5 Aftermarket Leaders Speak Out

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KnowledgeFest 2016 town hall panel

Five leading car audio suppliers spoke out at the Town Hall meeting at KnowledgeFest on Saturday night claiming the aftermarket will survive the challenges ahead.

They gave a clear vision of the future of electronics, and how the aftermarket can maintain a role in it.

Jeff Fay of Harman said soon there will be little distinction between a car electronics product and a home or portable product.  We will simply use voice control over everything.  “When we walk into the kitchen, we’ll say, ‘make me a cup of coffee’ and when we get into the car, we’ll say, ‘set the temperature to 72 degrees.’  It’s going to be mind boggling.”

Town Hall Meeting at KnowledgeFest 2016
Town Hall Meeting at KnowledgeFest 2016

“When I’m brushing teeth Waze tells me there’s traffic and hurry up to make it to work on time.”

He reminded the audience that car audio was slow to embrace the iPod because it wasn’t a car stereo product and said we can’t afford to miss the next technology shift.

And the next shift is what he described as concierge voice control over everything (basically Amazon Alexa or Siri or Google Now). Others call it the Internet of Things or IoT.

But he made clear that issuing commands to Alexa from the couch will be different from doing so in the car and all of us, from retailers to suppliers, should look to  innovate in this area.

Many of the panelists at the Town Hall meeting reminded the industry to keep a focus on the “product” that has carried car audio for years–sound quality.

Manville Smith of JL Audio
Manville Smith of JL Audio

In autonomous cars, entertainment will be more necessary than ever as drivers can turn their attention from the road to other tasks.

Manville Smith of JL Audio said, “It will be awesome. The more driving becomes passive, the more people will be looking for engagement.  If you are not actively driving the car, you are going to want to be entertained.”

He added, “I don’t think most people out there have ever experienced that amazing sound that can be achieved in a car. What are we doing to get them that experience?  It used to be a kid with a truck would show another kid…”  He suggested retailers get involved in local concerts and invite people to listen to their demo car.

The Town Hall panel also included Brett Riggs of AAMP Global, Mark Rutledge of ADS, Bryan Schmitt of Mobile Solutions, and moderator Chris Cook of MEA, which sponsors KnowledgeFest.

Panelists suggested offering free Bluetooth clinics where anyone can come in to to the shop to have his or her phone paired, even it’s just with a factory radio.

We will reveal some of the other suggestions in a separate story.

But for now, the panelists were upbeat about the future of car audio and new driver safety.

Riggs said of new vehicle to vehicle, V2V, communication and vehicle to infrastructure ( traffic lights), V2I products, “I guarantee you we will adapt V2V and V2I into older vehicles.” And he said, “We will adapt and grow and we will be read for the future.  I guarantee that this industry will continue…”  Others on the panel made similar statements.

Rutledge said the car companies are collaborating with tech companies in order to keep up with technology and aftermarket suppliers should also collaborate with each other to stay ahead of the curve.

Schmitt stressed making car systems sound amazing. “What we do has to be great.  It’s got to be great every time…all the staff has to have the same work quality.  This is really important.”

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  1. I feel so much better that the industry has such heavyweights and fantastic insight. I, like many of the 12v dealers, REALLY need to know about self driving cars and the impact of this future technology.

    Unfortunately, unless we start focusing on getting more customers in the store, increasing our margins, increasing our ASP’s and letting customers know what is possible in their cars TODAY, all this discussion about the future is a pure waste of time… Amy, lead us with your divine understanding of the industry…

  2. I could not agree more with the comment about “PICKING YOUR PARTNERS.” With this evolution and advancing of car multimedia and the level of interfacing required to do so, who you work with from a vendor to client perspective is more crucial now than ever. They better be focused on OEM retention and integration and not just being a ME TOO company.

  3. Meanwhile at MiTek Corp (aka MTX AUDIO / AtlasIED) our largest customer is Cisco Systems. We work with multiple digital high-resolution Audio / Video protocols such as AES 67, Dante, AVB, Cobranet etc. We manufacture POE (power over ethernet) powered Speakers and AMPS chock full of our AtlasIED BlueBridge DSP and controlled by our IEDNET protocol. IEDNET will work with CAN bus, MOST (etc.) but is optimized for layer 3 routing. Our AtlasIED BlueBridge DSP systems run many of the worlds largest and most complex A/V systems and will be coming to a 12 volt shop near you in 2017. BobBg is right.. Technology is what is needed to save our industry and we are working night and day to get you something truly impressive to sell in 2017. Plug and Play is on the way.

    Learn more about MiTek and AtlasIED.





    We at MiTek / MTX Audio / AtlasIED are planing for the future of 12 volt, developing next generation technology and are committed to the 12 volt industry. For a person who may read this and say “A car is a very different environment than a Airport?!” They are right.. A car is a much smaller, less reverberant, better sounding environment where 1000+ channels of open architecture DSP is not needed. This is by far one of the easiest engineering projects our team of hardware and software designers have worked on for years. Take a few minutes to get to know the new MiTek / MTX AUDIO / AtlasIED. Please follow us on your preferred social media method to keep up to date on our Next Gen 12 volt product development.





    John Ivey
    MiTek / MTX AUDIO / AtlasIED

  4. I bring park sensors, backup cameras, headrest video in at 20% of the “holesale” manufacturer/distributor prices. trying hard to find value added from them-to no avail.
    I am buying someone’s boat but getting no boat rides.

  5. Agree with tony on this and also above make the retailers hapoier and let them earn more than minimum wage and more creative and cool things will emerge because they are happy about it and soing the job they really love and being paid well for aomething that isnt an easy job.
    We all know how much quality speakers cost really cost not what we pay as industry ir retailer or even distributors i mean end of the day if a shop is only makeing a 10 to 20 % profit of the stuff they are doing which is rare then why would they bother going the extra mile i can reproduce most every brand and sound from any country either thru korea Taiwan china or many asian countrys and because there costs are low we just buy from them and make new brands there has been so many brands come and go because of this because the socalled leaders of the industry are making there expected 280%profit and letting the people doinh the work only get a slim peice of pie i understand audiophile hugh end as i am one and i build aswell so i know how much it costs to make a sound quality car that will whip most anything it goes against same for the loud stuff and the sql gear but why do we have to rockford recently released some new subs big odd size 16″19″ sql type but the realeased them at 2000bucks to public now come on simply not gonna work great subs but far far far to expensive realize everyone needa a good slice of pie and then the awsomeness and wildly cool integration ideas come out spl and sql and sq guys already use pcs and and tablets woth voice control but most just buy normal head units that do just enough and the rest is done by the pc or blackbox pc or a combination of hacks to other peoducts making the car android and windows or mac compatiable a rasberry pi computer is tiny little more than a few of them are used when the big boys dont do it the installers and audio wlectrictions and heek sheeks among us get to building and hacking so catch up as some of us are way ahead of you guys already u guys just have stop trying to chagre 2000 bucks for something that cost 100 bucks to make its just nit rite

  6. BOB is spot on. Pick your partners my brothers and sisters…. they better be focused on the aftermarket and not their “wallets”….

  7. If Paring a phone Bluetooth is to high tec for somone then almost anything else will also be.
    you are thinking in terms of radio, you forget computers can do everything 100% better, you can do audio, internet speech run your av or hvac system control things in your home from your car. Look at the stock market in real time, set appointment’s for the office for the day book appointment’s with clients, talk to clients wile behind the wheel with video voice contact, play games watch movies, set up your dvr at home. Its endless what you could do on the move in your car. We are on the brink of a technology revolutions the likes we have never seen. Now that is mind boggling. The Bluetooth is just a glimpse of what can be done.
    PC today can boot up in 15 second into a full windows operating system or even faster into some other programs, and believe it or not your hand held phone has the ability to do most of what I just said.
    This could be seamless with universal protocols like “plop and play”, not plug and play but just set down the tablet or phone and away you go.
    You think phones now are powerful now wait 2 years hell wait 10 minutes and its already outdated. That is how fast things are moving.

    You guys are not seeing the big picture, and auto manufactures will have to adapt to this at some point. This could be the universal device to stay in business with. Get on-board or move aside.
    Alpine inter-phase, Ken-wood inter-phase, JL Audio inter-phase, Yamaha inter-phase Deon inter-phase Rotel inter-phase ex….. ( Rockford, MTX, Audio Control, ex..)
    Add on’s and upgrades might be slip in a new main board module with built in amp system into the factory system/wires.
    Modular speaker systems, pull out the factory and slip in the aftermarket upgrade with no wire connections to make and a seamless install.
    What used to take 5 hours or a full day to do will take 30 minutes for a head-unit and 4 speakers with alarm and remote start and sub-woofer system, and back seat entertainment system.

    The factory will get on board because it was all developed by the aftermarket for dealer install or aftermarket dealer install. Quick fast perfect sound and correct wires and everything works together automatically via data communication’s presets.

    Your customer will pick his wallpaper as its being installed in the bay and drive away with a new system he’s fully able to use on anything in the car or at his home or office.
    It goes from the car to the house….
    Smaller aftermarket manufactures will not be able to keep up with it and go under like dominoes.

  8. This sounds great I have audio shops
    Since 1989 and I have seen it grow since then
    A lot out there still a major problem for all the
    Car audio stores it’s called the Internet
    The manufacturers allowing them to advertise
    At our below cost it’s great to be a head of the
    Curve but at no profit doesn’t make it really
    Exciting for the retail shop raise the map
    Pricing on the Internet then car audio shops
    Will be happy again

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