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what trends for the global audio market in 2022?

  • Amilcar Chicago
  • Audio

A few days ago, the consulting firm Futuresource sent us its report on 2022 trends in the audio field. The latter inspired us to draw some guidelines on industry, product and market trends. Among them, we observe in particular the democratization of Hi-Res audio, the improvement of the sound quality of online conferences or the development of immersive on-board audio.

Hi-Res audio increasingly accessible

Almost overnight, Amazon and Apple extended their offer to access so-called “Hi-Res” music for relatively affordable prices (see ON-mag articles here and there). The two titans of tech therefore join platforms such as Qobuz or Tidal in this respect, which nevertheless stand out as being pioneers in terms of Hi-Res music on the Internet and as having a curation as well as a more refined catalog. Let’s not think that all online music will go to Hi-Res in 2022; let’s keep a cool head because behind the announcement effects, the term “Hi-Res” remains vague or even overused and access to said music is within certain limits.

Most of the industry agrees that Hi-Res music is better sampled and higher resolution than 24-bit/92kHz, the standard CD-burning quality for the music industry. But keep in mind that the majority of consumer devices, wired or wireless, do not support such Hi-Res quality.


Examples include computers without an external DAC, devices running iOS, the AirPlay protocol or many true wireless headphones that do not have Bluetooth 5.3 and/or the LC3plus codec. Nevertheless, on the side of high-end brands, some have already taken the plunge by supporting the LC3plus codec like Bang & Olufsen (see the ON-mag article).

Finally, the majority of songs available on major platforms other than specialized services like Qobuz or Tidal are not in Hi-Res. Hi-Res music will therefore certainly gain momentum with the general public in 2022 and electronics brands will accordingly offer hardware or software updates to follow this movement.


Immersive sound and spatialization

With the pandemic, audio and video content is consumed in greater quantities at home, instead of going to the theatre, cinema or concert. As a result, the place of immersive audio in the characteristics of Hifi and video products has been increased. We feel it in the announcements of mid-range devices like the Amazon Echo Studio, certain in-ear headphones or gaming headsets. But the trend is also felt on some ultra-high-end products, like Maunakea, which simply consists of installing a foldable movie theater in one’s living room (see the ON-mag article). If the pandemic and restrictions continue, this trend of immersive audio at home could therefore increase in 2022.


The improved spatialization of sound reproduction is also felt in the world of online conferences. Virtual meetings require for the moment to communicate differently, because they do not guarantee an intelligible result when two people interrupt each other or speak simultaneously, for example. Situations that are all the more frequent when online conversations concern distance learning courses with young people or children. Improvements in this direction are announced at Microsoft Teams while Facebook announced the beta version of its virtual meeting room application Horizon Workrooms.

Car audio: towards the spatialization of sound

On-board audio is undergoing developments that will set the trend for 2022, especially on high-end cars. The car audio industry knows almost to the nearest centimeter where the ears of the listeners are located and can thus place the loudspeakers optimally in the cabin. OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers, better known by their English acronym OEM) in the automotive industry will start supplying major brands with spatialized in-car audio in 2022. Spatialization of in-car sound is not only of interest to musical aesthetics, but also for safety, by bringing blind spot or unfastened seat belt alerts from where attention is required.


In terms of on-board audio, the luxury electric car Lucid Air acts as a figurehead since when it is put on the market, it should be equipped with a Dolby Atmos Hifi system and 21 speakers. All controlled from an on-board computer compatible with Alexa. To compete on the internal combustion engine side, Mercedes will launch the 2022 models of the large S-Class sedan later this year, equipped with the MBUX voice-activated graphic interface (see the ON-mag article). These cars will use no less than 31 onboard speakers, including six rear-placed surround transducers to create an immersive effect. Thanks to their silent motor, electric vehicles will nevertheless keep a head start in terms of on-board audio, encouraging the automotive sector to pay more attention to acoustics in terms of music, safety and even control. voice to the on-board computer or the sound quality of the conversation between the passengers.

All of these trends are to be considered with caution, given the unpredictable nature of the pandemic and its impact on industries, in particular the supply of electronic components.

Other articles that may interest you on ON-mag and the rest of the web

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