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The Storm
Article by Steven R. Rochlin
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  Last month's editorial, titled The Calm Before The Storm, was very appropriate as The Storm has arrived! Since cyber-penning the article the office phone has been ringing with great news! Sales are greatly picking up throughout the industry here in the United States./ Meanwhile other markets throughout the world appear to be enjoying an upward trend in sales. On November 12th the Enjoy the Music.com Industry News page reported "According to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) manufacturer-to-dealer sales of separate audio components fared well during September. "Increased sales for the month helped to boost year-to-date totals for the entire audio product category, steadying the course for year-end totals to meet or exceed those of 2001... Sales of separate audio components (comprised of electronic components and speakers) grew by two percent over last year to $111.5 million. Similarly, year-to-date sales of separate audio components grew by nearly three percent to $987 million."

While the above figures are not entirely based on high-end audio sales, it does show consumer's desire for music reproduction via individual audio components. There are many companies now offer "home theater in a box" solutions where for a lowish cost you get a full-featured DVD/CD/cassette/receiver in one box and five upper-frequency loudspeakers plus a subwoofer. Usually these systems are under $1,000 and have the sound quality of, how shall i put this... well... they sound like five boom boxes for upper frequencies and a single-note thumper for the lower frequencies. Of course there is the rare home theater in a box whose sound reproduction is decent, yet none of the ones i have heard come even close to a more "proper" audio system.

It does not matter what any self-proclaimed audio guru or high-end reviewer says, music lovers vote with their dollars (or Yen, Pounds Sterling, Reals, Euro, Peso, Krone, Markka, Dirham, Shekel, Forint, etc). The three percent increase in sales may not seem like much, yet with audio separates facing a high quantity of competitors it only proves the overall strength within the separates industry. Various specialty audio stores have been enjoying the boost in sales. A company who operates better audio/video chain stores called Tweeter has been very busy buying up other chains such as Sound Advice. In fact as i type this there is a Tweeter advertisement on the radio. How appropriate! As Tweeter is a publicly traded company (NASDAQ symbol TWTR), it is easy to find out their financials. According to their news on November 26th:

Gross profit margins up 70 basis points for the quarter.
Operating income excluding the impairment charge up 8.5% for the year.

Earnings per share excluding the impairment charge and its related tax benefit were $0.02 for the quarter, and $0.69 for the year.


The above is just one of many examples that people are becoming better educated towards higher quality music reproduction and making their purchases accordingly. Still, we are not "out of the woods" folks. Everyone reading this is a representative of the high-end audio industry and hopefully shares their knowledge with others. This includes, but is not limited to, your relatives, friends, and neighbors. i was fortunate enough to have a father who enjoyed better music reproduction and when it was time to move into my own home, it also meant acquiring a stereo system that was along the lines of good ol' dad's. Not everyone is as fortunate though.

Odds are many of you are musicians or through some other circumstance discovered how great music can sound within your own home. Maybe it is time to throw a block party and invite all your neighbors to share in this hobby of ours? The upcoming holidays are a great excuse to have a party. News year's day perhaps? The joy is in the giving... Give others the opportunity to experience how wonderful life is when filled with musical bliss. Of course in the end what really matters is that you...


Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin













































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