Finding a non-conglomerate audio/video maker

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In the same way that there is essentially just one mechanical watchmaker, one sunglasse maker and one optical company, there is an incredible concentration in the home theater maker. Like skis and other passion projects the key is to find an independent group that cares about the product. And not a gigantic conglomerate looking for profits or marketing companies using the Internet. That’s not easy as explained by Audioholics.

As an example, here are some famous brands are really just one company, DEI Holdings which is owned by Charlesbank so you can guess margins are pretty good.

As an example looking at Home Theater Hifi and Audioholics reviews eight of the 1M reviews on the front page are made by a single company:

  • Definitive Technology. Some of my favorite speakers that we got in 2002 was acquired in 2004.
  • Polk Audio. Acquired in 2006.
  • Bought out by Charlesbank
  • Sound United formed from Polk, Deftech and Boom
  • D+M acquired in March 2017 which added Denon, Marantz and Boston Acoustics.
  • Rotel. Family owned from Japan them in 80s became part of Bowers & Wilkins
  • Classé. Joined B&W then acquired by Sound United in 2018

So looking at the rest by Lenbrook Group

  • NAD was founded in 1972 and eventually sold
  • Bluesound.
  • PSB Speakers

Then another huge group owned by Samsung: Harmon International

  • Arcam. Acquired 2017 by Harmon
  • AKG
  • AMX
  • Becker
  • BSS Audio
  • Crwon
  • DXB
  • Digitech
  • Harmon Kardon
  • Infinity
  • JBL
  • Lexicon
  • Mark Levinson
  • Martin
  • Revel
  • Soundcraft. 1988
  • Student

VOXX just bought Onkyo Corporation. But sadly they’ve stopped distributing during pandemic and was just our based by Voxx:

  • 808 Audio
  • Acoustic Research
  • Advent
  • CarLink
  • Champ
  • Chipmunks
  • Code-Alarm
  • InVision
  • Jamo
  • Jensen
  • Kli0sch
  • magnat
  • Prestige
  • Pursuit
  • RCA
  • Surface Clean
  • Terk
  • Onkyo
  • Pioneer acquired 2015 and status unknown but probably closed.
  • Integra

McIntosh Group is another asset management group Quadrivio SGR and then a buyout by LBO France and Yarra

  • Sonus Faber 2007
  • Audio Research 2009 which was just sold to its sales manager in 2020.
  • Sumiko 2010
  • Wadis 2011
  • McIntosh 2012

Still independent but big are:

Then there are smaller still independent companies are you have to consult the various forums.

But ATI or Amplifier Technologies Inc. makes amps all in Los Angeles which is pretty cool for with the ATI 4002 Pros or the Class D AT522NC

  • lexicon
  • SAE
  • Theta
  • Monoprice
  • ATI labeled products

Monoprice is a low cost makers of all kinds of things and they are licensing two interesting things:

  • HTP-1. I don’t know who makes this but at $4K it is well priced for a 16 channel preamp

Then there are the direct company outlaw Audio

  • Outlaw Audio. The original direct company. I’ve had for a while. The power supply finally broke. Likened to a Toyota and recent customer support problems. They are reselling ATI produced hardware at the high end. As well as They don’t make their own hardware so use ODMs for this. It’s a tough business. They also source from Taiwan that also supplies Parasound, Harmon, speakercraft, Sonance. And from China factory that supplies NAD, Harmon, Cambridge , Speakercraftband Russsound
  • Atlantic Technology. Thye make speakers.

Another separate small companies is by Jade Design based in Nashville TN. They use ODMs in China and do marketing and some engineering. And changed hands from Dan Laufman.

  • Emotiva. They’ve changed hands as well and offer a lower price product vs the top of the line outlaw.
  • Sherbourn. The higher end installation
  • Bob Carver for a millisecond and then not.

So what to recommend

Some others from the Audioholics are:

  • Schitt Audio
  • SVS for subwoofers and speakers although others think it’s a marketing company since it’s run by a former retailer.
  • Vivid Audio. For speakers.
  • Krell.
  • Nakymatone speakers
  • Gray Sound speakers
  • Stealth Acoustics speakers
  • Tectonic Design speakers
  • Audio Research

Finally three audio brands were just bought by their original owner: Scott Bagley from Canada in 2019:

  • Paradigm. Scott was the original founder
  • Anthem. They have a good share of the market with MRX 1120 as their flagship 11.2. Or the AVM 70/90 which is 15.2. But the new MRX`1140 just released with 10 amps and 15 channels of preamp.
  • MartinLogan

AudioControl is Seattle based independent that are made in the US

Cherry Audio is another example. A US made amplifier is going to be 2-4x more expensive. So for $6K that can output 2kW into 2 ohms! And they have a version that supplies 1kW total to 5 channels. Sor great for home theater for a who[pinh $3500 for five channels. Should last a lifetime.

Strake Sound is another r independent company founded in 2009. It is $5200 for. And they have a class D design 200W into * ohms. It is class d amplifier AD4.320

Then there are the big Japanese companies:

Yamaha is a diversified conglomerate making everything from pianos to audio equipment.

Sony. They also makes components.

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