Hi-Res Audio is Back on the Rise

share on:
Sony RSX-GS9

Life may be returning to Hi-Res Audio when it comes to the car stereo market.

Only a year ago, we were hard-pressed to find a 12 volt dealer running Hi-Res Audio demos in his shop.

Now some of the leading car audio buyers say the format it starting to catch on.

They credit two forces for the renewed interest. Streaming services are offering higher quality options so users are learning about better sound in general.  Second, car radio makers are including Hi-Res Audio FLAC playback in relatively inexpensive decks.

2018 could be the “break out year” in Hi-Res Audio, said Jim Warren, VP Merchandising & Marketing of 50 -store, Seattle-based Car Toys. “Hi-Res Audio, while still in it’s infancy, is showing positive signs.  We are seeing sales occurring and enthusiasm from our store teams in using Hi-Res as the best source for in store demonstrations. 2018 could be a break out year.”

And as we reported, a seminar on Hi-Res Audio was one of the best attended at the recent KnowledgeFest, drawing a crowd of close to 300 people.

Crutchfield is also seeing more interested in Hi-Res. Carl Mathews Senior Director of Mobile Merchandising said the feature is helping to sell those car radios that include Hi-Res FLAC playback.  “It’s a nice extra story to tell when we sell those units and I think there’s been an uptick in sales of those units because of that. Suppliers seem to be putting it in more products and I think it’s a good strategy,” he added.

Focal’s Nalaka Adikari said,”Honestly, I think that it’s grown by leaps and bounds in the last 12 months. More dealers are taking it on, demonstrating it and selling it.” He also said Focal is receiving more questions on HRA from dealers.

There’s an old saying, “as the home audio market goes, so goes car audio” and Hi-Res Audio sales have more than doubled over the past two years in the home audio market.

According to The NPD Group, HRA sales rose 118 percent (2016 over 2014) in units and 77 percent in dollars.

The most dramatic growth is in headphones, which now account for 13 percent of the total Hi-Res Audio market. One reason is that more HRA headphones are available. From the first half last year to the first half this year, the number of HRA headphones grew by 127 percent. And prices for the feature fell by 14 percent (although HRA headphones are still on average 4 times more expensive than non-HRA models), according to NPD.

“New product introductions have helped spur the growth of Hi-Res across audio categories,” said NPD executive analyst Ben Arnold. “As more consumers get a chance to experience Hi-Res and as more content becomes available, sales growth of these devices will continue.”


Want to receive industry news? Sign up here
share on:


  1. In olden times when there was no Internet to serve as the vehicle to provide information to consumers, they learned from the store where the new stuff was sold and word of mouth from the early adoptors who learned from the stores where the new stuff was sold…
    Who was the first consumer to demand a micro wave oven?
    Who was the first consumer to demand a cell phone?
    Who was the first consumer to demand keyless entry?
    Who was the first consumer to demand a sub woofer and big amplifier?
    Who was the first consumer to demand email?
    who was the first consumer to demand Alexa and Echo?
    Pardon me for the repetition BUT the first consumer to demand any of the above products was the guy who was introduced to it buy the first guy who was selling it.
    Specialty retailers have terrific opportunities every day to create new demand for every consumer who calls or walks in. High Res Audio is a perfect example of a product/service that specialty retailers can be the champion of and experts about. That generally means the early adoptors will tell their friends what it is and where to get it. Create demand for the early adoptors among your loyal customers and their friends will buy from you.
    Wait for someone else to create the demand for your early adoptor customers and they and their friends will buy from someone else.

    1. Its more like they just dont understand the language we use to sell it to them. They like better sound. I doubt there are many humans that dont.

      You cant just start giving them a college level course on file formats, compression codecs, audio theory, etc.. Our job is to translate that stuff down to simple terminology.

      Just make sure they have Spotify or Pandora Premium with the extreme quality setting turned on. Hook them up with a BT radio that supports APTX/AAC (as long as their phone does too) and you’ve pretty much blown their mind at that point…

      Once they SEE the difference it makes in the sound quality, they will open up and THEN you can start educating them on how to pick speakers, amps, subs etc.

Comments are closed.