The vast majority of car audio dealers, up to 90 percent, are still burying their heads in the sand when it comes to Digital Signal Processing (DSP) devices, according to our poll of industry members.
But DSP is a key tool for the aftermarket to gain entry into newer cars, and it represents a means of ensuring the viability of the aftermarket as cars grow even more complex.
Plus DSP can make a car sound great.
Ken Ward who is a former IASCA judge and who runs Educar Training said DSP can make a car sound better today “than I would have dreamed I could make a car sound when I started 30 years ago.”
There’s a high learning curve to install and adjust DSP, but the rewards can include higher ticket sales and an advantage over a retailer’s competitors.
“The numbers say that we’re not supporting DSP as a category yet. …I can say, generally, many DSP manufacturers don’t feel they’ve found the secret formula to adoption,” said Ward. “The number of DSP-enabled products we’ve seen introduced in the last five years have outpaced our ability to support them.”
Ten years ago, tuning involved setting a crossover. Now, with DSP you have about 40 or 50 adjustments just to get the crossovers playing and hundreds of settings on the eq. Then there’s time delay settings. And there’s very little instruction on how to set up DSP. Most of the instruction is about connecting wires, said Ward.
DSP therefore requires learning a set up process, and then about a dozen hours of hands on experimentation with the products, he said.
Orca Design & Mfg. (Focal, Mosconi) said it has simplified its training and added some audio basics to try to address the problem. It teaches things like level matching, and source to amp gain setting. “Then we have a 7-step DSP training,” said Sales Director Nalaka Adikari.
Dealers are also overwhelmed by the large number of DSP products now on the market.
One leading retailer said, “DSP, we’re trying to get there. …We’re trying to educate ourselves better. It’s a little bit confusing. All of a sudden, we’re getting bombarded with a lot of product and what’s the difference between them…when do I use a JL when do I use a Rockford, when do I use an Audison? We all have to work on our selection of products.”
Then there’s tuning. Some dealers experimented with DSP and found it required more time tuning than anticipated, which caused them to lose money on the job. So they tossed the category aside.
Finally, to sell DSP salesmen have to be onboard. “We’re trying to shift from only training technicians to training sales people…DSP can raise ticket prices because when you sell DSP, your going to sell higher priced speakers and higher priced amplifiers,” said VP of Elettromedia USA Rob Wempe.
“Guys should be using DSP because now there’s a means to make even less expensive speakers sound better than more expensive speakers that aren’t using DSP,” said AudioControl’s Chris Bennett.
We’ll offer some tips to retailers for entering and prospering in the DSP market in a separate story to come.
Photo: Ken Ward teaching Educar training class.