Despite a wider category slowdown in Bluetooth speakers, party speakers posted significant double digit percentage point growth by the close of 2022. Growth rapidly accelerated towards the second half of the year, particularly due to a push from JBL of its best performing models, the PartyBox 310, 110 and the new PartyBox Encore, which launched in Q3 2022.
Party speakers are capitalising on demand for high powered audio in outdoor/large capacity social events, while avoiding the comparatively higher costs of a multi speaker PA system. The portability, connectivity and easy to operate functionality all mean that party speakers offer a way for consumers to put on audio without in depth technical knowledge of audio setups and interfaces.
Despite explosive growth from JBL, present growth forecasts are not expected to be as significant as they were in 2022. This is because of the multiple requisite factors for developing and marketing a quality and cost competitive party speaker, which has historically held the category back. JBL, for instance, benefits from the expertise in lighting offered by its parent company, Harmon Kardon, while also enjoying the pro audio know-how from its own business.
Very few companies would be able to deploy resources simultaneously and with enough quality to compete with JBL’s current party speaker offering. Consequently, party speakers are forecast to grow, albeit at a more steady and stable pace as brands gradually, rather than immediately, approach this product category.
Soundbars are also seeing a significant upgrade in terms of feature innovation, particularly through emphasis on 3D audio technology. Several new products in the soundbar space are embracing detachable separates that come built into the device, placing a clear challenge to conventional, multi speaker home theatre packages.
Products, such as the new JBL Bar 1300, featuring real surround sound with detachable speakers, as well as support from True Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and MultiBeam technology, present an all in one device audio solutions for consumers’ home audio setup. Moving up the price brackets, we can see the high end of soundbars increasing the challenge to conventional loudspeakers. For example, the Nakamichi Dragon soundbar, scheduled to launch in Q2 2023, which features an impressive 11.4.6 channel sound system at an expected $3,499.
Other, more unconventional form factors, are also seeing some experimentation within the home theatre space, such as the Sony HT-A9 system, which launched in 2022. This product consists entirely of separates and places emphasis on 360 spatial sound mapping, through the use of calibration software inside the device. Then, moving down the price brackets, we can see cheaper models starting to explore the possibilities of 3D audio integration via virtualisation, wherein a single soundbar device would simulate a 3D audio experience via directional firing speakers.
While the home audio market is seeing some slowdown in volume terms, audio brands are adapting and turning focus towards higher price brackets, feature innovation and appealing to new demographics. Younger consumers are gradually becoming more interested in their audio solutions beyond on-the-go headphones, and are looking at products that best present their music collections – whether indoors or outside, as with party speakers. These trends will see market volumes remain stable or in marginal decline as consumes forgo off-the-cuff purchases of cheap Bluetooth speakers. Instead, there will be a greater emphasis on deliberate, planned and higher quality products.
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