Are Surround Sound Receivers Obsolete?

Posted by Tom Hannaher , Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Recently an electronics retailer posted on Facebook, showing a photo of the back of a surround sound receiver.  They were obviously impressed by the sheer quantity of inputs and outputs the thing had (about 56 by my count).  That made me curious, so I downloaded the receiver’s manual.  It is 147 pages long!
So four questions come to mind.  1) How many people own 56 different gadgets that they will want to connect to their audio receiver?  2) How much would the connecting cables for those 56 gadgets cost?  3) How many people will ever read a 147 page manual for an audio component?  4) How long will this product category survive?
In 2003, when I started ZVOX, I was asking similar questions – and the receiver business has obviously survived for the past 10 years. But when I visit an electronics store, the aisles with receivers and 5.1 speaker systems are pretty much empty of people. The aisles for sound bars and stand-alone amplified music speakers are where the action is. 10 years ago, these product categories didn’t exist.
The world is tired of complexity. The world is tired of owner’s manuals the size of phone books. The world is tired of wires. (Nobody ever looked in back of their TV set and said “I don’t have enough wires back here.”) 
Receivers – and complex 5.1 surround sound systems – are not going to disappear. But they’re going to become almost invisible.


Anonymous said...

I think I counted 121-different types of connectors on that receiver's rear panel.

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