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Home Audio: How Do We Get Out Of This Mess? (Part 1)

The economy has turned a corner, but the home audio industry sure hasn’t.

Factory-level component-audio sales have fallen to levels not seen since 1985, and that’s in unadjusted dollars. Combined factory sales of components and home systems fell below aftermarket car audio levels in the first half for the first time ever. Even high-flying home-theater-in-a-box (HTiB) sales slipped earlier this year before perking up again.

How did we get here, and how can we turn it around?

Those were the key issues posed to industry executives and representatives of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) during a roundtable discussion moderated by senior editor Joseph Palenchar.

Part I of the edited roundtable remarks focus on such topics as why step-up audio is being undersold, whether the industry is speaking to the nation’s youth, and whether the industry has begun taking the necessary steps to pull itself up by its bootstraps.

Part II, appearing in the Dec. 22 issue, will focus on the potential of emerging product categories, such as multichannel music, digital radio and new speaker designs.