REL is dead. Long live REL

Hi Guys,

REL Acoustics has been sold to Sumiko!!!

Per a recent press release:

It’s all change for REL. The UK ’s best known subwoofer brand has changed hands, having been bought out by its US distributors, Sumiko.

Richard Edmund Lord, the mastermind behind all the company’s previous award winning products, and affectionately known as The Lord of Bass, is no longer involved.

Rising from the ashes of REL is an entirely new company, REL Acoustics.
Its upcoming 'R' series subwoofers have been conceived by Sumiko and will be built in China . Further distancing themselves from previous REL products, they will utilize digital amplification.
Interesting. Should keep them competitive on price. Digital amplification seems a no-brainer for subs.
So it will be like buying a RCA, Quasar, Sylvania or GE Television. Just a mass produced clone dressed up to look like the original on the outside.
What a shame Rel is no more.

I love the sound and build quality of my Rel Stentor III subwoffer.

It sounds like the new Rel is going for price and market share with cheaper products. This makes it all the more likely I will not depart with my Stentor III anytime in the future since really supurb products in the audio world are getting to be a rare breed.

Mr. Lord really cared about producing a quality woofer and his engineering expertise will be missed in the market place.

Me too Drubin--that's a great group of very audio savy people out there. They are smart, good businessmen and honest to boot. Bill Pugh (haven't talked to him in some time) has been a friend, colleague and good for the audio industry--expect great things.

I wish them well and expect that the company will flourish under their leadership.

Sumiko's integrity is not at issue. It is a simple case of marketing. They bought REL and are now starting to sell subwoofers that Richard Lord had nothing to do with. Those who were fans of Mr. Lord are not likely to buy a new model just because of the lettering on the case.

Why not call them Sumiko subwoofers? Because the REL name sells.

They basically bought a brand name as market tool. The same as my TV example. At one time a lot of older American's would not buy a Japanese or Korean TV. They wanted the same brand like Zenith, etc, they always bought. So the asian companies bought up the American names and put those names on their sets. It worked like a charm.

No sooner did Mark Levinson sell out to Harmon International and Mark Levinson branded car stereo suddenly appeared in Lexus automobiles. Probably just a Harmon Kardon car stereo with a fancy name to fit the Lexus high class image.
I agree with Sugarbrie. Sounds like Mr Lord needed to retire for a second time and Sumiko bought the rights to the name.

Made in China does not mean for one minute that they will be a low quality product. However, it does mean that the importer will likely be cashing in even more (Sumiko marked up the price of REL pretty steeply even before), and the consumer is unlikely to see any of the production savings. I'd rather pay my money to people building products, rather than import/export empires. Buying factory direct from China may be worthwhile, but lining the pockets of a US importer is not, in my opinion.

There's always MJ acoustics for anyone wanting a British Made sub (I think they used to manufacture REL).
I don't mean to say there is anything wrong with it per se. Sumiko has a fine reputation. No one would accuse Panasonic of making junk. But all the same, they were the biggest buyer of US nameplates for re-branding (Quasar and Magnavox just to name two). Hitachi bought a few names also.

Julian Richer bought Cambridge Audio and moved production to China. It is still really good gear for the price. Same for Audio Refinement, which is YBA designed gear but made in China. I am sure the quality of those subwoofers will be good. But if Sumiko designed it, then it is not a real REL.

A couple of the Project and Music Hall turntables are the same turntable out of the same factory in eastern europe, with just a few minor changes. Check out the Project Debut and the Music Hall MMF-2. The Project US distributor is also Sumiko BTW
Sumiko could just have easily spec'd out a subwoofer for Chinese manufacture and sold it under their own name, but they've spent the last decade building up the REL brand in the States. Does it really make sense to write-off that effort and start over? Buying out REL seems like a very sound business move. I own two REL Stadium 3s and have nothing but positive things to say about Sumiko and its network of dealers. The REL brand could not have landed in better hands.
I recently spoke to Sumiko about the Britannia series and they stated that they were designed and built by Rel. The reason he gave for not importing Strata 5 and Storm 5 was that they believed that the remote feature diminished the sound and that the Britannia build was better at fast,articulate upper base He stated that the B1 would "wipe the floor with the Stadium 3". He did state that the Stentor 3 in some respects was still better. This might all just be marketing crap but I thought I'd share it with you. - Jim
Sugarbrie, having said that I agree with you in my previous post, I think the fact that Sumiko has bought a brand name and feels that this will sell is a sad reflection of our society (where "brand recognition" has become more important than substance), rather than any negative reflection on REL or Sumiko.

I gather Mr Lord simply wanted to retire, and Sumiko want to continue to offer "REL" subwoofers.
I'd just like to report that the rumors of my death, if not greatly exaggerated, are at the very least, mostly untrue.

And while Richard Edmund Lord's claim to the initials REL likely predates mine by quite a few years, I still lurk proudly here on the 'Gon, posting now and again as time allows and the spirit moves me (although the moderators have seen fit not to post my last three entirely innocuous submissions for some reason).

And for those of you who might be curious--no, my (primarily non-audiophile) friends do not refer to me as the "Sub-Dude"!
a sad reflection of our society (where "brand recognition" has become more important than substance)
What a strange, naive comment. Do you imagine yourself "immune" to brands?

Think about the investment Sumiko has made in building the REL brand in the US. Think about how strong that brand is and how much "substance" audiophiles associate with it.
Good Riddance! IMHO Rel subs are the most overhyped, over priced piece of audio gear on the planet! Because of the sheepish nature of so called "audiophiles" REL has achieved legendary status. Of course REL sold out. $$$ What did you expect from a legendary fascist like "Sir" Richard Edmund Lord? How many people know that REL got their start designing sound weapons for her majesty's secret service? The same sound weapons used on American citizens who protest the WTO, world government, and the destruction of national soviernty.
Drubin .... I don't think I'm being naive. There has been a steady move towards brand recognition ABOVE ALL ELSE. Of course a quality brand will develop a following over time. But if that brand becomes simply a name, completely divorced from what created the original brand name recognition, then that is where I see a problem. Perhaos that will not happen with REL, but there is a danger that is exactly what will happen.
You are correct, that could happen. Look at Marantz, for example (though there has been some improvement in the past few years). So this is where the integrity and goals of Sumiko come into play.
Justmy two cents.---Firstly I have owned many Sumiko products over the years,and all have been fine products.I cannot see them suddenly lowering the apparent cache of REL.It just makes no sense.
More importantly,to me,I own a REL Stentor series two,which is doing exactly what I had hoped it would,when considering the purchase.In the owners manual there is a paragraph describing long term maintenance,and lenghth of design integrity.It states "don't worry about aging of sub,as it will most likely outlive it's original owner".Well,as I'm considered middle aged,I really have NO concern as to the Sumiko takeover!Unless my multi vitamins are really doing I hope they do!!

PS--to those thinking these are overpriced.Take a look at the rediculous pricing on the "industry darling" Kharma sub,and some other cache types.I paid 3200 bucks for my Stentor,new(admittedly not cheap),to mate with my Avalon Ascents.They are a superb match,allowing me to keep all the wonderful advantages of this sealed design,while allowing for a truly perfect blend,with real depth,and clout.I have never felt the desire to upgrade from this fabulous combo(and I am a bit of a fanatic),so instead of the common buy,and sell syndrome I have saved money.I'm sure other designs are superb too,but I have no regrets regarding my purchase.

Best to all!
Terrat - Nice hearing from you but I have to catch that last shuttle back to Earth.
Tomryan, Maybe you're right. Ignorance is bliss! Best stick to audio chat.
Terrat: Chill, dude! I don't support the WTO either, but REL's success is not due to the sheepish (I like to say "just more intelligent than the average citizen") nature of audiophiles. It IS due to the fact that they make KILLER subs.
I'm sorry, Terrat, I don't quite see the connection here. I read the articles that you cited and here's what I found.

In 2003, Richard E. Lord was part of a controlled experiment that tested infra-sonic frequencies piped through a 23ft long tube on volunteers to ascertain the effect it had.

In a separate article, on a different website, it was revealed that the government is working on Ultrasonic frequencies to disable people.

In your third link, there's an ominous looking picture of a flat panel Sound Cannon.

After reading all of these articles, I fail to see how you could assert that REL makes weaponry, based on the evidence you provided.

1) The article on Mr. Lord states the British experiment was researching the effect of infrasonic frequencies (Ultra-low frequencies) on the human body. According to the other article you provided, the weaponry used by the military is all in the Gigahertz range or laser-based, i.e. high frequencies.

2) The reactions observed in the British Experiment were "anxiety, extreme sorrow and chills." The effects of the military's experiments, cited in the 2nd article and those linked to it were that the devices were used to induce confusion, pain and temporary paralysis.

3) The Sound Cannon appears to be flat, fairly thin and about 4 feet wide. The infrasonic waves that Mr. Lord was generating required a 7m long pipe to generate. Although ultra-low frequencies demand high power, high excursion and enormous surface area to generate, high frequencies can be generated with almost negligible motion and little power.

As a side note, this is why many Electrostatic panels and Planar Magnetic speakers are accused of not generating enough bass energy. Most simply don't have enough radiating surface area to move the air required to generate the lowest frequencies. The ones that do, like the enormous Soundlabs et al. are so big they take up an entire room.

4) Although it's possible that a device might generate infrasonic waves without having to move a ton of air, I bet every audiophile on the planet would be excited to find a subwoofer that was only a few inches thick that could generate infrasonic frequencies!

I think Terrat, you may be barking up the wrong tree here. Not only are the frequencies in each article at polar opposites of the sonic spectrum, but the reactions observed and their uses are vastly different. Although I can appreciate that making a crowd of volunteers really sad might appear sinister to some, I'm not sure any military power on the planet would be much interested in merely depressing their target. I would think any military worth their salt would be much more interested in using microwaves to instantly heat up the water stored 1/64th of an inch under the skin, instantly crippling the target or using ultrasonic waves to disrupt the sensory system or create intense pain without tissue damage. Both of these results are cited or linked from the 2nd article.
jdog428, Thanks for taking the time & having an open mind towards such "unearthly" discussions. I think you missed my point. I was not trying to draw any direct correlation with the links I posted. I was merely trying to point out that sound can indeed be used as a weapon. Probably not the best examples in the links I posted, but I hope it at least sparks some curiosity, lively discussion, and a lot of google searches.
Terrat, I don't think I missed your point. You made it quite clearly. "What did you expect from a legendary fascist like "Sir" Richard Edmund Lord? How many people know that REL got their start designing sound weapons for her majesty's secret service? The same sound weapons used on American citizens who protest the WTO, world government, and the destruction of national soviernty."

So far you have not proven or even provided evidence that Mr. Lord is a fascist, or that REL ever manufactured weaponry, or the parallels between RELs research and that used in sound weapons. All you have proven is that you can jump to an ill-informed conclusion and that I have wasted my time responding to your post or even acknowledging your existence.
Thanks for the warning Jdog.

Hmmm... not designed by REL, not built by REL, not voiced by REL, doesn't use a REL amplifier... let's call it a REL!

Sumiko is a fine company but their new sub should stand on it's own two feet (or maybe four feet?) and not leverage off another company's past reputation.
Somebody needs a little more oxygen in their diet. Helps clear the cobwebs so hysteria doesn't creep in so easily.
After visiting the above links, I saw the pictures of the weapons being pointed at the WTO protesters. I thought that the cabinetry was rather plain and the setup, with the unit right out in the middle of the street on top of a vehicle, certainly would run counter to the manufacturer's recommended placement in a room corner. Also, there was no mention in the caption about where the crossover point was set. Clearly not a high fidelity scenario.
Terrat: Dude, you're confusing Dr Richard Lord with Mr Richard Lord... Ignorance is bliss, indeed!
It's a small world:

Dr. Lord's work on "Soundless Music" looks interesting:
I've heard the new Rels quite extensively namely the B1, and the new Rel 205. I own the strata 5 , Q150e and the Q400E.

The new Rel 205 is gorgeous and out of the box, it has the Rel sound that is common to the Rels i owned. After a few weeks break in, I must admit, they sound better and integrates better than my Q150E.

The B1 which I briefly auditioned and loaned from my dealer is just AWESOME!!!!!! Wow, its a bigger 400E on stereods. the bass is just tight, deep and it disappears at the back of the speakers! Its magical. No way boomy or overpowering!! Nope! It seamlessly blends with the speakers.
I'm now in the process of selling my 400E and trading up for the B1. Incredible sub.

I cannot even tell the R series is made in China. The driver looks the same to my Q150E drivers. The box is just drop dead gorgeous. It cabinet is solid and the amp is dead quite. I would like to try the bigger R505 which they claim is better than the Q series even the 400e.

Anyhow, I've own rels for years now and I believe they are very good subs. Yes, they are expensive but truly worth every penny. I use my Rels for home theater and 2 channel set-up. Have yet to be disappointed. Sorry for those who feels differently. To each his own and YMMV.
For those of you who have heard the new rels like the R series or the britania, How would you say they compare to the strata or other ST line? Has anyone compared the Rel's, new or old, to the M&k line or MJ acoustics? I am looking to spend aroun 1000-1500 and want a sub to fill the very bottom in for me. Primary use is 2 channel, but I want some grunt for HT use also. Shouls I get a strata and forget it, or Look elsewhere?
TAS magazine gave the Rel Britannia B3, subwoofer of the year 2006! And I agree. I own one and its great! Upgrade the Neutrik connector to a Signal Cable or even better Synergistic Research.
Suplerfly, I own a REL strata 3. It sounds pretty good to me, but I've not compared it directly with any other sub.

However, many people on a UK hifi board I visit seem to like the Velodyne DD series subs with the built in equalization, and feel they are superior to REL (even taking into account they cost 2 to 3 times as much in the UK).

You might look at a used Velodyne DD here on audiogon: I think they start around the top end of your price (used, that is).
Hi Superfly676,

Owning both REL's (an R205 and R305) and Velodynes (2* SPL1000R), I offer my .02 cents for a point of reference . . .

I am running two the Velos in my living room where they are doing double duty as in 5.2 HT and 2.2 two channel guise. No complaints whatsoever and, frankly speaking, with my (nearly) full range tower FocusAudio FS-888's going down to a solid 30 Hz, they don't really need much help. However, in my home office two channel system, the importance of the a sub's musical performance was the priority.

Before buying the REL's, and already having the 2 Velo's, my first instinct was to go with a Velo DD. To my ears and it didn't sound that much different than the my SPLR's. That is not a bad thing as I love the Velo's. After hearing quite a few other brands, and hearing so much about the MJ's and REL's 2 channel leaning sound, I thought that it best to give them a listen.

Actually, only in the market for a single sub for my home office system, I very much wanted to go with the MJ given their reputation and very appealing aesthetics that match the decor in the room. What I found was that, while the MJ's sounded nice and tight and build quality top notch, ultimately, I found the new REL's to be tighter and faster - among the best bass I've heard. Long story short, I ultimately chose REL despite it being more expensive than the MJ and comparable Velo and even picked up a second one for my work office system.

No doubt that you can't really go wrong with either as your choice will ultimately come down to personal taste.

Speaking to the original subject of the post . . . the build quality is superb. Looking at both the old and new RELs along side each other, IMO, while the R series is a more modern look, quality is in no way compromised. Quite refreshingly, the real world performance matchs everything I'd heard in print and on the web.
Some personal advice on rel subwoofers .i have owned a storm 3, 4 X r505 and a studio 3 . All ok if music is not your thing . The only sub that will integrate seamlessly is a wilson benesch torus period . The rel 25 at £6500 is a joke a big one . 
Good job bumping a 10+ year old post to advertise.  Now everyone will think REL is closing down after reading the topic too.  

Good work.

I must confess that I missed this thread as well. I discovered REL back around 2006/07 and was really impressed with the sound. Since then, I have heard many, many systems that feature a REL subwoofer and it never disappoints.

Happy Listening!

Update on my 10 year old REL B3....
seeing this 12 year old thread reminded me to dust/polish the cherry finish. I think this is the LAST British  R..E...L, before the company is known as "REL"