Buyers’ Guide – Wireless Multiroom Systems

Market (GfK)

Multiroom systems generated revenues of €520m from January to June 2017, in Europe 10*, with a growth of 14% in value, compared to the first half of 2016. The majority of systems sold were home audio systems. There was also significant growth for components – for example soundbars/bases (y/y +35%) and receivers (y/y +67%). An new trend is the introduction of voice commands and recognition. Today an increasing number of devices that work on AI platforms are coming on to the market. These innovative developments will drive multiroom products in the second half of 2017 and most likely into 2018.

* Europe 10 = DE, ES, FR, GB, IT, NL, BE, AT, CH, SE

Martina Hürbinger Marketing Manager, Consumer Electronics GfK Retail & Technology martina.huerbinger@gfk.com


State of Play

Wireless multiroom systems continue to expand as an alternative to centralised, one-room music systems. These active integrated devices can individually stream music from multiple local or cloud sources in each room, or connect into stereo setups and arrays. Beside connectivity, this segment has seen big improvements in sound, quality and power.


Innovations To Look for at IFA

ROOM CORRECTION

Many of these devices can selfcalibrate the sound to better suit the space and own positioning. By using sophisticated built-in electronics and playing test signals to measure the response of the room, devices optimise their own frequency response. These measurements are done either by the devices themselves or with a mobile app via the phone microphone, and then stored in the device. Some devices also have pre-defined settings for different kinds of music and can simulate different spaces.

HI-RES PLAYBACK

With the advance in sound quality of devices and following user-demand, streaming services are increasingly offering high-resolution streaming, with Tidal, Qobuz and Dezeer currently in the lead. Manufacturers are responding to this trend by adopting new codecs, for example MQA.

DISAPPEARING DESIGN

Form doesn’t strictly follow function anymore. The design of wireless music devices does not reveal their purpose immdiately, but rather takes its own stance. Home-based and portable devices have monolithic shapes and often neutral colours with concealed light indicators and touch-sensitive controls, in order to fit any interior design. Advanced, miniaturised electronics and loudspeaker units allow outstanding sound clarity, loudness and dynamics from compact boxes.


Innovating @ IFA

IT LOOKS LIKE ROCK & ROLL

The Marshall Wireless Multi- Room Speaker System has three sizes of speaker in the iconic Marshall design. The Acton is designed to fit into tight spaces while giving a powerful sound; the Stanmore is designed for any size of room; and the Woburn Multi-Room, the largest speaker from Marshall, is most suitable for big spaces. The speakers connect wirelessly with Chromecast built-in, Spotify Connect or AirPlay, can hook up to a turntable via the RCA input, and connect to Bluetooth devices. »

HALL 1.2 / STAND 215

WIRELESS PLAYTIME

The Party Series, from Jlab Audio, wirelessly connects up to eight speakers across the home. The system does not require wi-fi or apps and to use the system, consumers simply connect from their device via Bluetooth up to 10 metres away, then link all the speakers from up to 33 metres away. »

HALL 11.1 / STAND 119

The Future

Wireless multiroom systems will offer even broader choices to customers, ranging from portable devices to high-end audio systems. The keyword in this segment is integration: these devices will come ready for various streaming services, will seamlessly integrate with cloud-based services, and will be controlled by apps and voicerecognition.