Wireless systems and upgrades driving microphone market growth for broadcast and other segments
By: David Davies
Tuesday, December 5, 2017 - 4:14 pm

Futuresource Consulting Associate Director Chris McIntyre-Brown

Microphone replacements and upgrades are powering sales across broadcast and other key product segments within an overall context of continuing growth worldwide. The new report from Futuresource Consulting also reveals that pro microphone sales are likely to surpass 7 million units by 2021 – up from 4.6 million in 2016.

The pattern of replacement and upgrade is present across broadcast, live, install and consumer segments, with the trend especially noticeable in North America, Western Europe and parts of the Asia-Pacific region.

Explaining the backdrop to these developments, Futuresource Consulting Associate Director Chris McIntyre-Brown highlights “solid growth coming from the use of microphones in network environments. This is one of the most important trends in today’s microphone market, and one worthy of exploration. With the worlds of AV and IT converging, microphones are connected to networks in a way similar to computers, allowing them to operate over longer distances.

“Digital wireless technologies are also doing their bit to drive market growth, with a range of benefits that include low noise, low distortion, the opportunity for encryption, and enhanced transmission reliability. The market is moving rapidly to the point where microphone buyers can enjoy the convenience of wireless technology without noise or distortion, and at an affordable price.”

Brand performance

In terms of individual brands, Futuresource reports that Shure continues to dominate the microphone market, with a substantial lead over Sennheiser and Audio-Technica, who continue to battle it out for second position. Other notable brands include Sony, beyerdynamic, Bosch, AKG and Audix.

Providing additional insight on the professional broadcast segment, McIntyre-Brown tells SVG Europe that in this area of the market “reliabiliy is the key concern of buyers. Failure of a product can have serious consequences, so buyers are looking for microphones with a proven reliability and quality. Many of the boutique broadcast microphone firms highlight the quality and reliability of their products, stressing points like rigid testing and handcrafted workmanship.”

Of the four microphone product segments, broadcast is expected to be the slowest growing, with a projected CAGR of 2.7% for vendor revenues and 4.5% for unit sales for the period 2017 to 2021. In no small part this is attributable to the fact that broadcast is “a mature market with a customer set – studios and broadcasters – that is seeking limited expansion. It is primarily a replacement and upgrade market.”

As a consequence an increasing number of manufacturers are placing more emphasis on “the high-end of the live market as potential customers”.

Trouble ahead?

But although the overall prognosis for microphone manufacturing is positive, the report also evinces some causes for concern. Falling prices are shown to be impacting on margins, with the result that vendors must focus ever more keenly on key sectors, technologies and geographies to ensure profits remain robust.

“It’s clear from our research that microphone unit sales and revenues will continue to grow out to 2021 and beyond, but the rates of growth are declining,” says McIntyre-Brown. “We’re starting to see signs of market maturation and saturation, particularly within live and broadcast markets, with key areas of the install market following close behind.”