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Who Buys Two-Channel?

Who exactly is buying two-channel component-audio systems?

At volume price points, consumers are buying two-channel audio receivers to replace their old stereo receivers or to step up to a two-zone stereo receiver to fill two rooms with sound, said Sherwood senior VP Jeff Hipps.

For two-channel and multichannel McIntosh equipment, the typical customer is a guy in the 30 to 35 age group, “then it stops until about 50 to 55, when the kids are out of college,” said McIntosh president Charlie Randall.

Audio Advice’s two-channel customers include some new blood that has been exposed to high-performance audio as well as existing two-channel owners who are trading up. “Recently, a guy who bought from us 25 years ago [said] the kids are now out of the house and he’s ready to upgrade,” owner Leon Shaw recounted.

Many of Sixth Avenue Electronics’ two-channel customers are in their 50s or late 40s, once owned a two-channel component system, then moved to home-theater systems or high-end table radios, operations VP Tom Galanis said. “Now they realize they miss their two-channel system.”

Sixth Avenue, however, also sees a younger demographic coming in to “trade up to better sound,” he said, in some cases adding iPod docks to a two-channel system.

Younger people who find it hip to play vinyl records are also coming to Sixth Avenue for the two-channel components required by turntables. These include a phono pre-amp, which is lacking in home theater in a box systems and most receivers less than $500, Galanis noted.