Home audio components are ready to be connected

Home audio gear has embraced the connected home in a big way to tap into such new music sources as PCs, MP3 players, cellular smartphones, tablets, USB drives and Internet radio.
Home audio components, HTiBs and tabletop speaker systems that stream music from the Internet and from networked PCs have gone mainstream. Technologies such as Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA), certified networking and Apple’s AirPlay let consumers push music wirelessly from smartphones and tablets over a home’s Wi-Fi network to A/V receivers (AVRs) and amplified tabletop speakers. A growing selection of Bluetooth- enabled tabletop speakers, sound bars, and A/V receivers also stream music wirelessly from cellphones and tablets.

Sales statistics underscore the trends. Among component A/V receivers, for example, 45 percent of units sold to retailers will feature an Ethernet port in 2012, usually to connect to a home network to stream music from a networked PC and the Internet, Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) forecasts show. And 16 percent of home radios shipped by suppliers will feature Internet radio in 2012.

Audio networking also takes another form in the home: docking of portable devices such as smartphones and tablets to A/V receivers, HTiBs, tabletop speakers, and tabletop radios and music systems. In 2012, CEA forecast that 84 percent of all AVRs sold at the factory level will dock with and control MP3 players, mainly Apple’s iPod or iPhone. Among HTiBs with DVD and Blu-ray, the percentage will hit 83 percent.