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Stereo, Home Theater Audio Reinvent Themselves

Talk about stress. In recent years, the home audio industry reeled as pricey high-definition displays soaked up consumer’s disposable income, the iPod frenzy commanded consumers’ attention, and the PC turned into a main home audio source.

The pressure, however, has abated somewhat, for several reasons. The free-fall in high-definition TV prices is leaving consumers with more money to spend on the audio portion of their high-definition experience. Product designs now complement flat-panel displays. And home components and home theater systems have begun to incorporate video-enhancing technologies to stoke consumers’ interest.

In addition, audio components and systems have begun to passionately embrace the PC/IT technologies that captured consumer excitement and stole attention and disposable dollars. Home audio components and systems, for example, are networking with the PC, docking with iPods and MP3 players and streaming Internet radio stations. They’re also embracing satellite radio and HD radio.

For the most part, the developments have begun to lift the audio-component sector, but suppliers also hope for a turnaround in sales of home theater systems and two-channel compact audio systems.

To discuss these trends TWICE assembled a virtual panel of leading audio suppliers who were asked to respond by e-mail to questions. In Part 1 of our report (Part 2 will appear tomorrow) here’s what they had to say: