Connected Audio ANALYSIS

Dealers let the music speak


Connected audio is all the rage with streaming consumers, but is the industry fi ghting the tide or going with the fl ow? Steve May fi nds outs.

M oney talks. And so do smart speakers.

Connected audio is largely responsible for a surge in the worldwide home Hi-Fi market, which leapt 20 per cent in 2018 (topping 154 million units). It’s expected to exhibit similar growth this year, too. Guy Hammett, Market Analyst at Futuresource Consulting, describes the wireless speaker category as “the shining star of home audio,” and smart speakers now account for over 40 per cent of all wireless speaker demand. Wi-Fi penetration, smart home devices and

strength of platforms and ecosystems are all cited as reasons for their widespread adoption. Voice control is already migrating from standalone speakers to other components, such as soundbars. Mal Fisher, Chief Technology Officer at distributor

AWE, suggests this sonic boom provides a golden opportunity for dealers to demonstrate their value over online sales. From demo to install, there are ample opportunities to take this beyond the simple box sale, he tells ERT. Mr Fisher reports an increasing number of

retailers are adding value to the box by integrating a control solution. “This is largely for convenience for the homeowner, but the more connected devices the consumer has, the more important it is for the retailer to make them easy to use,” he suggests. “In-store demo spaces offer the chance to experience, learn, and interact with products, and see how they can be connected to wider control systems. It gives retailers the opportunity to sell and install complete solutions. We’ve seen and heard some great results from dealers who have curated the whole experience for their clientele, and we hope that more will rise to that challenge.” Training is key to unlocking the potential of connected audio, he notes, and AWE, through its Smart Home Academy, now offers a range of bespoke training courses to deliver the essential knowledge required to successfully understand, sell, and install connected audio products. “It offers a range of product specific training alongside skills-based training, aimed at both beginners and advanced retailers,” says Mr Fisher.

Naim Audio’s Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation streamer

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