COVID-19 and the impact on the audio industry

While we would wish it was true for the audio industry, the panic buying- at least in the Netherlands – has been limited to shelf life food and toilet paper. We have not been notified that there have been large-scale runs on audiophile network switches, streamers or floor standing loudspeakers. And that is a shame, taking into account that a 14-day quarantine at home becomes a lot more bearable with beautiful music around us. But seriously; we certainly expect the coronavirus pandemic to have consequences for the audio industry. We will discuss a number of expected developments with you.

The vulnerability of global freight transport has become painfully visible in recent weeks. Electronics mainly comes from China and other parts of Asia. Although companies had already ordered extra parts because of the Chinese New Year, so there was more stock. Now these stocks are starting to run out quickly. Producers will be wondering how they can reduce the vulnerability of intercontinental deliveries.

One example is to move production to locations that are closer. A brand like Isotek that makes electricity products, has had its production facility in Slovakia for years. CEO of Isotek, Keith Martin:

“In Slovakia there is a well-trained technical staff, which also has a high level of company loyalty. Wages may be higher than in Asia, but the factors I just mentioned also weigh heavily. And I can easily travel there. That promotes cohesion within Isotek.”

We read that a major online cable provider is also considering looking closer than China. Central and Eastern Europe are serious alternatives. Keep in mind that the number of brands that bring high end audio on the market is growing. The Polish Lampizator is an example. This brand has been active for years and has a worldwide fan base. In the field of headphones there are brands such as Meze (Romania) and RAAL Requisite from Serbia.

Less face-to-face contact

Several audio fairs will not take place this year. The High End in Munich is canceled, the CanJam (worldwide series of headphone shows) Singapore has moved to later this year. Depending on how long all this will take, the expectation is that online (because contactless) shopping will continue.

For the shops and brands in better quality audio, it will be a challenge to compete against shops and brands with large advertising budgets, a wide assortment and competitive prices. Here we see – as Alpha Audio – an important informative task to you as reader and audio-enthousiast.

Let It Go

The coronavirus puts us back in time for a while. Less travelling, less response to FOMO (fear of missing out) and participating in large group sessions. Being more at home, paying attention to the micro-world of family and neighbourhood (do they still have toilet paper?).

We realise that we have planned our time so immensly tight and full of fatal deadlines that a minimal shift in planning already leads to a domino effect of shifting appointments.

Let It Go! Let’s accept that there is a greater force that is gripping around us faster than we can control, despite the technical ingenuity we have acquired. And don’t panic too much.

Music can be comforting. Put on a nice record, or a CD or stream your favorite music during quarantine.

While typing this article, we played:

  • Luka – Suzanne Vega
  • Mozart Piano Sonatas, Mitsuko Uchida
  • They Can’t Take That Away From Me – Seal
  • Tadow – FKJ – Masego

What is your playlist in these weird times? And what are your thoughts on this?

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