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An audio to take everywhere

More and more portable audio is becoming the best sound option for various companies and institutions. In the following text the characteristics of these equipment will be known and a look at this market in the region will be given.

by Héctor Gómez Pérez

It is not strange that a portable audio system, in the case of a hotel for example, one day is amplifying an event in the vicinity of the pool, the next it is used in an auditorium for sound at a meeting of corporate travelers, and two weeks later it is in one of the restaurants offering a pleasant ambient sound while diners enjoy their dishes.

That is the main characteristic of this type of equipment: its mobility. All this because they are generally lightweight, have all their components integrated, which clearly facilitates the installation process, and also offer a very good sound quality. AVI LATINOAMÉRICA consulted a group of experts in the field to know the secrets of this type of audio and in passing to make an analysis of the current market in the region. The group of guests was composed of Don Roth, CEO of AmpliVox Sound Systems; José Hernández, anchor audio's international sales officer; Juan F. Montoya, sales manager for Central and South America at Bosch Communications Systems, and Simon Jones, marketing director of portable audio products at JBL Professional.

Ease of operation, that's the premise

The first thing to keep in mind is that there are situations in which it is necessary to use a portable audio system, for example, in those in which the speed of assembly is a determining factor; in which there is no technical staff for it or in which the space to transport the equipment is very limited. To that extent these systems are very desired by those people who become the same operators of their equipment, such as musicians, lecturers or disc jockeys; these characteristics make them more economical systems than professional audios in which highly qualified personnel are required for their installation and subsequent commissioning.

- Publicidad -

When talking to the guests about the advantages and disadvantages of these systems compared to professionals, many aspects stood out. For example, Juan Montoya, said that "normally in a portable audio system a little quality and dynamic range is sacrificed in order to achieve greater portability and ease of assembly. Basically the portable system includes a package of several integrated elements, while in a professional system many of its elements such as wiring and connections are physically separated." For his part, Simon Jones, said that "professional audio systems require knowing more about installation, but once installed by a professional they are more likely to deliver better levels of performance", although he definitely stressed that the mobility and ease of installation of portable equipment are factors that play in their favor.

What is the Latino market looking for?

The question for José Hernández is summarized in "good sound, a well-known brand with support, and most importantly, an easy to operate system." For his part, the JBL expert believes that performance plays an important role when choosing a product of these characteristics: "the Latino consumer is looking for a product that delivers the perfect balance between performance and sound quality for a long time; a clear definition between price/performance is important there." Very much in line with Jones' opinion was that of Juan F. Montoya when he considered that what the region demands are "compact high-performance systems with a fair price based on their quality. I believe that a portable audio system should include in its integrated package the least number of individual parts and the least amount of interconnections required between them to be able to put a system to work."

It should be noted that this type of equipment, as explained by Don Roth, is suitable for outdoor events, which in fact he considers to be very important for the Latino user, as well as for interiors. The biggest consumers of these audio systems are hotels, educational institutions, churches, musicians, recreational parks, and government entities.

Simon Jones mentioned that "people's demands for better audio quality and intelligibility are growing, all because people are surrounded daily by great sound quality, from audio systems in vehicles and homes, to the surround theater system, cinema systems and even background music in retail environments." That is why it is unacceptable for him that a sound system, regardless of whether it is portable or professional, does not offer adequate quality.

Difficulties in Latin America

Undoubtedly, technologies must face different pitfalls depending on the market in which they are marketed. In the case of portable audio systems in Latin America, these difficulties are summarized in: imports from the gray market (counterfeit products made in Asia), price and knowledge, from the perspective of Simon Jones, from JBL; the confusion between a portable audio system with professional performance and functions and home audio systems that are sometimes used as portable systems with which the quality is greatly degraded, since these systems are forced to levels for which they were not designed, as expressed by Juan F. Montoya; for José Hernández a difficulty is that they are systems that are not operated with direct current, although he was clear in pointing out that 90% of Anchor Audio equipment works with battery, and finally for Don Roth the main difficulty is to be able to disseminate in the Latin market the availability of portable systems which have an outstanding sound and clarity that can meet the needs of the market.

- Publicidad -

Product developments

What have been the main advances of these four companies in terms of portable audio? In the case of AmpliVox, they are determined by the use of wireless microphones, as well as multimedia systems that allow a speaker to speak and have background music at the same time; in the case of Anchor Audio, the CD, ducking or voice over music players, the 110 to 240 volt system and the neodymium horn stand out; as far as Bosch is concerned, ergonomic compact packages can be found where performance has been maximized, thanks to more efficient and lighter weight amplifiers, lighter materials, but resistant in the external construction of the speakers and electrical equipment, as well as in the motors of the transducers. Finally, Simon Jones believes that for JBL the developments are based on the integration of power amplification, which means easy installation, optimized system performance and better portability.

Being equipment that needs to be taken from one place to another, portable audio systems are especially resistant to shocks and constant transport, even inclement weather. Those of JBL, are products that must have 100 hours of testing, subjected to falls and vibration. "Normally the weather is not a primary factor since many of these systems will not be exposed to it permanently, but we have models with special designs which withstand even the most extreme weather conditions," Montoya said of the Bosch equipment. For his part, José Hernández highlighted within the Anchor Audio line, the Liberty model that can be used in places as diverse as party halls, auditoriums, educational halls, cruise ships, public events and stadiums. Don Roth explained that AmpliVox equipment is weatherproof and withstands rain, adding that "our systems are resilient, durable and virtually indestructible."

Growth and challenges

2008 closes with a growing economic crisis and the instability of the markets. The question that remained in the air was intended to investigate the way companies end the year and the projections towards the future. The guests referred to the following:

What are the growth projections for your company's portable audio products at the end of 2008?

- Publicidad -

"The growth projection is blank, we are constantly looking at new market segments and supplying the most useful products to existing markets, as such our market share has been increasing."
-Simon Jones, Marketing Director, JBL Professional Portable Audio Products-.

"We believe that we will have a slighter growth than in previous years but constant and sustained. Our company is in a favorable and economically very healthy position, which allows us to constantly research and develop new technologies that we always apply to our products." -Juan Montoya, sales manager for Central and South America of Bosch Communications Systems-. Anchor Audio's projections for 2009 are aimed at launching 3 to 5 products with the best technology. For example: USB, memory card, ipod ducking system, adjustable speed CD player, new high-power circuits and Neodymium horn system".-José Hernández, international sales of Anchor Audio-.

"Our growth has been consistent in double digits."
-Don Roth, CEO AmpliVox-.

Richard Santa, RAVT
Author: Richard Santa, RAVT
Periodista de la Universidad de Antioquia (2010), con experiencia en temas sobre tecnología y economía. Editor de las revistas TVyVideo+Radio y AVI Latinoamérica. Coordinador académico de TecnoTelevisión&Radio.

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