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.”