Skilled energy amplifiers – a booming market – rAVe [PUBS]
By James Kirby
The market for professional power amplifiers and professional audio in general is an area of long-term market growth. Despite the advent of powered speakers, the amplifier market has continued to see regular replacements and new opportunities in recent years, driven by innovation and demand at the macro level. However, at the beginning of 2020, the entire professional audio market was severely affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The market for professional amplifiers itself suffered significant losses with clear double-digit declines. Despite this decline, some key areas of positivity and stability remained during the crisis and a full market recovery to 2019 levels is expected in the coming years.
The Live & Touring sector was hardest hit during the crisis, with the majority of amplifier sales for this sector being “shut down” overnight. The enforcement of social distancing regulations and the cancellation of important events left rental providers with little need for new inventory. From the start of the crisis, the touring vertical was formulated as “the first to go and the last to come back,” and this would continue until 2021, with large gathering rules in place for many nations – and increasingly stringent became something.
In the last few months, with a build-up from the end of 2020, there has been an improvement in confidence across the touring market. This was mainly due to clear roadmaps and high vaccination rates in key countries, but strength was also noted in financial indicators and the continued recovery of installed live sound markets. While the tough times for touring manufacturers are far from over, government recovery funds and the gradual return of live events towards the end of 2021 are expected to result in a significant recovery in the live events sector. 2022 is projected to be a record year for live events, and while that demand will take some time to penetrate manufacturers, a rebound is expected within the five-year forecast period.
The live installed sound market was influenced by many of the same trends as touring during the crisis. Even so, the market showed impressive resilience in 2020. It continued to decline over the period, but it continued to generate confidence in the second half of the year as many venue owners push projects forward and continue to invest in audio equipment ready for the return of live events. Large projects in this category performed particularly well due to long-term investment plans and developments, while some smaller venues also saw positive results, particularly places of worship in the United States
Outside of live sound and touring, the amplifier market stabilized significantly in the past year. The Installed Commercial segment has been an area of growth and innovation for some time and shows the wide acceptance of Class D and audio network technologies. It also showed the greatest resilience for amplifiers throughout the pandemic, and some sub-vertical markets even saw growth. These growth areas included AV conferencing and higher education, both of which are being driven by remote engagement trends required by bans and social distancing. Universities started creating teaching content online overnight, and many decided to invest in both audio recording and public address systems ready for student return. This opened up a new opportunity for amplifiers, as hybrid learning installations caused a chain reaction of device upgrades. By now, many can identify with the challenges companies have faced over the past year as video conferencing has quickly become an important tool for working from home. Audio also benefited greatly from this trend, initially in the home sector for IT products, but later also driven by the return to physical offices. Many companies continue to employ home office and return-to-office strategies and the demand for professional audio equipment for AV conferencing is expected to increase later this year. A focus on quality and the use of AV conferencing and virtual events as a long-term strategy will be important to adding value to the amplifier market.
PA / VA, life safety, and background music were consistently strong areas in the commercial audio space, and through 2020 these segments also provided stability for the amplifier market. This was particularly the case at PA / VA and Life Safety, driven by major projects and sustained construction demand in the second half of the year. Although background music applications were among the hardest hit areas of commercial audio, they were still relatively powerful when compared to live sound. On average, compared to PA / VA, these applications are much more dependent on faster demand from small businesses, and therefore the segment was much more responsive to declining industry sales. Major uses include hospitality, restaurants, and retail, all of which have been badly affected by the virus. Despite sharp declines, a strong rebound is expected in these markets as the world’s economies begin to open fully.
Despite the tough times many amplifier manufacturers have faced over the past year, confidence has grown across all industries. The installation segments have added stability to the market while sub-verticals below average will quickly rebound. Although the touring and live sound segments have seen record declines, optimism is growing and a recovery will occur within the five-year forecast period. The market as a whole will face many challenges in the coming years, including the consequences of the AKM factory fire, other component shortages and poor sewer condition. However, these drawbacks are being overshadowed by the continued growth of the world’s vaccinated population, the reopening of the recreational economy, and the recovery in demand for critical applications that rely on professional audio.
Further information on the report can be found here.