Loudspeaker Industry Sourcebook

LIS 2014

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2014 Loudspeaker Industry Sourcebook 12 QUESTIONS & ANSWERS Question 1: Do you believe there is a trend to bring back manufacturing/assembly to the US and other countries, at least regarding certain products where there is a need to protect their intellectual property (IP)? There is def initely a strong trend to bring back manufacturing to the US. Many US manufacturers over time have discovered the total cost of doing business in China and other countries is considerably higher than the cost of the product. When the total cost of doing business overseas is considered, the higher wages in the US become less of an obstacle. Certainly protecting intellectual property can be part of that emphasis, but I don't think that is a compelling reason for most of the loudspeaker industry. Question 2: Is the technology and the market place (choice of suppliers) evolving in such a way that it becomes viable for small start-ups to successfully enter the consumer audio market as we have seen with many fashion headphone brands? Depending on who you talk to, 75% to 90% of all new start-up companies fail. I don't think technology will change this at all. Getting into the market is relatively easy, and technology is changing that. However, with a new business, marketing trumps technology as the determining factor for success. Question 3: In the next five years, how do you think the following audio technologies will be impacted? • Bluetooth and streaming Bluetooth and streaming are currently having a great impact on low-cost audio products intended to work with smartphones. This will most likely continue with the possibility of these types of products moving upscale over the next five years. • Audio over IP (AoIP)/home networks SONOS products have been highly successful in the market, as witnessed by the huge number of competitors that are entering the AoIP market. As with Bluetooth, I expect this to creep into higher-end products within the next five years. • 3-D printers The largest area in the audio market for this technology is rapid prototyping. This will continue to play a big role in manufacturing. • Wearable technologies It's difficult to say what will happen with this technology. My intuition is that it will catch on as a fad for a period of time. But in the long run, I'm not certain if people want or need peripheral devices attached to their bodies. • Mobile apps There seems to be an unquenchable thirst for new things to do with your smartphone. I don't foresee any change in mobile apps' popularity any time soon. • High-resolution audio (e.g., DSD, DXD, etc.) DXD, which is basically high-definition pulse code modulation (HD PCM), will likely become an important recording format for professionals. DXD can then be translated to any resolution playback format desired. So it makes sense since there will continue to be a constant quest for better fidelity in digital audio. • New composite materials New materials have been driving product development for years. I can't imagine this will change in the near future. • Virtual acoustics (e.g., active processing—Meyer Sound Constellation type) Active processing to alter room acoustics as a technology has been steadily improving. Its success and effectiveness in small listening rooms is still questionable, but it is starting to make an impact in larger venues. Question 4: What was the most important technology that appeared in the audio industry during 2013? I think the most import technology is probably low-cost DSP. This is starting to make a lot of mainstream low-cost powered speakers available to the public. LIS Vance Dickason President, Vance Dickason Consulting

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