Thoughts on the State of Home Audio
In a recent interview with TWICE Magazine Tom Summer of Yamaha shared some thoughts on the state of home audio. The following are excerpts from that interview.
What is Yamaha? - Tom states that Yamaha is the largest musical instrument in the world and that they produce 25% of the musical instruments that are sold world wide. Music and sound are Yamaha’s expertise.
What is the Heath of the Home Audio Market? - It's healthy overall. Headphones are doing great, although, Yamaha is not a big player in that market. Smart Speakers, Sound Bars, and two channel are doing quite well. AVRs are are so so. It's actually down 3% but four or five years ago the AVR market was considered doomed.
Most of the sales were to 40, 50, and 60 year olds replacing gear to support newer technologies. Recently things have started to turn around with buyers in their 20s and 30s entering the market. Yamaha is not totally down on their future. They still have some customers that are not dying off.
Who are you selling to now? - The replacement market is a driver. Consumers who wish to use the latest technology like 4K and HDR are needing newer receivers. For younger buyers it's all about an immersive gaming experience. Finally, families still want a great experience when watching Netflix and Blu-rays.
What are the Important Features? - Simplicity is key but the most important feature is great immersive sound. However with immersive sound comes dialog that is hard to hear. Yamaha has developed Surround:AI (Artificial Intelligence) to make dialog easier to hear during loud action scenes. The other pain for consumers are the rear speakers. For that they have developed MusicCast Surround which is a wireless solution for the surround speakers.
What is the Biggest Market Challenge? - Time for people to sit and enjoy their system. Tom mentions that in Europe it's common for people to go home from work and pour a glass of wine to relax while playing music. In the US it's about squeezing in 30 minutes at lunch to stream the latest episode of a Netflix show. If you are not spending time with your TV then you really don’t need a sophisticated system.
What is Yamaha’s Play in the Smart Home? - Yamaha is all in on Alexa. They have incorporated the technology on quite a few products. The issue they have is when you are playing the music loud Alexa can’t always here you. Apparently the solution is more microphones.
What is on the Roadmap? - Building out the MusicCast platform. Further improvements to the Vinyl 500 wireless turntable. Continue to develop two channel products. There has been great growth in the two channel market. It's still small but there seems to be a resurgence in high quality audio.