Nearly All 12V Amp Makers Will Offer This Soon

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The market for digital signal processing (DSP) is heating up fast, if the number of suppliers entering the segment is an indication.

Phoenix Gold, Cerwin-Vega and PowerBass are each planning to offer their first DSP. Massive Audio just began shipping one. JL Audio is planning two new processors. And Cadence and Rare Audio showed them at CES. Plus Mosconi and Helix are adding new DSP models.

Additionally, more companies are adding DSP to amplifiers including Kicker and JBL. AudioControl is planning a DSP/amp and Rockford is considering one.

Currently signal processors sell at a rate of only $2 to $3 million annually (wholesale), according to the Consumer Electronics Association. But AudioControl believes they could become a $25 million market over the next several years.

“Certainly, the DSP category is poised for growth because it’s the ONLY appropriate way for the aftermarket to keep up with the OEMs. The obstacles for that growth lie in installer training,” said Andy Wehmeyer of Audiofrog.

“With the cars coming with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, it’s going to be much harder to change head units,” said Phoenix Gold’s Ken Wiseman. “So to get aftermarket stereo into those vehicles, you’ll need some kind of processor to integrate with them.”

Cerwin-Vega’s Larry Frederick said, “The only way to go is DSP.”

But DSPs are not an easy product to sell and install and a massive dealer education program will be required. On the other hand, the products cannot be easily installed in the driveway by DIY’ers, which could prove an advantage for specialist retailers who invest in proper product training.

When the processor is not properly tuned it can actually make the system sound worse. And a full hour or two of tuning may be required on some of the DSP models.

One technical support manager said, “The tech support calls will soar by 300 or 400 percent” once his company offers DSP. “It’s going to be ugly,” he added.

Rockford, which sells the current 3Sixty said it doesn’t see the category taking off at retail until suppliers are able to offer DSPs with an “EZ button” that offers good sound and then a means to tweak the system further for those who want even better sound. Said Dan Bowman…”There’s a steep learning curve. It takes an hour or two to fully tune a vehicle to get the sound you are looking for.”

DSPs convert an audio signal to multiple digital channels that can be manipulated to control crossovers, equalization, time alignment and compression. Then you can also add channel summing and OEM integration so the DSP becomes a gateway for adding aftermarket amplifiers and speakers to a factory radio.

Source: CEoutlook


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  1. This is disturbing…

    Here we have an industry vet and highly respected for his work on the subject and the responses range from “let the customer decide” to “buy better gear”!

    Last I remember the job of the industry was to assemble the best and brightest that have interest in the industry, arm them with knowledge, train them so they build up their skills, and then let them address consumers and solve challenges.

    If we keep throwing up garbage responses to shoot down products like DSP are we not admitting that we are failing the consumer by not embracing tools that help us get to better sound as defined by scientific research?

    If we are pushing aside that research in an effort to assert our own perspectives on what sounds good, are we contributing to the demose of our industry?

    If we need to simplify everything down to a one button EZ Setup system, does that not suggest that the health of our installer base is woefully under skilled and something needs to be done ?

    If the industry develops solutions that dealers can’t implement one thing is certain…the OEM will dominate long into the future.

  2. If you’re interested in learning a straightforward process that makes tuning cars predictable and profitable, please come to Knowledgefest in Dallas next month.

    While there are some adjustments that listeners like to make to suit their preferences, there is a baseline that makes many consumers happy and gets the other ones much closer to their ideal.

    Andy Wehmeyer
    Audiofrog, Inc.

  3. Sound is only what it is precised by the listener.
    No 2 ears are the same and no 2 speakers are the same to many variable’s.
    I can’t see how one installers preconception of sound is going to make any one customer happy. Speakers are all made of different materials, and all of them have there own tonal quality, what might sound good to you could sound harsh to me.
    Then there is always trying to get what the original recording sounded like.
    This is even a daunting task in home audio let alone an auto’s environment.
    I think an auto tune method with fine tune capability is the only way to go forward with this.
    The fine tune would be with the customer in the car stating what sounded good to them.
    Also you won’t spend the day setting up one car and can work on something else wile the car set’s itself up automatically, and the sales staff can walk through the fine tune with the customer with a smart phone and Bluetooth connection, that can be shut off after the system is set up. OR offer to sell the program to them so they can fine tune it later or anytime they like. Yet more ways to add to your bottom line after the sale.
    You have to think 5 steps before the factor we always have. In 5 years this will become a factory option, and we find something new to play with. Whats new?

  4. dsp sounds like crap. use some nice focals and a butler tubedriver for real sound.

    1. But if your head unit isn’t sending individual FULL rand outputs then you’re just amplifying and hearing more crap.

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