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LG reinvents itself as audio brand

LG is taking on the big boys of hi-fi with a new range of "luxury audio" products designed by a respected audio engineer.

LG is planning to take on Marantz and Yamaha in the "luxury audio" market with a new system designed by audio engineer Mark Levinson.

"Golden Ears" Mark Levinson.

LG has relaunched its existing range of televisions and AV peripherals in Singapore this week, with an emphasis on providing audiophile quality on a budget, with Levinson as the focus of the "Golden Ears" campaign.

"If all goes well we will see some new products coming that I think are probably the best of my career", Levinson said. "But the new series — nothing's announced yet — but the idea is to create a luxury series combining everything I know with all the resources and power of LG".

"The prototypes are just awesome. That's really fun, it's a fun system. I can't talk about it right now but that's just so much fun you can't stop playing with it. It's not only a toy, it's something you could use in a recording studio or master lab", he said.

All but one of the products on display at the launch have already been released in Australia, and unfortunately the only new product on show — the LG LG80 home theatre TV — won't be available here.

LG tried to enter the separates market late last year with the AU$699 AR702 AV receiver, but this has since been discontinued. In the words of one LG product manager: "It failed".

The company is obviously hoping that attaching the name of a respected engineer to their range will help lift the company's AV profile.

Mark Levinson worked on the design of the FB163 mini system.

Levinson himself appears pleased with the relationship he has in tuning and designing systems for the Korean company, and was particularly excited about working on the AU$399 FB163 mini system, which he thought LG should "double the price" on.

"It's small and it's simple and it sounds good and it doesn't cost anything — it's very useful and flexible, and gives a lot of pleasure", Levinson said.

Levinson said that he has had a lot of freedom at the company, and feels they share common goals. "It's an old tradition, whether it's musical instruments or furniture or watches or cameras. It's a tradition of making a product to a standard not a price, and working with people who share that passion is very enjoyable", he said.

Levinson began his career by designing the mixing desk for the original Woodstock festival, and formed a hi-fi company under his own name in 1972. He sold the company in the 80's but Mark Levinson continues today as a Harman International brand.

Levinson also works as a recording engineer, musician, and is the author of a self-help book with his ex-wife Kim Cattrell of Sex and the City fame.

Ty Pendlebury travelled to Singapore as a guest of LG.