system unit sales fell through October by 9 percent to 1.2 million units, though dollar volume rose 2 percent to $174.2 million. Sales of HTiBs plummeted 17 percent in units to 1.47 million, and dollar volume fell 19 percent to $363.9 million.