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Challenges, Opportunities Seen For Component Audio

The majority of households don’t own a home theater because of practical challenges, including small room sizes and a disinclination to run exposed wires to connect components, according to an NPD Group survey of consumers.

The survey also found that most home theater owners use home audio components in their systems rather than home-theater in a box (HTiB) systems and that many consumers plan to add satellite radio or MP3 players to their current home theater systems.

The results underscore the need for audio component suppliers to develop new products that accommodate new music sources and erect fewer practical or aesthetic objections to installing a home theater surround-sound system, the company said.

For the survey, NPD polled a nationally balanced sample of 5,419 online adults in September.

The results, said to be representative of all U.S. households, show that 58 percent of consumers claimed a physical limitation as the reason for not owning a home theater system. A total of 26 percent said their room was too small, and 23 percent objected to running exposed wires throughout the room. Another 9 percent said they didn’t want to reconstruct or remodel their home to accommodate a home theater system.

The responses should encourage audio suppliers to alter their current product designs, said Ross Rubin, industry analysis director. Suppliers should also consider evolving their designs to accommodate new music sources such as satellite radio and MP3 players, he added. Ten percent of home theater owners, NPD said, plan to add an MP3 player or satellite radio receiver to their home theater systems in the next 12 months. Ten percent already have connected satellite radio to their home theater, and more than 4 percent have already connected an MP3 player.

Based on the results, NPD also concluded that “the importance of sound quality is something that came through loud and clear among respondents.” Among home theater owners, more than half connected audio components to their display and video sources, while only 30 percent opted for an HTiB. Another 10 percent simply connected a stereo system to a TV.

Despite the encouraging news for audio suppliers, Rubin continued, “There’s a large, untapped market of consumers who don’t have home theaters and may need some convincing to get them to make the purchase.”