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ANALYSIS: HOME AUDIO Home Entertainment


Speaker power At the start of this year, Sony unveiled two new wireless home speakers equipped with its unique spatial sound technologies. The SRS- RA5000 and SRS-RA3000 offer a premium two-channel audio with ambient room-filling sound. Based on Immersive Audio Enhancement and 360 Reality Audio technologies, consumers can enjoy music through compatible streaming services, incorporating 3D sound location data – which means they can deliver the ultimate all- encompassing sound. Both speakers feature Sound Calibration that


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offers optimal sound performance wherever they are used. Simply hold the Immersive Audio Enhancement button on the RA5000 and it will conduct a detailed sound calibration adjustment for optimum audio performance for the room it is placed in. The RA3000, however, provides auto adjustment whenever it is turned on. There are connectivity options, too, with


Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Chromecast built-in. Both speakers also support Multi-room playback that lets users play the same, or different, songs in separate rooms at the same time via speaker groups set up with the Google Home or Amazon Alexa apps. For a smaller, more portable option, the latest


addition to JBL’s Charge series, the JBL Charge 5, is now available. Totally waterproof and dustproof, the speaker packs 20 hours of JBL Signature Pro Sound in a super rugged package. Complete with a new standout logo design and colourways.


ARCAM AV40 The Charge 5’s speaker blasts out JBL audio


and deep bass and it has an upgraded ‘Original Pro Sound’, utilising a newly optimised long excursion driver, a new separate tweeter and dual JBL bass radiators that deliver a rich and clear audio performance. Experiencing a “considerable increase” in


product demand across its audio technology offerings is Audio-Technica, according to Tanya Williams, Marketing Manager EMEA, Consumer. Serving a broad demographic, she says the reliable and trusted audio quality across all solutions and price points is the main draw for consumers. “Specific call-out ranges include our Mx series


headphones, our extensive turntable offering, VM95 series cartridges, 20 series microphones, ATR series microphones… and not to mention the very successful 2020 launch of our Content Creator Pack. “In 2021, we are expecting to still be in an


audio-first mind set and the trends that have built across the last 12 months will continue,” Ms Williams goes on. “One of our brand values is around how sound connects people, so we will be working hard on this mission to ensure people are able to connect using great sounding audio products.” Ms Williams was unable to share Audio-


Technica’s product plans in detail, but she did say the company was working on some exciting things – its portfolio expansion “will align with trends witnessed throughout 2020,” she says.


Market outlook Meanwhile, Carl Eagle, Head of Premium Audio at Exertis, says audio trends will be “very dependent” on when the UK emerges from the pandemic. “Just getting families and friends together


Denon's Home Soundbar 550


outside will drive Bluetooth and garden speakers a great deal. Plus, I’m pretty sure I am not the only one who indulged a little too much since lockdown one, so sports headphones for exercise will see another spike, I expect!”


Mr Eagle adds that the market outlook is a


double-edged sword – he wants consumers to keep spending on home audio, however, people going on holiday will hugely drive sales of headphones and portable Bluetooth speakers. He points out: “I can’t pre-empt any vendors’


product launches, but one of our great strengths is that whatever happens in the world – COVID being an extreme example – while some product categories suffer, others come to the fore and become central to our success in the market.” Looking ahead, Meters Music’s Mr Gooday


agrees, adding: “It’s been a tough time for all, so we expect an appetite from everyone to invest in entertainment, self-care, self-indulgence and other areas which have not been possible… or just for enjoyment!” He also reveals that we’ll see a host of new


products released over the next nine months – covering on-ear headphones, Bluetooth speakers, hi-fi, True Wireless stereo speakers and more – all of which will utilise the brand’s mobile app, which will itself continue to develop, he says. Harman’s Mr Clarke believes we will see a


number of mass-market streaming providers offering higher quality services, “which will become the norm as opposed to the preserve of ‘audiophiles’,” he says. “We see this as a hugely positive move; we firmly believe that a higher quality experience better connects you to the music and brings more enjoyment.” At Sound United/Denon & Marantz, Mr Kriete


and Mr Schulz are in agreement, but they are also expecting some progress on availability of hi-res streaming services – for music and movies. And after speaking about Denon’s latest products earlier on, the pair explain that others are in the pipeline for later this year, but they could not divulge any more information. In terms of consumer trends, they say: “Things


might slow down a bit, but we keep in mind all the happy users who invested in 2020 telling their friends about the great experience they made by upgrading their gear. And hopefully the friends are ready to follow!”


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