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Music, Music, Music

One major trend in the CE business I did not see coming is the glorious rebound of the home and portable audio categories.

Music plays a huge role in my life, and we are living in a golden age of audio. I consider myself lucky to be alive when I consider all the ways it has become easier and more convenient to consume music.

I can buy CDs, download tracks, stream from my computer or phone, hide away with my iPod, scour YouTube for videos, share, trade, rip. If it exists and I want to hear it, I am probably just a few clicks or swipes away from being able to play it instantly.

Of course, all this choice can also be a burden. I have always been a collector of music. I bought records and made mix cassette tapes, and then I started buying CDs. I eventually started downloading music and I now subscribe to both satellite radio and a premium streaming site. The result is a music collection in shambles. I have crates of vinyl, boxes of cassettes, CDs loaded into carousel players and stacked on shelves in portable cases. If I’m looking for a specific song or album, I often have to stop and try to remember what format(s) I own it on, or if I own it at all.

But it’s a nice problem to have and, as I tell my wife often, “One of these days I’m going to organize all my music.” (Really, honey, I swear …)

This week’s issue offers a number of insights into the resurgent audio category.

Q&A with Corey Lieblein of Innovative Technology, a company that is making a killing selling turntables for vinyl records. Yes, really. Corey is a very smart guy with an eye for design and saw a niche he could exploit in the nostalgia audio category. Granted, his turntables sport a lot of 21st-century technology, but, in the end, Corey makes the case that vinyl is here to stay — even his kids have discovered the medium.

Senior editor Joseph Palenchar reports that soundbars, made popular as companion devices for TVs and primarily used as quicker, cheaper home-theater setups, are increasingly being used for music playback. More than a third of soundbar owners are connecting a portable device to listen to audio.

Turning to the high-resolution audio revolution, TWICE asked representatives of the three largest global music companies — Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, and Universal Music Group — to provide an update on efforts to promote the high-res alternative and explain where the business is headed. Their comments were compiled by DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

A Loss For The Ages

Bob Abt, who passed away this month, was a true pioneer in the CE retail space. His Chicago-based mega-outlet has played the role of experimental lab for countless innovations in the way technology is sold. His management style was graceful, his merchandising flair legendary, and his resolve to remain a successful independent CE retailer is a template for every other dealer out there. But more than anything else, Bob was a prince of a man who made everyone around him better and smarter. He also laid a solid foundation for the continuing success of Abt Electronics. TWICE wishes his family the best.