[WORD ILLEGIBLE] buyers this year may be wooed by [WORD ILLEGIBLE] emphasizing the "personal [WORD ILLEGIBLE] aspect of owning stereo [WORD ILLEGIBLE] Marketing people have their set their [WORD ILLEGIBLE] on what they loosely define as the [WORD ILLEGIBLE] market"; indeed, a booklet is being prepared that will advise saleperson how to sell components to college students. Some companies also are eye- [WORD ILLEGIBLE] retail outlets such as department stores for a broader marketing [WORD ILLEGIBLE]
Prices in general will probably be up [WORD ILLEGIBLE] 10 percent, with another rise expected later in the year. The reason is [WORD ILLEGIBLE] of the U.S. dollar abroad, especially vis-a-vis Japanese yen that is gaining in value. Since so many audio components are being made in Japan, this currency flux will influence prices for products sold here. German-made imports probably also will cost more due to the relatively strong position of the German mark.
Competition in all product areas will intensify, with the most contested areas likely to be phono pickups, speakers and high-powered receivers. Look for an increase in the number and frequency of "pickup clinics" - technical sessions at dealers sponsored by a cartridge manufacturer. Speaker systems will continue to be touted with all manner of performances and design claims, some faily esoteric. in receivers, the wattage race continues unabated; the latest entry here is Pioneer's model SX-1980, priced at $1,250 and offering an unprecedented 270 watts per channel at 0.03 percent distortion.
The number of small records label offering "direct-to-disc" releases (mostly pops and small ensembles) will increase. So will the number of the furniture-styled rack mounts, most of which are frankly designed to accommodat a give line of components although at least one manufacturer - Gusdorf of St. Louis - will market a line of modified etageres intended to hold different brands and models of audio components. Barzilay, the West Coast hi-fi furniture manufacturer, has yet to be heard from but my guess is that they will announce something in this area before long. They should, they are so good at it.
Record cleaners and tapes accessories will get renewed emphasis as manufacturers expand their lines and retailers are urged to sell them more aggressively because of consumer appeal and ample profit margin.
In speaker systems there are, so far, two new "firsts." One is a full-range ESS model using an all-Heil design instead of conventional drivers. Known as the Transar, it lists for about $3,500 for a stereo pair. This price includes a special amplifier to drive the bass sections. An additional stereo power amp and electronic crossover are needed to handle the Transar upper range. The other novel entry is AR's first tower speaker - the AR-9, over four feet high, using partial horn-loading for its tweeter, and with two woofers facing in opposite directions near the bottom. List price is $650 per system.
Probably the most novel aspect of what's ahead in hi-fi is an anticipated influx of audio components from - Hungary.