Some Groovy Data

The graphic above was created with data provided to me by the CTA (Consumer Technology Association). I understand that this data cannot possibly account for every single turntable sold in any given year, but I believe that this is the most accurate account of data currently available to us.

I deliberately chose not to include LP sales data, because I believe turntable sales data to be more valuable alone. These figures represent people discovering or rediscovering their newfound appreciation for turntables, rather than existing turntable owners listening to (or collecting) more LPs. It represents a commitment. It is also worth noting that gross annual CD player sale data is not included here because the CTA stopped collecting that data after 2005.

816janattbl.2.jpg

When looking at these figures, it is important that we understand how wide the "turntables" category really is. The jump in 2008 is likely connected to the start of Record Store Day, and the spike in 2015 clearly reflects the monumental comeback of vinyl.

Beyond that, there are many more unanswered variables. Is there a direct correlation between turntable sales and the audiophile population? What percentage of these units is used for DJing? How many of these units are Crosleys sold by Urban Outfitters? What about the number of used sales and trades? What about the rest of their setup? Do they care about sound quality? What is the ratio of affordable quantity versus less affordable quality in these numbers? What demographic is responsible for most of these purchases? And so on.

However, while these variables are all worth considering, it is most important to realize that people are listening more and there are more people listening.

COMMENTS
Allen Fant's picture

Nice! Jana

no doubt that there are a plethora of TT makers now.

Venere's picture

Per these charts, the average price paid in 2016 was $74.53. I guess there weren't a whole lot of TechDAS Air Force Ones (or Twos for that matter) included in these totals.

Kal Rubinson's picture

The spike in 2015/6 looks, to me, as if it is due to a different data collection system. A 1200% increase is so large that it cries out for a reliable correlate and I, for one, cannot think of one. What big thing happened in music/audio at that time?

fetuso's picture

I'm pretty sure I read something early this year that the number one electronic item sold on Amazon during the holidays (or maybe the previous year?) was a turntable. Can't remember the brand, but it was an inexpensive one. I bought my first TT in many years in 2015, a Music Hall Mmf 2.2. I enjoy it almost every day. In my case I bought it because I grew tired of the scourge of too much dynamic range compression of digital music. Most of the records I've bought are AAA, but the ones I have from digital files sound better to me than their digital counterparts.

Anton's picture

I searched LP sales for 2015 and Forbes put it at 12 million.

1.2 million turntables sold in 2015...

If only people who bought turntables that year bought records, it would be a convenient 10 records per turntable owner! But, that would mean none for anyone else.

(That, of course, leaves out used LP sales.)

Very interesting data and thank you for making it visual for us!

This should make for some whopping LP sales numbers coming up soon.

Audio_Visionary's picture

As the owner of a high end audio shop - with Dr Feickert and AMG on display. I would say that our sales of $400 - $500 turntables have basically been level the past 3 or 4 years. We do see a lot of turntables which need new styli or setups - people who have purchased an in-expensive (not so good) turntable from Bed Bath and Beyond. I can't quite believe the figures which were posted.

tonykaz's picture

The data seems and reads ><)))))'> .

My granddaughter got a little blue portable Record Player for a High-School graduation present, it even has a 45 hole adaptor. It looks like it's built to be in Waste Management's Land Fill within a year.

I'm figuring this Record Player data is about Mass Market/Price Point stuff designed for K-Mart shelves not Audiophile grade product.

It might be useful to have Art Dudley review one of these "Affordable" players which he could simply throw it in the Trash, as the Review is completed! ( or return it to Walmart for a Full re-fund )

Tony in Michigan

count.de.monet's picture

as has been said already that data is suspect. can't believe it went to print with that glaring jump unchecked/unexplained. can we at least trust the measurements printed here?

Kal Rubinson's picture

What has this to do with measurements? It was clearly stated that the data in the graph was supplied "by the CTA (Consumer Technology Association)." Ask them.

pwf2739's picture

With such a disproportionate increase in TT sales from 2014 to 2015 & 2016, as well as the average sale price, it certainly makes a convincing case for inexpensive mass merchandised units like the Crosley. If the data are predominately inclusive of units such as Crosley and others in their same price class, then the data is of little use to audiophiles. Because no breakdown of the actual individual cost of turntable sales has been provided, then there is little means of knowing for sure what the data actually represents. It also, as it applies to audiophiles, does not show any data for the rest of what is required for an analog section of an audiophile level audio system -- components such as a cartridge, tonearm cable, phonostage, interconnects, power cords, etc. One is of little use without all the rest if you plan to actually play an album. I seriously doubt it would even be possible, but I'd love to see some sort of metric that collects sales dollars / units sold of the entire analog section and not just a turntable. That would give a true representation of what is happening in analog sales. However, I'd also admit that the collection of such data, especially reliable data, would probably be next to impossible to assemble, take an inordinately long time to collect, and be skewed by the time it took to collect making the data invalid. If anything, this data should make the producers of LP's very happy. Bottom line, I see this as promising news because maybe, just perhaps, some of those very inexpensive turntable owners might venture into what better sounding music sounds like. All audiophiles must begin somewhere.

cgh's picture

My initial thought when I saw the data was that it was further up the chain at some wholesale / distribution level. I can't imagine anyone getting reliable POS data. Those that would share (brick and mortar) can't; and those that can (AMZN) won't. Therefore perhaps it is stock piling and perhaps export. Wholesale / distribution also supports the very low average price. What do I know? I am nowhere near the world of sales.

PAR's picture

This data appears to relate ONLY to USA ( and , maybe, Canada) sales. The vinyl industry is worldwide and most turntable makers do not sell only to the USA. So you can imagine that the complete annual sales figures for turntables are much higher. Which should be a major factor in preserving the availabilty of turntables for many years to come.

Even given the geographic limitation there is a further question as to how comprehensive the collection of data by CTA from outlets is. I have the impression from their website that the periodic data collection sheets may only be circulated to stores that are CTA members.

Inclusion of Figures for 2016 are odd and will serve to mislead future readers of this posting. We are only at the end of August. Presumably more turntables will be sold before the year end?

Bill Leebens's picture

Several years ago I met with the head researcher at CTA (then CEA), and quickly learned that there was no worthwhile data pertaining to the high end.

As I was about to leave, he mentioned, "y'know, I was looking the other day, and I was surprised at how many turntables are still being made."

I didn't smack my forehead, but I wanted to.

Based on the average sales price of the 'tables in the graph, it looks like they still don't have worthwhile data for the high end of the market.

Eoldschool's picture

We have to remember that high-end audio is a niche, so it is likely that it will not be counted in national polls. How many folks can really afford a $20k plus turntable?
Just in talking to folks too, I find most people purchasing TTs now are not audiophiles, but re-discoverers of music after a steady diet of compressed digital or empty streaming. They hear a basic analog front end system with even moderately priced or reasonably priced gear and bang, instant converts. They long for the feel and sound of vinyl again or if young enough perhaps, for the first time. Also, those folks are not buying TTs from box stores and the like. They are not buying the throw away stuff anymore. Once they learn that they can get an inexpensive Music Hall or Project or many others that are really actually fine tables (you can tweak them to your liking just by changing the platter mat or cartridge or phono stage), that's what they are buying. By the way, Crosley has come out with a turntable made by Project, just FYI. (No, I do not have one. I use legacy TTs)

Venere's picture

The article never said it was for "high-end" (whatever that means in quantifiable terms)turntables. It just said turntables. The average price paid makes that pretty clear. Jeez guys...chill. It's simply a graphic representation of the current fad of people buying a product that they think is cool and hip and trendy. Soon to be replaced by upscale vintage-look clock radios or whatever Sharper Image catalog, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon push as this year's must have hipster item. BTW...did you know that most folks who buy these tables play records that were mastered from digital recordings and download the output from the table to their phone/tablet so they can listen to it on the run. It's classic marketing nonsense and has NOTHING at all to do with higher quality "analog" audio. Trust me, the folks who buy expensive "high end" turntables are still in one of the smallest minorities in the entire retail universe. So small in fact, that based on many of the above comments the data doesn't even exist to track their purchases. This trend, like matte car wraps and neon lights under your Civic, shall pass.

Bill Leebens's picture

NT

Eoldschool's picture

Adding my voice to Bill's...."paging Michael Fremer please, Mr. Michael Fremer, please pick up the white courtesy FAD phone". LOL!
Actually, I've run into those type before Bill and I just ignore them now. It's a waste of time.

Anton's picture

Of course it's a fad. Why do people get so upset with that?

3 million 'record players' sold in the past 2 years, up from an average of 100,00 per year in the prior decade.

With an average price of 75 bucks.

What part of that spike and the corresponding price per unit doesn't scream 'fad?'

And why is it bad to be a fad?

You think the hobby has added 3 million ongoing record buyers to the hobby in the past 20 months? I would wager not.

Ride the wave and grab the vinyl that might not have been pressed without the fad and be happy.

BillK's picture

I have no doubt that the days of being able to walk into Barnes and Noble and pick up new vinyl are numbered at best, but I'll enjoy it while it lasts.

As an aside, I've now been to a few B&Ns that have reduced their CD selection to a small area off to the side and are (ironically) using their old CD racks to display... vinyl.

(For those who are too young to remember, the CD "long box" was invented so that retailers could use their old vinyl racks to display CDs:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longbox
)

The only bad thing is that all these folks picking up their brand new Crosleys will think that all turntables destroy their vinyl as rapidly as those turntables do, reinforcing every negative stereotype of vinyl that originally drove CD adoption.

A much more frightening trend is Urban Outfitters now carries newly made cassettes, which now sound even worse as they no longer are Dolby-encoded as Dolby no longer makes or licenses Dolby NR chips/circuits:

http://www.urbanoutfitters.com/urban/catalog/productdetail.jsp?id=38416731
http://www.urbanoutfitters.com/urban/catalog/productdetail.jsp?id=39421706

texanalog's picture

For what it's worth, this year I've noticed that entry or near entry-level turntables made by Pro-ject, Rega and VPI have been more frequently placed on sale by online stores. Additionally, I've noticed vinyl being placed on sale more frequently on eBay as well as on other online stores. Overproduction?