June Housing Starts are Up Again, Is it Time for the ‘R’ Word Yet?

The Commerce Department released today new housing starts data for the month of June, and we may be close to using that long sought after “R” word – Recovery. Largely positive  – housing starts overall for June reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 760,000 units or 6.9% over May’s revised rate of 711,000 units. Still, the picture for single-family starts – an economic driver for our industry – while still positive, is a little more moderate.

Can housing now be a bright spot in an otherwise cooling economy? Continue reading

Eli Harary, Ex-D&M, Launches AudioXperts

Photo of Eli Harary

Well-known industry personality Eli Harary, formerly with D&M’s Boston Acoustics division (which he left in June 2011), announced today that he is forming a new company called AudioXperts. AudioXperts will offer a “collection of unique designer/consumer-friendly high performance audio solutions.” Harary, the new company’s President, has assembled a team of…presumably…audio experts, to assist him in this endeavor.

Joining Harary at AudioXperts…

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High-End Electronics Retail Innovator Mike Kay Dies

UPDATED 7/17/12: New family wishes (see below)

Lyric Hi Fi & Video LogoYou can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been – and, to this day, our industry stands on the shoulders of giants such as Avery Fisher, Saul Marantz, and Sidney Harman. But even these industry greats couldn’t do it alone. If it weren’t for their retail partners…pioneers in their own right…no one would have purchased their marvelous inventions. And that’s why our roster of most prominent industry heroes must include people like Michael Kakadelis…better known as Mike Kay…owner of Manhattan’s Lyric Hi Fi & Video, who passed away last Saturday. Continue reading

Rotel Launches the Ultimate Insider’s Guide to High Performance Home Theater

Photo of Rotel Website Promo of BookRotel announced today that is has published an all-new edition of its popular home theater bible, now called Rotel’s Ultimate Insider’s Guide to High Performance Home Theater. This new guide is written by Len Schneider, CEO of TechniCom Corporation and a fairly well-known technical writer in the industry. Continue reading

If You Want Real Unity – You’ve Got to Get Engage[d]

Photo of Unity Home Theater GirlOne of the more interesting stops we made during our rounds at last month’s 2012 CEA Line Show was to see a new company with a brand new product not yet on the market…but coming soon. That company, Engage Audio Design, has announced and shown a simplified total home theater package called Unity Home Theater. If the actual shipping product adheres closely to the prototype shown at the show – they just may have a real winner on their hands!

What’s so great about Unity? You’ve got to read on…

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Continuing to Ramp-Up, 3vNet Announces Its Pick for Director of U.S. Sales

Photo of Matt Curtin, Director of U.S. Sales, 3vNet

Matt Curtin
Director of U.S. Sales, 3vNet

New industry player, 3vNet – formerly known as Colorado vNet – announced today that it has selected a Director of Sales. According to the company, Matt Curtin is the company’s new Director of U.S. Sales, effective immediately, and will take over directing the sales activities of the company’s independent sales representatives. Continue reading

CEA Line Show Next Gen TV Panel Talks Tech, Specialty Retail, and Apple iTV

Photo Showing Next Gen TV Panel from 2012 CEA Line ShowAt last month’s 2012 CEA Line Show in New York City, tucked amongst the many manufacturer’s press conferences was a variety of panels discussing what the CEA purported to be today’s top issues. One such panel, the Next Gen TV panel, talked about…as you might imagine…emerging TV technologies like OLED, 4K resolution, and Internet-enabled TVs. Many in our business would suggest that this is old news. But things got more interesting when the panel strayed from technology topics and veered into a variety of industry issues, such as TV makers technology roll-out strategies, the politics of 4K, and Apple entering the TV business. Continue reading

SpeakerCraft Crafts a New Kind of Speaker

SpeakerCraft Protege LogoAt the CEA Line Show last month, we saw a whole spectrum of exhibitors, including: 1) Unknown brands vying to get the attention of the tech press; 2) Well-known brands showing products again that have already been announced and shown; 3) And then there were a couple of surprises – well-known companies showing entirely new products or product categories. SpeakerCraft, a well-known predominantly custom integration supplier, surprised us with a new product in a new category for them…they call it Protegé.

Call it Protegé…but don’t call it a soundbar… Continue reading

Is Pioneer Another Name for Innovator?

Pioneer is Embracing the Smartphone LifestyleYears ago, the step-up component audio world was dominated by the big three: Yamaha, Onkyo, and Denon. Having joined Onkyo in 1985, I got to participate in what some people called the “meat of the market.” These brands hit the optimal “sweet spot” of volume and profitability and literally could be the difference between life-and-death for dealers.

And we knew it. Those were heady times, and often we let our egos run wild – turning our noses up at mass market brands such as Sony, Kenwood, and Pioneer. Well, I’m older and wiser now – the big three aren’t what they used to be – and I recognize smart and savvy moves when I see them…and Pioneer is impressing me. Continue reading

Latest CEA Industry Data Shows Shocking Struggles, Are We Headed for a ‘Meltdown’?

CEA Line Show LogoOne of the benefits of attending the 2012 CEA Line Show in NYC is that the sponsoring trade group (Consumer Electronics Association) brings their resident economist who provides the latest market research data of where the industry is now…and where he thinks it will be at the end of the year after the holiday selling season. He’s not always right…but he is always interesting. And this year, as always, there was a mixture of good news and mostly bad news.

See the latest CEA data – much of it surprising. Do you agree with their areas of opportunity?… Continue reading