Car Amps/Subs Down, But Maybe Not So Much

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Car amplifier and subwoofer sales are off by double digits according to NPD, but specialists are seeing slimmer declines, say industry members.

NPD said year-to-date sales of amplifiers fell 12 percent through May and subwoofer sales dropped 22 percent in the same period over last year (in dollar sales to consumers). The declines are on top of a bad year in 2009: amps were off 26 percent this time last year and subs were down 19 percent. But the picture may be brighter at the car audio specialists. Some say more of the amplifier and subwoofer business is going to the specialists, and less so to big box stores, and many specialists are not tracked by NPD.

JL Audio said its sales are up by double digits over 2009. Memphis and another leading amplifier/speaker company each said their sales were down by single digits.

Mark Miller of Westminster Speed and Sound in Westminster, MD claims, “More and more of the amp and speaker business is going to the specialists…[many of whom] are not reporting to NPD. I think in that category sales are flat. I ran my numbers with JL …and I’m up with JL by 10 percent. My Kenwood business is growing…I think it’s down in the big boxes.”

Miller challenged us to run a poll on the 12vinsider bulletin board asking car stereo specialists how amps and subs are selling. We got a half dozen responses who claimed sales were mainly flat or slightly down, but some stores were up considerably. Not exactly scientific, but it appears specialists may be seeing slimmer declines in the segment.

Source: CEoutlook

Photo: JL Audio car amplifier

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  1. Our amp sales are down 16% and our subwoofer sales are down almost 20%. I could go on and on about how bad the industry is right now but I’m sure it will make no difference. The internet is a great marketing and educating tool. However, it had desimated profits in many industries not just the 12 volt industry. When I was a kid, I used to look at car audio out of magazines. There was always Crutchfield that all of us could turn to for information. The pricing was in line too. I worked for a AV retailer while I was in high school so I remember how much profit there was for even Crutchfield. Now because of the internet being what it is, it is the “Crutchfied” if you will of today’s age. The big problem with that is the customer can simply press “buy online” and presto, someone, somewhere is selling that product at or below cost. I have told it over and over to my reps. And as always, they respond by saying “you need to create a more exciting buying experience for them” or “don’t worry about it, you’re the specialist and they will sense that if you portray confidence in your sales ability”…….whatever. Easier said then done. The real problem at this point is that we don’t even get the customer in the door! No matter how much you advertise. You have a product in your display that retails for $299. The customer has seen it online from 20 different sites for $160. So, they automatically assume that product should be in the $175-$200 range. When they come in you door and see it for $299 they assume you are ripping them off. So my many many retail 12 volt friends, how do we combat that?!?! The answer to this question is ultimately our future in the 12 volt industry. That’s just the facts and it seems as though too many are afraid to face it before it runs its course and we can no longer change it.

  2. I have seen a growth in my amp/sub sales. I have added brands that are more for guys like me…little shop huge service and I know the lines. When I stated my own sub line sales jumped…even the brand names. Specialists> big box in that area. Service and knowledge

  3. How many millions vehicles over 5 years old are on the road? How many new and used vehicles do not have the built in connectivity solutions our consumers want? (or WOULD want if they knew about it) How many people with high end home theater systems settle for “good enough” sound in their vehicles? The opportunity is still enormous! And will continue to be. Yet we as an industry have yet to find a way to come together in a meaningful way to inform the consumer. We as an industry have not agreed that there must be minimum standards for our stores, and MECP certification REQUIRED to work on customer vehicles. Our industry, and our window of opportunity shrinks by the minute. Nero fiddled as Rome burned. How unfortunate. We can do better.

  4. This is 100% the case, as our sub and amp numbers are up over 27% from last year at this time, and we only sell to the specialist dealers! This is a product category that is tough for the big box stores to handle with the sales people they have on the floor. Everyone of our authorized dealers is focused on doing a better demo to get the sale. Most shops have a demo vehicle on hand or right outside the front door. In most cases every time a consumer sees a car in their area it has the local car audio stores name on the back of it, think about it how many times do these guys see a loud car going by with a Best Buy sticker on it that is one of the reasons we promote our dealers to cut vinyl logos and put them on every car they work on!

    Joe Belmonte
    Elevation Audio
    7850 Route5
    Clinton, NY 13323
    315.853.5831 Phone
    [email protected]

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