Tag Archives: Business

Sennheiser CEOs Talk Consumer Partner Search

Co-CEOs Daniel (left) and Andreas Sennheiser.
Co-CEOs Daniel (left) and Andreas Sennheiser. Ludwig Schöpfer / StudioTusch

New York, NY (February 22, 2021)—Pro-audio mainstay Sennheiser turned heads last week with the announcement it is searching to find a new corporate partner for its Consumer Electronic division. Under the expected arrangement, the consumer division would gain additional resources that a partner could bring to the brand, allowing Sennheiser to focus on its Neumann, Pro Audio and Business Communications business units, co-CEOs Andreas and Daniel Sennheiser told PSN.

Opting to team with an outside entity is no small decision for the 75-year-old company; the consumer electronics division, which introduced its first headphones in 1968, comprises roughly half the manufacturer’s business, said Andreas Sennheiser. The partnership search, then, is the result of “actually having more opportunities at hand than we can give all the full potential [under our current] setup.”

The decision came after an internal assessment of the company’s divisions, said Daniel Sennheiser: “Looking at the different business units in more detail, we realized we need different strategies to make them successful. How we can develop all four business segments at the same time with the necessary power, so all markets that we’re in have great growth opportunities? We saw that the consumer part can be really driven to the full extent if we can find a partner and focus on the pro part.”

Sennheiser MD 435 and MD 445 Microphones – A Real-World Review

In recent years, the company has sought to make the various business units more independent, creating separate sales forces for each. “Now this is the next level,” said Andreas Sennheiser. “[All four] need investment in technology and audio competency, but also in sales and marketing. We believe that we can do this very well long term on the pro businesses, and a partner will help us accelerate the growth on the consumer business.”

While the CEOs are open to discussing a variety of approaches as they begin the search, one scenario that’s off the table is the possibility of selling the brand outright, said Andreas Sennheiser: “It’s our family name, and therefore we’ll hold that close to the family.”

As the manufacturer plans to focus on its other three business units once a partner is in place, plans are already afoot for those divisions. Daniel Sennheiser noted, “We’re looking forward to the pandemic lifting, especially now for live and broadcast, where we believe that we’ll see a renaissance of the industry; the public is really waiting for live events to come back. It’ll still be a little bit difficult for this year, we believe, but then in 2022, we’ll see great growth.”

The CEOs noted that the pandemic has aided their MI-based efforts, with the rise in home recording and home studios creating an upswing for both the Sennheiser and Neumann brands. “That area has actually grown significantly and gives us more opportunities to also invest into R&D and more products,” Daniel Sennheiser added. The pro-audio division’s broadcast and audio-for-video offerings, will be an upcoming focus, too, as they are the subjects of “strong plans and strong pipelines.”

Sennheiser isn’t letting the consumer division sit idle during the search either. “Every plan, every strategy that was in place prior to this announcement is still there,” said Andreas Sennheiser, “so we’re still driving the business strongly. With a new partner on the consumer side, we can even grow stronger there, creating therefore a better future for all sides.”

Sennheiser • https://en-us.sennheiser.com/

 

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Sweetwater Revenues Roll Past $1 Billion

Chuck Surack, founder and CEO of Sweetwater.
Chuck Surack, founder and CEO of Sweetwater.

Fort Wayne, IN (February 17, 2021)—The past year was one for the record books in the U.S., and not in a good way, thanks to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Yet there was a silver lining for some, including pro audio equipment and music instrument retailer Sweetwater, which set its own record in 2020.

With professionals gearing up to work from home during lockdown, individuals and organizations implementing new video streaming and podcasting solutions, and a good chunk of the population looking to further its musical ambitions, Sweetwater served more than 1.5 million customers last year. That proved to be a significant increase from 2019, and 2020 ultimately drove the company’s annual revenues past the $1 billion milestone in for the first time in Sweetwater’s 42-year history.

Caring customer engagement has been key, according to CEO Chuck Surack, who famously started Sweetwater Sound as a mobile recording studio in the back of his VW microbus in 1979. Initially working from home, the company’s sales engineers struggled with how to best contact and communicate with customers, he reports. “I advised them to follow suit with our company’s mission, which is to simply ‘do the right thing’ and call just to ask them how they’re doing. No hidden agendas or sneaky ways to try and push or sell products.”

Noting that 82% of calls with customers are outgoing, Surack adds, “We’re continuing with this frequency and form of communication as it’s been preferred by our customers.” Most of Sweetwater’s 500-plus sales engineers have returned to the company’s campus during the pandemic, where they are following CDC and local government guidelines.

Sweetwater's new 480,000-square-foot distribution center
Sweetwater’s new 480,000-square-foot distribution center

That campus is ever-growing, too. Just prior to the pandemic, Sweetwater opened a new 480,000-square-foot distribution center—four times the size of the previous building—that added 50,000 more square feet for inventory. The company also added 400 new jobs last year, a 30% bump in the total workforce, which now numbers around 2,000.

“We built a brand-new sales floor in November that can house around 1,100 sales engineers,” says Surack, who plans to hire up to 130 new sales engineers. “We also have some expansion plans in the works for our on-campus music store. It will be double the size of the current store and should open late this spring.”

Sweetwater’s annual summer GearFest attracted more than 18,000 people to the campus in 2019. In 2020, in response to the pandemic, the company took the event online. More than 125,000 people participated worldwide, tuning in for 16-plus hours of livestreamed panel sessions and interviews, educational content and, of course, deals and giveaways, during the two-day event.

“We’ll plan to continue offering a virtual component so that we can meet our customers and fans of music where they are,” says Surack. “While there’s nothing like having nearly 20,000 people in-person at our campus in Fort Wayne from all around the world, we still want to allow the opportunity for people to experience GearFest from the comfort of their home if they can’t make it to us. With Covid-19 still a concern, we’re working out the plans and logistics for GearFest 2021; however, we look forward to the future where we can offer both experiences.”

Surack founded Sweetwater Sound in the back of his VW microbus in 1979.
Surack founded Sweetwater Sound in the back of his Volkswagon microbus in 1979.

There has been one constant during the pandemic, says Surack, a former touring sax and keyboard player. “Despite how much of the way we live, work and gather has changed over the last year, especially for the audio community, one thing has remained consistent—music. While many stadiums and concert venues have been empty and will likely stay that way for some time, people will continue to play and make music virtually or from a distance. In 2020, we experienced skyrocketing sales for gear like audio interfaces, microphones, preamps and other devices that allow you to pre-record and put things on YouTube or use for Zoom and live broadcasts. We anticipate that this will remain consistent as more people take up an interest in making music remotely, perhaps for the long haul.”

Hopefully, that love of music will see us through to whatever comes next. “While the industry has definitely not remained unscathed by the pandemic,” he says, “I am confident that music will continue to prevail until the community is able to return to a sense of normalcy.”

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

VUE Audiotechnik on the Move

Michael von Keitz
Michael von Keitz

New York, NY (February 17, 2021)—Big changes are afoot at VUE Audiotechnik, from who the loudspeaker manufacturer’s management to how you reach the company.

Michael von Keitz, who co-founded VUE Audiotechnik in 2012, recently acquired full ownership of the company. It’s not his first time dealing with live sound, as von Keitz established his first speaker company in Solingen, Germany in 1980. Since then, he has grown a fully integrated, international pro-audio portfolio with the brands vue audiotechnik, se audiotechnik and mivoc. Along with changes at the top comes a change in the company’s internet presence, as its domain name has changed to www.vue-audiotechnik.com.

Live Concerts Come Back to Alaska

“The huge potential of an absolute high-end brand such as VUE was always clear to me,” said von Keitz. “The synergy of bringing together all our resources under one organization will allow us to better meet customer needs without any compromise.”

According to von Keitz, the integration of the entire value-added chain with the group’s engineering and manufacturing  resources will drive the pace of growth of the brand’s products and technologies. VUE expects this to pave the way for a quicker time to market and an early extension of the product portfolio into installed applications. Likewise, the integration of the sales and marketing departments is anticipated to lead to better communications and customer support.

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Rupert Neve, Pro Audio Legend, Dead at 94

Rupert Neve
Rupert Neve

Wimberley, TX (February 13, 2021)—Legendary pro-audio equipment designer Rupert Neve died February 12, 2021 due to non COVID-related pneumonia and heart failure. Neve’s passing brought to an end a career of more than 70 years that saw him create some of pro audio’s most revered, imitated and sought-after equipment, created for all corners of the industry, from recording to radio to live sound and more. As much an entrepreneur as he was an inventor, Neve’s legacy includes a slew of companies bearing his name, and it is no exaggeration to say equipment based on his designs will be used in studios around the world for decades to come. He was 94.

Born July 31, 1926 in Newton Abbot, England, Rupert Neve grew up in in Buenos Aires, Argentina; showing an interest in audio early on, he began designing audio amplifiers and radio receivers at 13, soon repairing and selling radios as a business before volunteering at age 17 to join the Royal Signals during World War II, providing communications support to the British Army. Following the war, he settled back in England, where he built a mobile recording studio used to cut operas, speeches, choirs and more on to lacquer discs. Concurrently, he also provided sound reinforcement systems for events involving Princess (later Queen) Elizabeth II and Winston Churchill.

Neve worked for a variety of companies in the 1950s before eventually striking out on his own to found CQ Audio, which produced Hi-Fi speaker systems. This attracted the attention of composer Desmond Leslie, who commissioned Neve to build a mixing console for him in the early 1960s; the console is still in residence in Castle Leslie, Ireland.

The Leslie console led to Neve founding the first of multiple audio companies that would bear his name, Neve Electronics, in 1961, initially operating out of his home before moving into proper facilities later in the Sixties. As the use of transistors gained popularity, Neve developed a transistor-based console for London’s Phillips Recording Studio in 1964, and continued to create new desks, most notably the Neve 80 and 50 series, which are revered for their microphone preamp, equalizer and processing modules, such as the widely cloned and emulated 1073 and 1081. Neve also developed the first moving fader system, NECAM (NEve Computer Assisted Mixdown); after seeing a pre-release demo on a Neve 16/4 console, Beatles producer George Martin’s first words were “How soon can I have one?” and Martin’s AIR Studios in London soon became the first NECAM-enabled facility.

Neve sold the company in the mid-1970s and left to form ARN Consultants, the result of a 10-year non-compete clause in the sales contract. ARN in turn teamed up with Amek Systems, a collaboration that led to Neve developing the Amek 9098 console, as well as outboard gear and his Transformer-Like Amplifier (TLA) design, which featured in numerous Amek desks.

Rupert Neve signing an RND 5088 mixing console, installed in Blue Rock Artist Ranch and Studio in Wimberley, TX, in 2013.
Rupert Neve signing an RND 5088 mixing console, installed in Blue Rock Artist Ranch and Studio in Wimberley, TX, in 2013.

In 1985, ARN founded Focusrite Ltd., primarily producing outboard gear such as dynamic processors and EQs, as well as another large-format console, of which only eight were made before the company was liquidated in 1989; the company’s assets were purchased by a new company, Focusrite Audio Engineering (today Focusrite PLC), with which Neve was not involved. Concurrently, but likewise unrelated directly to Neve himself, the original Neve Electronics was sold to Siemens in 1985, which in turn merged with UK company Advanced Music Systems, resulting in pro-audio manufacturer AMS-Neve, which continues to this day.

Neve and his wife, Evelyn, moved to Wimberley, Texas in late 1994, and in 1997, he became only the third person to receive a Technical Grammy Award. The Neves became U.S. citizens in 2002 and founded Rupert Neve Designs in 2005, which today produces a variety of products, including its 5088 analog mixing console and a range of rackmount and desktop equipment for processing, summing and more. Even so, Neve continued to also create products for other companies, including preamps and pickups for Taylor Guitars, microphones for sE Electronics, plug-ins for Yamaha’s live sound consoles, and more.

Over the course of his career, Rupert Neve was awarded 16 TEC Awards for his Rupert Neve Designs products, and in 2006, received an Audio Engineering Society Fellowship Award. He is survived by his wife of nearly 70 years, Evelyn; five children, Mary, David, John, Stephen, and Ann; nine grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

InfoComm 2021 Moves to October

infocomm 2021Orlando, FL (February 12, 2021)—AVIXA has announced it is moving InfoComm 2021 to Oct. 23–29, to be held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL. The annual trade show as originally slated to take place at the same location on June 12–18.

In a statement, Dave Labuskes, AVIXA’s CEO, noted, “AVIXA has continued to monitor the vaccine rollout, economic indicators, travel restrictions, and the show community to better gauge overall trends and future conditions for holding a major event in the U.S. in June of 2021. With a holistic perspective of all factors in North America, AVIXA is announcing the move of InfoComm 2021….

“In January, after receiving an opportunity to explore new dates, we gathered key stakeholder feedback and industry opinion, where we received overwhelming support for a postponement. As excited as the community is about the show, and as hopeful and optimistic as we remain in combatting the pandemic, it is believed that the U.S. will be further along in the battle against the pandemic by October than in June.

…Since the early months of this global crisis, we have done our best to prioritize the long-term interests of our AVIXA members and InfoComm community across the pro AV industry. We have not made this decision to postpone lightly and have relied on a great deal of feedback from the InfoComm show community, and we are grateful to you for engaging with us and supporting this decision.”

InfoComm 2021 • www.infocommshow.org

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Shure Petitions FCC for Dedicated Wireless Mic Channel

FCCChicago, IL (February 4, 2021)—In recent years, RF audio pros have faced increasing difficulties as the amount of usable spectrum available to wireless microphones has steadily vanished—first in 2010 as the FCC bumped pro audio out of the 700 MHz band (roughly 698-806 MHz) requisitioning that range for the use of public safety, and then again in 2017, as it auctioned off most of the 600 MHz service band (617-652 MHz and 663-698 MHz). While the FCC some conciliatory stabs at ensuring space for wireless audio gear were made at the time, those rulings recently fell by the wayside, and now wireless mic manufacturer Shure has petitioned the FCC to reverse its recent decision and ensure that at least one “vacant” 6 MHz UHF channel is designated in each market for wireless microphone use.

The petition comes just weeks after longtime FCC Chairman Ajit Pai stepped down on January 20 as President Biden was inaugurated (Jessica Rosenworcel has since been appointed acting FCC chair). Pai’s occasionally contentious stint atop the FCC began in 2012; among the last events taking place under his stewardship, in early December, 2020, the FCC terminated the “Vacant Channels” rulemaking that was opened during the 600 MHz incentive auction and declined to authorize a dedicated UHF TV channel for wireless microphone use. Shure disagrees with the FCC conclusions and rationale for terminating the proceeding and has asked the Commission to reverse the decision.

Shure’s petition argues the wireless microphone community needs clear spectrum now more than ever, as the 600 MHz band has been reallocated to mobile phone use and the DTV repack has moved many TV stations into the 500 MHz spectrum. At the same time, broadcast, performance and sporting productions continue to demand more channels of wireless microphones than ever before.

According to Shure, the “alternative” frequencies identified by the FCC in 2017 for wireless microphone use at 900 MHz, 1.4 GHz, and 7 GHz fall short of addressing the needs of wireless microphone users, as they are less flexible than UHF frequencies. Because these bands are occupied by licensed users in other industries, access to these bands for wireless microphone use is conditioned on sharing requests, which can be lengthy and ultimately denied.

The company noted that ensuring the presence of at least one dedicated channel in a market is important to meet demand for wireless microphone use, and that channel would also be important for applications that include intercom, IFB and others.

“The amount of available UHF spectrum for wireless microphone use continues to shrink,” said Ahren Hartman, vice president, Corporate Quality, Shure. “With the loss of 700 MHz, 600 MHz, and the DTV repack into 500 MHz, we are at an all-time low for access to UHF spectrum. However, the need for open and clear wireless microphone spectrum is higher than ever before.”

The petition marks one of Shure’s first forays back into lobbying following the unexpected death last October of longtime Shure executive Mark Brunner, VP of Global Corporate & Government Relations. Brunner previously led the company’s lobbying efforts in Washington D.C. to promote industry interests in wireless device regulation, frequency spectrum allocation and more.

Shure • www.shure.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Ortofon Teams With Phonocut for Vinyl Recorder

Phonocut's vinyl recorder.
Phonocut’s vinyl recorder.

Vienna, Austria (February 3, 2021) — Phonograph cartridge manufacturer Ortofon has teamed with startup Phonocut in the continuing development and production of a push-button, home vinyl recorder.

Originating as a 2019 Kickstarter campaign, the long-gestating Phonocut recorder aims to allow non-technical users to cut 10” vinyl records with the same amount of effort as a typical cassette recorder—users will place a custom blank lacquer on the cutter, connecting a source, and press ‘start.’ Each disc is expected to hold up to 9 minutes of audio. The first generation Phonocut recorder is expected to ship this year.

The Unlikely Return of Quadraphonic Vinyl

Almost 40 years after the introduction of its last stereo cutting head in 1982, Ortofon will now collaborate on the project. Ortofon’s chief officer of Acoustics and Research, Leif Johannsen, will join the international development team to contribute his and Ortofon’s applicable knowledge in high-end audio hardware development, production and quality control.

“This is a new segment for vinyl music and we support the development of this new technology with our experience and know-how. I am impressed by the quality and sound of Phonocut vinyl recorders and I see a big potential for the future.” said Johannsen.

In celebration of this partnership, Phonocut co-creator KamranV says “For Ortofon to join our effort, it humbly validates our work and paves a path for new possibilities.  We consider Ortofon to be the best partner for our vinyl revolution.”

Ortofon • www.ortofon.com

Phonocut  • www.phonocut.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Bryston Acquired by Management, Colquhoun Audio

James Tanner is now CEO of Bryston.
James Tanner is now CEO of Bryston.

Peterborough, Ontario, Canada (February 3, 2021)—Audio electronics and loudspeaker manufacturer Bryston has been acquired by VP James Tanner in partnership with Colquhoun Audio, a manufacturer of premium audio products based in Canada. With the acquisition, Tanner has become the company’s CEO.

Tanner, who joined the company in 1976, noted that his first priority going forward is to strengthen relationships with the dealer community by adding new services, including an online portal for order processing; web-to-dealer referral service; expanded sales team; customer service hotline to provide real time support to dealers and consumers; expanded and modernized R&D and manufacturing at Bryston; and keeping the company based in Canada. Former CEO Chris Russell is retiring, but will remain active as a consultant with the company founded by his family decades ago.

“There are very few high-performance audio brands that offer the 40-plus year legacy of best-in-class products and award-winning services that Bryston does—and we are committed to providing our worldwide network of dealers with the tools they need to be even more successful,” Tanner said. “I am very excited about the next generation of products, beginning with the new BR-20 preamplifier scheduled to start shipping this month, as well as several stellar designs currently in development.”

Bryston • www.bryston.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Pro Audio & Radio Tech Summit Announced

Pro Audio & Radio Tech SummitNew York, NY (February 3, 2021)—This spring may not have all the usual trade shows and conferences in-person, but professionals across the pro audio and radio industries will gather together in April, as Pro Sound News, Mix and Radio World join forces to hold the first Pro Audio & Radio Tech Summit, an all-day virtual event to be held April 1.

“With the ‘return to normal’ now on the horizon, we have to start exploring how the massive changes we’ve made in pro audio over the last year will be incorporated into our ‘normal’ work going forward,” said Clive Young, editor of Pro Sound News. “The pandemic upended every aspect of how audio professionals work, but the industry rose to the challenge, changing established ways to fit the times while also creating new methods, workflows and tools to keep things moving forward. Our Summit, then, will draw insights from those trends and achievements, and look at how they can become crucial ingredients for continued success in the future.”

The free one-day event will feature an exhibition floor, panel presentations, chat rooms and a host of media presentations showcasing the latest technologies and trends in radio and pro audio. Pro Audio & Radio Tech Summit will feature two individual program tracks within a single exhibition hall. In each program track, industry experts will explore how manufacturers and users are making use of both current and emerging technologies in order to keep the media coming.

The Pro Audio Track will feature sessions on Remote Production, the multipurpose House of Worship studio, the rise of Immersive Music, Audio Networking technologies, and Improved Audio for Education. Through expert panel presentations, sponsor demos and attendee networking, Pro Sound News and Mix bring manufacturers, engineers, producers, musicians, educators and industry experts together to look at the state of music production as we come out of the most disruptive year in memory.

The Radio Track will feature sessions on hybrid radio, AoIP, virtualization, streaming, business continuity and trends in transmission. These topics will be of interest to any radio broadcast manager or engineer who manages technology or uses it to advance their careers and business missions.

For registration information, CLICK HERE.

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Jonathan Wyner Begins Term as AES President

Jonathan Wyner
Jonathan Wyner

New York, NY (January 29, 2021)—Jonathan Wyner, whose experience includes 30-plus years as both an active AES member and as an audio technologist, started his term as president of the Audio Engineering Society on January 1, 2021.

Wyner’s professional industry involvement currently includes his roles as chief engineer at M Works Mastering, education director for iZotope in Cambridge, MA, and professor at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. His longstanding commitment to the AES has been demonstrated by his multiple roles in the society, including serving on the Board of Directors, the Board of Governors, and as a member of multiple committees including Broadcast and Online Delivery and the Recording Technology and Practices Technical Committee and the Diversity & Inclusion committees.

“Jonathan Wyner has proven his leadership and vision during his year on the AES Board of Directors as president-elect,” comments outgoing AES president Agnieszka Roginska. “The AES is in excellent hands for the coming year.”

AES Show A Hit, Will Visit Vegas in 2021

Wyner chaired a Symposium focused on Machine Learning Application in Audio during the fall of 2020. He was presented with AES Board of Governors Awards in recognition of co-chairing the 145th and 147th AES Conventions in New York in 2018 and 2019 and the online 149th AES Convention in 2020.

“The AES is the most varied international assemblage of experts, thought leaders, researchers, manufacturers and practitioners of audio in the world,” states Wyner. “During our recent fall event we had attendees from 82 countries. Each of us has our individual interests and goals for our work, but a passion for audio ties us together. There are so many interesting and exciting developments taking place in the world of audio. The pillars I am energized to stand up can be summed up in three words: Equity, Sustainability and Innovation.”

Wyner, in addition to being an accomplished musician and performer, has mastered and produced thousands of recordings. His credits include James Taylor, David Bowie, Aerosmith, Kiri Te Kanawa, the London Symphony, Miles Davis, Semisonic, Thelonius Monk, Pink Floyd and Nirvana. Additional accolades include production of the GRAMMY-nominated soundtrack for PBS special Invention and Alchemy (Deborah Henson-Conant, 2005), the mastering of the first recording of a full-length opera (Madame Butterfly 1912, BBC), and the first interactive CD game (Play it By Ear, Rykodisc).

In 2012 Wyner authored Audio Mastering: Essential Practices, published by Hal Leonard/Berklee Press, and has also authored undergraduate and graduate course materials for Berklee Music Online. Wyner is the recipient of a TEC award, presented for iZotope’s Pro Audio Essentials game-based platform developed to help music producers practice and improve their audio skills.

Audio Engineering Society • www.aes.org

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com