Audio Outlook

Unless the Mayans have their way, a year from now we’ll be looking back on the year that was 2012, reflecting on the many trends, developments, breakthroughs, and surprises that occurred in the ever-evolving world of pro and commercial audio. And what might we be reflecting upon?

“By next year, we’ll see the rise of smart wireless audio equipment,” predicted Al Hershner, vice president of the Americas and Asia/Pacific business units at Shure. “Wireless microphones, monitors, and intercoms are becoming more intelligent, more controllable, and in some cases capable of managing themselves. This will relieve the audio engineer of the burden of dealing with spectrum whose condition changes from moment to moment.”

Continuing with this line of thinking, David Wiener, CEO and chairman of Aphex, sees an even greater shift towards digital and mobility. “As venues host multiple and different types of functions and events, and as more and more AV information is driven to people in large interactive venues (airports, retail stores, etc.), more advanced and dynamically adapting technologies will allow shoppers, diners, concert-goers, worshippers, and sports fans to enjoy better and more effective AV content and entertainment.” Wiener also expects more buzz about mobile app software that enhances music, voice, and AV content.

So which emerging trends have these two insiders most excited for the coming year? “I am excited to see the world waking up to the idea that they want better sound in this era of compressed and streamed audio,” Wiener said. “Aside from the commercial opportunities, I just love to see that people are taking back the music and want a better experience. As this relates to products and technology, I’m excited to see more advanced software and hardware targeting engineers and end-users that makes it easier to achieve better sound and communication.”

Hershner’s excitement stemmed from a content creation and customer engagement standpoint. “Activities such as performance, recording, and video production—increasingly prevalent in installations—are blending together,” he explained, “and many customers engage in all of these activities in a typical week. This is an opportunity for us to enhance the utility of our current products by incorporating new technologies, some of which we’ll migrate into installed audio from other market segments or industries.”