The Hub: news, gossip - The more things change ...

Is it possible that there's only a certain number of companies that can survive in the audio biz, and beyond that number, pfffftt? Sometimes it seems that way. New companies appear, and at about the same time, old ones go away ... or at least change.

B&K Components, a staple of the audio industry for nearly 30 years, was reportedly taken over by a bank on September 17th. Details are difficult to come by (as they often are when something happens to a privately-held company), and there doesn't appear to be anyone answering the phones at this point. Whether this means that the company is closed, or just at a stop along the reorganization path, remains to be seen. We'll provide updates as soon as we know more.

Companies like B&K which are (or were) heavily involved in home theater have had some difficult times since the collapse of the mortgage and housing markets. Why, you ask? Simple: in the flush times of easy credit and ballooning equity, those custom jobs could be rolled into a HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit). When ready credit dried up due to the loss in equity for many home-owners, there went the ability to finance those HT jobs--and there went a lot of the sales of new gear.

Another company in a situation similar to that of B&K is Sunfire, best-known as the third company founded by Bob Carver (after Phase Linear and Carver Corporation). Sunfire is primarily a maker of home theater products, and Bob sold the company to conglomerate Nortek in 2005, shortly before the bubble burst.

Based in Providence, R.I., Nortek holds several dozen manufacturing companies which make products for the home, including HVAC systems, home automation and audio. Amongst audio brands, Nortek also owns Niles Audio and SpeakerCraft.
Nortek entered into and emerged from a "prepackaged" Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009, and earlier this year announced consolidation of its audio brands under the leadership of an ex-Harman exec.

Bob Carver tells us that it appears Sunfire production will be moved from Lexington, KY to Carlsbad, CA, and also mentions that he will no longer be involved in guiding design and development of new products. "My last day will be November 12th," he said from his home in Washington. We will be hearing more from Bob in months to come.

Following in Bob's footsteps, serial entrepreneur Sandy Gross is taking a crack at his third company with Golden Ear Technology. Sandy had previously been involved in the creation and management of Polk and Definitive Technologies, and had stayed at DefTech for 6 years after selling the company.

The Golden Ear top-of-the-line Triton Two Tower may evoke memories of the Def Tech Mythos series: a slender four-foot tower with built-in powered sub, but utilizing a Heil-derivative tweeter. Initial reports from their debut at CEDIA were positive. Given Sandy's track record, expect these to play well beyond their upper-mid-fi price of $2500/pair.

One of last year's most disturbing stories was the ousting of Dan D'Agostino and his family from the company Dan founded, Krell Industries. What really happened may never be known, except perhaps by those directly involved.

Not surprisingly, Dan D'Agostino is back with a new company, Dan D'Agostino Inc. First product is (also not surprisingly) a monobloc amplifier, the Momentum. Compared to some Krell monsters, the Momentum looks almost delicate, due to a highly-efficient copper heatsink. Despite its refined appearance, the amp is a typical D'Agostino beast, delivering 300 watts into an 8 ohm load, 600 watts into 4 ohms, and 1,200 watts into 2 ohms. For those fond of the Krell style of massive architectural angularity, the Momentum's pinkish copper trim and subdued lines (both reminiscent of an old watch) may take some getting used to.

We wish all these companies the bast of luck as each works to find its niche in the marketplace. The decades of experience these companies represent are surely a heritage worth preserving.
As my dear friend and fellow Texan, Linda Ellerbee closed her broadcast with " And So It Goes"
I wish I could say that surprises me - but it doesn't. Long ago B&K set things in motion that I felt at the time would lead to their demise and thats a shame. The early gear they produced was very good entry level high end, if such a term can be used. Nonetheless B&K offered stellar products that entice first time buyers, but from there they lacked the push to keep customers, from making the leap to Threshold, Levinson, Krell and Spectral. If they had products in the catalog that competed with the big four, they would have kept their customer and consumer base, instead of losing them to other marques. Plus like so many other they jumped on the HT bandwagon and in my opinion abandon the serious stereo customer. Most likely now will end up being only a shell of what was once a fine audio company. We will most likely see more of this in the near term.
Ferrari, my sentiments exactly. Though I think they were knocking on the doors of the elite high end ss camp with the M200's. IMHO, While the ST140 might have been the product that launched them, the M200's represented the peak of the B&K span.