Audiovox to buy Klipsch
Klipsch, America's oldest speaker manufacturer, is about to be acquired by Audiovox. Is that good or bad news?
The buzz in certain corners of the high-end audio community at this year's CES was that Audiovox was going to acquire Klipsch, and Klipsch's other speaker brands, including Jamo, Mirage, Energy, and Athena. The January 6 press release sounds like it was written by lawyers:
Audiovox Corporation announced today that it has recently signed a non-binding term sheet to purchase all of the shares of Klipsch Group Inc. and its worldwide subsidiaries ("Klipsch"). Klipsch is a leading, global provider of premium, high performance speakers sold through retail and installation channels. The transaction is subject to a number of contingencies, including satisfactory completion of due diligence, negotiation and signing of definitive agreements and requisite approvals. [...] The company markets products under the Audiovox, RCA, Jensen, Acoustic Research, Energizer, Advent, Code Alarm, TERK, Prestige and SURFACE brands.
I was taken by surprise by the announcement. I've long admired Klipsch, and when I visited the factory in 2006 to write an article about the company's 60th anniversary for Home Theater magazine I came away impressed by the dedication of Klipsch's designers and its long history.
Paul Klipsch founded his company in 1946 when high fidelity was a strictly monophonic pursuit, and over the decades the brand successfully transitioned to stereo, home theater, pro audio/cinema, custom installation, iPod speakers, and headphones.
In a marketing-driven industry that churns through technological trends every couple of years, the longevity of some Klipsch designs may have been the company's most remarkable achievement. Take the original Klipsch speaker, the Klipschorn: it has remained in the line since Day One. There have been hundreds of incremental design improvements to the Klipschorn over the years, but the fundamentals are unchanged. There are four classic models in the Heritage line, the Klipschorn ($3,999 each), La Scala II ($2,999 each), Cornwall $1,875 each), and Heresy III ($799 each).
Of course the bulk of Klipsch speakers are less expensive, including my favorite, the RB-81 II bookshelf speaker ($798 per pair), and the five-piece Quintet Home Theater System ($549) is also stellar.
I just hope Audiovox lets Klipsch stay true to its roots. We'll see.