The good news for integrators is that multiroom audio continues to be popular among clients, with half of all installations performed over the past 12 months including some aspect of multizone music.
The bad news is that over the past two years, the average price point for a multiroom audio installation has fallen from $2,443 per zone to $1,675 per zone for equipment and labor. Moreover, the average system size fell from six zones to five.
One caveat is that the 2020 CE Pro Whole-House/Multiroom Audio Deep Dive Study was conducted during the heart of the coronavirus pandemic. That could have skewed some of the responses in several directions — either more negatively as many integrators face a slowdown in their business, or more positively as consumers were holed up in their homes and perhaps discovered their music system needed an upgrade.
But in general, whole-house audio installations are as popular as ever. Back in 2018, integrators reported that 50% of their projects included distributed audio, and that percentage has not changed in two years. In the 2020 survey, dealers reported 50.5% of the installations include multiroom audio. Dealers expect to experience a 6.5% increase in their multiroom audio business in 2020, despite all the economic unrest.
The typical custom integrator installed 25 new multiroom audio systems over the past 12 months.
As with most other aspects of their businesses, word-of-mouth referrals led the way as the primary source of audio leads. Interestingly, referral leads from manufacturers was at the bottom of the list in terms of helping feed business. It shows that despite some prominent brand names in this space, the manufacturers still have not perfected a way to feed customer leads to integrators, with only 4% of jobs coming from suppliers.
As noted, the average number of audio zones in an installation was five, with the typical installation taking about four hours per zone in terms of manhours. The average zone has two loudspeakers. Combining a subwoofer with multiroom audio is becoming a more common practice also.
With all the advances in wireless technology, hardwired installations are still the most preferred. Also, nearly half, 44%, of all multiroom audio projects include a theater component, whether that be a great room with a soundbar or a dedicated theater room from which the audio can be transmitted throughout the home.
There was a strong jump in the percentage of multiroom audio systems that have voice control. Back in 2018, only 12% of systems implemented voice control integration. In 2020, that number is nearly one in five (19%).