4 Consumer Audio Trends That Have Defined 2018

Whether people are listening to music, podcasts or talk radio, they want the highest quality sound for their money. Convenience, the evolution of technology, and a number of other factors are altering how that audio content is delivered. Here are 4 consumer audio trends that have defined 2018. We’ll discuss what is driving these trends and their impact.

How Music Is Delivered

According to a 2016 report, more than four fifths of consumers use their smartphones to store and stream music. A growing share of the public uses streaming services to get the music and other audio content they want in addition to radios, CD players and other media. And they want that content streamed to sound bars and wireless headsets in addition to conventional speakers. Check out the reviews from the folks at Speaker Xpert if you want to find the best hardware for your application.

The Embrace of Wireless

Wireless technology has certainly impacted how people listen to audio. Consumers want quality audio content of their choice no matter where they are. And they want devices they can take anywhere. This means they choose truly wireless earbuds over wired earbuds connected to a smart phone or radio. It is reflected in the adoption of truly portable speakers that receive signals and stream media to broadcast to the public.
The desire to abandon wired connections is forcing companies to create low power devices that don’t have to be charged as often and can be taken anywhere. It is also leading to smaller, lighter form factors. And it is seen in the rise of multi-room streaming audio capability, where multiple speakers are able to stream the same content from a single source.

High Resolution Audio

People are refusing to choose between high quality sound and convenience. They demand high quality audio from their streaming audio. For example, 24-bit music quality is commonly expected even from Bluetooth connections. Digital direct amplifiers are delivering top notch sound. Even multi-function “hearable” devices are expected to provide high quality sound.

For example, wearable devices that track one’s biometrics and accept voice commands are still expected to generate high quality sound. Conversely, we’re seeing wireless earbuds that can receive voice commands while delivering perfect sound. At the same time, all of this is being delivered over wireless networks without consuming all the bandwidth.

Smart Speakers and Information Appliances

Smart assistants are spreading to new devices like headsets, earbuds, sound bars and networked speakers, all connected to the cloud and AI. Or you can speak to any speaker in the room, and it can relay the command to the smart assistant, whether you’re giving commands to your smart home or asking to switch to another playlist. AV systems are blurring the distinction between sound system, home automation, and AI.
The same advanced intelligence is leading to devices that are smarter sound processing, such as a smart device able to understand a command despite interfering background noise. Smarter microphones are able to capture the same quality of sound regardless of where the user is located. In this scenario, consumers can stand at an angle or with their back to the mic and still be heard. And in every case, smart devices are expected to be easy for the end user to use.

Technology is evolving to allow us to hear everything and be heard no matter where we are or what we’re doing. The distinction between speaker, microphone, smart appliance, and sound system is blurring as we talk to devices in our home and expect an answer.

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