With sales numbering in the tens of millions each year, portable speakers are one of the most important categories in consumer electronics. Nowadays, next to headphones, they are the most popular way to listen to music. Speaking to IFA International, Jamie Biesemans, manager of EISA’s HiFi Expert Group, identfied a number of key innovations on show at IFA 2017.
According to Biesemans, sound has to be seen: “Portable speakers are often used by groups of younger consumers to enjoy musical socially – or even to get a party going; a fact manufacturers have certainly not lost sight of. More and more speakers feature LED based lighting built-in, allowing for cool visual effects matching the music.”
He also says there is a trend towards “more is better. Many new portable speakers can be hooked up wirelessly to create a stereo combination. Some brands go even further by allowing the listener to create ad hoc sound systems consisting of many speakers, even up to 100 units. This ability encourages repeat sales but also plays into the social aspect of portable speakers.”
Sound quality is, of course, an important consideration, says Biesemans: “Virtually all portable speakers use Bluetooth to receive music wirelessly from smartphones and other devices. There are several high quality codecs getting more traction. AptX and LDAC offer close to CD quality, and are supported on more and more mobile devices”