Industry Watch: February

February 20 2013, 13:01

Gornik to Leave Thiel Audio

Thiel Audio has been acquired by a private equity firm based in Nashville, TN. New Thiel CEO Bill Thomas has indicated that the brand focus will continue to be on premium-quality phase and time-coherent loudspeakers, with longtime Thiel employees Brad Paulsen, Gary Dayton, Lana Ruth, and Rob Gillum all remaining on board. As a result, Thiel president/CEO Kathy Gornik is leaving the company, which she co-founded in 1976, according to a company spokesperson.

The brand will continue to focus on premium phase- and time-coherent speakers; however, Thiel also plans to explore new product categories. An immediate priority is an expansion of the architectural series, which will further establish the brand as a premium distributed audio solutions supplier. The entire factory team and existing reps and dealers will remain on board. Thiel’s R&D and manufacturing facility in Lexington, KY, will remain and continue to operate at full capacity.

In 2009, Jim Thiel, co-founder and co-owner of Thiel Audio, passed away at the age of 61. Thiel, who was the company’s product design engineer, co-founded the company that bears his name in 1976 with Gornik. Thiel did not disclose the equity company’s name or Thomas’s experience but said that information would be forthcoming.


Meridian Audio Opens First U.S. Retail Store

Ultra-premium A/V manufacturer Meridian Audio announced plans to open its first U.S. retail store. The showroom will be the manufacturer’s 14th shop worldwide. Like its sister boutiques, the new Fort Lauderdale, FL, location was created to provide “a unique retail environment” to showcase the company’s product line and present “a full Meridian experience,” the UK-based manufacturer said. That experience includes a state-of-the-art home theater featuring the company’s distributed media systems, DSP digital active loudspeakers, and a Reference-series line of music and video players. Other dedicated “zones” include The Gallery, which displays Meridian’s compact products and recounts its history, and The Concierge Reception, a lounge where clients can discuss system and installation details.

The showroom itself utilizes natural materials (e.g., hardwoods, leather, and fabrics) in combination with accents of fine metals and architectural glass to present the premium line within a luxury setting. The showroom is owned and operated by Nicholas Ehr and Tim Ralph, childhood friends who have been in the residential custom install and commercial IT business since 2003. The duo is already forging partnerships with other local business, including Ferrari of Fort Lauderdale.

Based in Cambridgeshire, UK, Meridian Audio was founded in 1977 by psychoacoustics expert Bob Stuart and design engineer Allen Boothroyd. The company is credited with developing the first audiophile CD player, the first consumer digital surround controller, and the MLP lossless packing system included in Blu-ray discs.


Krell Enters Car Audio Market

The 2014 Acura RLX now comes with a Krell-branded sound system.

High-end home-audio supplier Krell Industries entered the car audio market with the launch of a Krell-branded sound system in the 2014 Acura RLX. The luxury car’s premium OEM system, developed in collaboration with Krell, put in an appearance at the Los Angeles, CA, Auto Show. The sound system’s main amplifier channels use the same bipolar power transistors appearing in Krell’s home amps to deliver a third less distortion than a “leading competitor’s flagship luxury car amplifier,” according to Krell.

The system’s tweeters feature lightweight magnesium cones to deliver extraordinary musical detail and extended high frequencies without any trace of harshness, according to Krell. Metal grilles were used because their strength enables them to have more open area to enhance sonic transparency. Metal grilles also vibrate less than plastic grilles, again, according to Krell. The system’s six mid-bass drivers are made from rigid Zylon fiber, which responds quickly to musical input and stops moving when the input signal stops, delivering cleaner more detailed sound than polypropylene cones that continue moving “well after” the music stops. The system also includes a carbon-fiber composite subwoofer and dedicated 100-W subwoofer amp. Visit www.krellonline.com for more information.


Audiomobile to Offer New Subwoofer Line

Audiomobile’s new logo

Audiomobile, which targets 12-V specialists, has begun shipping a trio of car subwoofers that include a model designed for both small-box sealed and vented enclosures. The products are the brand’s first in about a decade. The three low-profile models in the Elite 2200 series are the 2212, 2210, and 2208 offered at suggested retail prices of $399, $329, and $279, respectively. The 12” 2212, designed for flexible enclosure installs, features a mid-Q rating said to be ideal for either small vented (bass-reflex) or small sealed enclosures of less than 1 ft3. The mounting depth is only 5.8,” which is less than that required by many high-performance 10” subwoofers while offering more power handling at 600 W RMS, the company said.

The other two models are optimized for sealed or free-air (infinite-baffle) applications. The 8” Elite 2208 is just 4.25” deep, handles 400 W RMS, and delivers 12.5 mm of one-way linear excursion, said by the company to be on par with many high-performance 12” subwoofers.

The brand privately presented its first new products at the 2011 CES after it was purchased by AMG, a Nevada-based investment group that acquired rights to brand in 2010. The brand is focused on high-profit, high-technology speakers and subwoofers at high-value price points through disciplined channel management, according to Audiomobile. Audiomobile’s history goes back decades. In the 1980s, radar-detector supplier K40 bought Audiomobile but closed it down a few years later. The Audiomobile brand was revived in 2000 as an online-only, consumer-direct company, but the company closed early in the decade. For more information, visit www.audiomobileonline.com.


Sonus Faber Upgrades Its Image

Sonus Faber now offers six models in the Venere series, including this floor-standing speaker.

Sonus Faber is adopting a “more youthful and aggressive appearance” in its latest series of home speakers, which also bring the brand to new price points.

Six models in the Venere series, priced up to $3,498 a pair for a three-way floor-standing speaker, feature double curved sides, a tapered shape, and a sculpted top embellished with tempered glass. The shape delivers structural strength and controls resonances to deliver undistorted sound, and it reduces visual mass and promotes versatility of room positioning.

All models are available in high-gloss black or white piano lacquer finishes. The Venere series ranges in price from $1,200 to $3,500 a pair, while the previous entry-level family, called the Liuto Collection, ranges in price from $2,500 to $5,500 a pair. The Venere family includes two floor-standing models, two bookshelf models with optional floor stands, a wall-mount speaker, and a center channel. The Model 2.5 2.5-way floor standing speaker, released in October 2012 at $2,498 a pair, features a 7” woofer, a 7” midwoofer, and a 1” soft-dome silk tweeter. The Model 3.0 3.5-way floor-standing speaker, released in December 2012 at $3,498 a pair, features two 7” woofers, a 6” midrange, and a 1” soft-dome silk tweeter. The Model 1.5 two-way bookshelf, released in October 2012 at $1,198 a pair, features a 6” mid-woofer and a 1” soft-dome tweeter. Optional floor stands cost $398 a pair. The Model 2.0 two-way bookshelf, released in December 2012 at $1,698 a pair, features a 7” mid-woofer and a 1” soft-dome silk tweeter. Optional floor stands cost $398 a pair. The Venere Wall two-way speaker, released in December 2012 at $698 each, comes with an adjustable wall-mount angle bracket, a 6” midwoofer, a 6” passive radiator, and a 1” soft-dome silk tweeter. The Venere Center two-way center channel, released in October 2012 at $798 each, features an adjustable angle plinth base, two 6” mid-woofers, and a 1” soft-dome silk tweeter.


Holophone and Q5X Announce Technology Partnership

Holophone, originators of multi-channel surround sound microphones, and Quantum5X, creators of leading-edge professional broadcast-quality wireless audio solutions, joined forces to develop a new standard in handheld wireless microphone systems.

The NAMM Show 2013, hosted by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), January 24–27, 2013, in Anaheim, CA, marked the debut of the first of three upcoming single-channel wireless systems, featuring Holophone’s new customizable handheld Super C supercardioid condenser mic.

Holophone’s new single-channel microphones feature the same proprietary capsule design used in the company’s acclaimed surround sound mics, including the award-winning H2-PRO, the world-class standard for concert sound, broadcast, film, and music recording.

Q5X is the preeminent manufacturer of professional broadcast-quality wireless systems designed for demanding sports and live event productions. The new wireless systems will integrate Holophone’s cutting-edge line of high-quality, customizable handheld microphones with Q5X’s acclaimed broadcast-quality radio-frequency technologies to create a state-of-the art, audiophile-quality wireless system delivering unparalleled sound, performance, and show-stopping looks.

Holophone and Q5X plan to inroduce a series of remote control wireless microphone systems at April’s NAB Show, which is sponsered by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) in Las Vegas, NV. For more product information, visit www.holophone.com


AES to Host the 49th International Conference on Audio for Games

The Audio Engineering Society (AES) 49th International Conference on Audio for Games on February 6–8, 2013, is prepping for a memorable foray into the art of real-time interactive sound. The conference will be held at 2 Carlton House Terrace in the heart of London, UK, next door to the 2009 conference location.

Conference keynote speaker Robin Rimbaud (aka, Scanner) is an artist, writer, and composer working in London. His work traverses the experimental terrain between sound, space, image and form, connecting a diverse array of genres (e.g., sound design, film scores, computer music, digital avant-garde, contemporary composition, large-scale multimedia performances, product design, architecture, fashion design, rock music, and jazz).

He scored the hit musical comedy Kirikou & Karaba (2007), wrote Europa 25, a new National Anthem for Europe in 2005, premiered his 6-h show Of Air and Ear (2008) at the Royal Opera House in London, and designed the sound for the new Philips Wake-Up Light (2009). He also worked on the national cinema campaign for Sprint USA (2012) Chanel’s Fall-Winter collection (2012) and music for the Olympic Ceremony in London in 2012. For additional information, visit www.audioforgames.net

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