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Hi-Fi Plus Magazine --  Hi-Fi+

September 2023


Welcoming Both New And Longstanding Audio Companies
Our favourite brands to release the new products.
Editorial By Alan Sircom


Hi-Fi+ September 2023


  Are there too many companies in audio? We are approaching Audio Show season for the end of 2023, and at each event there are seemingly dozens of new brands offering products, but a finite number of buyers, many of whom buy from the same companies they always bought from. Is that sustainable?

This year is going to be especially interesting. Those long product development cycles used by bigger brands stalled during the pandemic lockdowns, and in more than a few cases, the products those designers weren't developing in 2020 and 2021 are the ones that aren't arriving in the stores this season. Meanwhile, the keen enthusiast with an idea and a passion had months to themselves to perfect their new product.

2023 is the end of the COVID-19 long tail in product design. On the one hand, some of those more ambitious projects have been pushed back yet further, but the newcomer brands are likely going to proliferate over the next year or two.

I'd like to hope this is a golden ticket for new brands to lay down new markets and gain interest, but it doesn't work that way. Audio buyers are a conservative lot. Faced with no new products from their pet established brand and exciting new rivals from lesser known brands, audio buyers have a tendency to 'wait'.


Hi-Fi+ September 2023


We will wait for our favourite brand to release the new products, either hanging on to the older model or even just doing without audio for a few months. This would seem crazy to people in other consumer electronics categories but is the surprisingly commonplace in audio. While that loyalty is astonishing, it can create stagnation. At the very least, we need to be open to the idea that new brands might form a part of your audio system.

New companies are welcomed into the fold, but it's hard to tell today who is a 'stayer.' That new loudspeaker company could still be around 50 years from now, or it could be history before the end of next year. We cannot and must not refuse products exposure just because they are newcomers.

However, the big issue remains 'too many brands chasing too few customers'. That holds regardless of the buying trends of those customers. In fact, it's likely the sheer profusion of new brands is making those long-standing audio buyers make more conservative choices in their purchases. It's called 'analysis paralysis'; if you are faced with maybe one or two choices, you are more likely to make a decision than if you are faced with hundreds of choices. The tendency then is to make no choice and just go with what you know so well.

This is perhaps why the same few brands keep selling year in, year out. While the newest kids on the block struggle to get anyone to take on their gear.



Alan Sircom, Editor hi-fi+




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