The professional microphone market is expected to surpass 7 million units by 2021, up from 4.6 million in 2016, according to a comprehensive new report from Futuresource Consulting.
However, falling prices are impacting on margins, and vendors must focus on key sectors, technologies and geographies to ensure profits remain healthy, the report found.
"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," said Chris McIntyre-Brown, associate director at Futuresource Consulting. "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."
The report found that microphone replacements and upgrades are driving sales across all four product segments (consumer, install, live and broadcast), though technological innovation is creating additional sales opportunities within consumer and install sectors. This is particularly the case in North America, Western Europe and parts of the Asia-Pacific region.
"Watch out for solid growth coming from the use of microphones in network environments," added McIntyre-Brown. "This is one of the most important trends in today's microphone market, and one worthy of exploration. 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."
In 2016, just over half of vendor revenues came from wireless microphones, and Futuresource forecasts this rising to almost two-thirds by 2021.
Omnichannel retail, social media and online visibility are all stamping their mark on the microphone segment"
According to the report, the USA is driving the most value for microphone vendors, closely followed by the Asia Pacific region. Europe is just behind the two leaders and is experiencing downward pressure from slow economic growth, although Western Europe accounts for the majority share of the European market and, alongside the USA, continues to drive global microphone market trends. Combined, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa contribute around 10% to global value.
In the report, Futuresource references some of the biggest names in audio including Shure, Sennheiser, Audio Technica, Sony, Beyerdynamic, AKG and more.
"Brands with global microphone revenues less than $35 million accounted for almost half of the market in 2016, while Chinese manufacturers are also a significant competitive force,” explained McIntyre-Brown. “They own the low-end of the market, they make it easier for new competitors to enter and they are expanding their presence. More significantly, these rumblings in the basement could lead to upheavals for manufacturers operating within the mid-tier."
He concluded: ”Omnichannel retail, social media and online visibility are all stamping their mark on the microphone segment. In a crowded marketplace, brands need to harness these tools to ensure their long-term success is locked down."