With podcasting, live streaming, and at-home work solutions more popular than ever, it’s been a fantastic few years for prosumer audio sales. The term applies to anyone who both produces and consumes – or is a professional and a consumer, depending on who you ask. Either way, their need for reliable, slightly elevated gear to take their content to the next level is proving highly profitable for certain companies.
Certain trends in the field have already come and gone, such as kickass proxy in the file-sharing space, but right now we’re looking into the crystal ball and predicting a few trends that will define 2022.
Spatial or 3D audio has firmly found its footing in the video game industry, with Sony and Microsoft’s next-gen consoles both natively supporting the feature. However, people across the world are finding ways to apply this technology that are as innovative as the the Presonus Revelator io44 to the end user in exciting ways. And fittingly, these days every popular DAW comes with multiple tools to allow for creations using 3D audio.
The Sennheiser-owned dearVR MIX plugin is one of many new pieces of software that apply spatial audio to simulate real-world mixing environments such as various studio setups, the club, or a car while working with headphones. Essentially, it’ll turn your HD300s into an all-in-one referencing tool, and plugins like this also remove the need to physically move yourself to change your mixing reference – a boon for anybody working from a minimal home setup.
Yamaha’s Active Field Control is another product that allows you to map the use of multiple speakers in various acoustic spaces, which has a broad use in outdoor installations but also small-scale exhibitions and experiential activations.
On the consumer side of prosumer, expect more and more brands to begin packaging their headphones with a free copy of Dolby Atmos.
Right now, starter packs are so hot you’ll need a couple of fire safe doors to protect you from the heat.
Audio-Technica have been offering an affordable Creator Pack for a while now, inclusive of ATH-M20X headphones, a AT2020USB+ cardioid condenser microphone, and a boom arm. It’s been hugely successful, and it’s simple enough to see why: this is a laser-focused deal aimed directly at the booming podcast and home creation market.
And of course, many other companies have now followed suit, including but not limited to Zoom, RØDE, Roland, and Behringer.
What we expect to see in 2022 is more and more audio manufacturers jumping on the trends, following the undeniable popularity these kits have amongst the prosumer market. More brands that are classically considered hi-fi or audiophile options wouldn’t be too surprising either – how great would a Sennheiser starter pack be, for instance?
TikTok has caused a seismic shift in the world of content creation, skewing it ever further into a mobile-first industry. Finally, the amount of users creating for mobile is lining up to the amount of users consuming on mobile.
To capitalise on the market, more and more mobile-friendly gear is being created, forgoing the need for hundreds of adaptors and plugging straight into AUX, USB-C, or iPhone ports (or working wirelessly). Roland’s AeroCaster is one perfect example of this, an A/V switcher that’s built to work with multiple wireless devices and can stream over a cellular or Wi-Fi network. Even sweeter, everything is run in tandem with an an easy-to-use app.
Roland, a company many would still associate with their iconic synthesizers and drum machines, getting into this world and doing it well is certainly emblematic for the way the market will change at large.
And anyway, Steve Lacy was doing it four years ago. About time the industry caught up.
If you could remove every single wire from your home studio and still have everything work perfectly, are you really telling me you wouldn’t do it? Companies around the world are racing to find a solution that all but eliminates latency from wireless audio, removing the need for cables in an increasingly space, waste, and aesthetically-conscious world.
AIAIAI’s Wireless+ headphones are heralds for what are sure to be many similar models in the space – they’re headphones stacked with the latest protocols for low-latency wireless use, meaning they’re perfect for those who need to move around their studio, or those who are working on the go and don’t want to worry about wires. For their trouble, AIAIAI’s flagship wireless cans for music making have been endorsed by the likes of Yaeji and Knxwledge.
Outside of headphones, CME continues to push the boundaries of wireless MIDI with the WIDI Master, and software companies like Pibox and JamKazam are offering solutions that allow musicians to collaborate in real time over long distances.
Slowly but surely we’re shortening the latency gap that’s stopping many creators from embracing a wireless future, but all evidence points to it happening nice and soon.