Leon Speakers Gets Serious with Brand New LX Line, But Surprises with ‘Classic’
Already revered for its custom-made loudspeakers, Leon ‘completely redesigns’ product line and factory; launches new LX series for luxury, ‘Classic’ for everyone else at CEDIA Expo 2014.
Leon Speakers, known for its one-off customized loudspeakers, has “completely redesigned” its … everything.
That includes its flagship line of custom speakers, as well as the Ann Arbor, Mich., factory where they’re built. Leon also has disrupted a 19-year legacy of custom-building every loudspeaker it sells.
At CEDIA Expo 2014, Leon will unveil the fruits of the last 12 months, during which “Leon’s audio engineers, product designers, production managers and their sales/marketing department converged to explore a refresh of their entire product line.”
That’s how Leon president, artist and thinker Noah Kaplan talks.
In reinventing everything, he tells me, “I drew for three months. I sat down and tried to create a visual language that would deliver continuity. ... The important thing was to focus in on the details.”
In the end, he says, quoting designer Charles Eames, “The details are not the details. They make the design.”
The design, in this case, starts with the LX (“Luxury Experience”) collection of speakers, which replaces many of Leon’s current offerings. The new products are both slimmer and easier to install, according to the company.
Leon slenderized the current speakers through improvements to their bracketry and cabinet design, resulting in products that are about 25 percent slimmer when installed.
Also, Leon restyled the design of the speaker cabinets and “incorporated new materials to meet their sonic signature.”
At CEDIA, you’ll have to hear for yourself how Leon “increased the audio performance of every channel in every cabinet across their entire Horizon, Profile and Detail Series of handcrafted speakers,” as they say in their press release.
For good measure, Leon brought in all new Audio Precision audio testing gear to refine performance and in-line quality control on the production floor, Kaplan says.
The finishing is world-class, too, including four-ply black Italian silk used for Leon’s reference-grade speakers, Kaplan says: “We sourced luxury materials for a luxury brand.”
One of the luxury materials used in the LX speakers is fine Horween leather, used for wire ties on the back of the speaker. Leon took great care in wire management, relocating terminal cups and routing all cables to the center of the speaker.
“Dealers take pride in how their wires look in a rack,” Kaplan says. “We wanted our own standard for speakers.”
The “continuity of design” extends to Leon’s Media Decor line of motorized art for concealing TVs and other unsightly gear. Leon will have a little surprise lurking behind one of its Media Decor pieces at CEDIA.
Like Media Decor systems, “we’re really seeing speakers as a treatment,” Kaplan says. “LX really embraces the Media Decor experience.”
Leon Goes Un-Custom
In a departure from its built-to-order tradition, Leon is announcing at CEDIA the new Classic line of off-the-shelf speakers at competitive prices we haven’t seen before from Leon.
But true to its heritage, Leon is making the Classic speakers, just like the LX models, in its Ann Arbor facility.
Each speaker features 3-inch woofers and 1-inch cloth-dome tweeters in a cabinet less than 3 inches deep.
The Horizon Classic series includes fixed-width LCR soundbars in two different sizes to accommodate TVs between 40 to 70 inches wide, starting at $995 MSRP.
For those that prefer more separation or discrete channels, the Profile Classic also is available in two sizes for mounting vertically on either side of the display or horizontally below the TV as a center channel.
The Profile Classic starts at $595 MSRP per channel.
Finally, the Detail Classic features a sonically-matched on-wall surround speaker that can round out a 5-channel system in any room, starting at $395 MSRP per channel.
All of the Classic Series speakers ship in one to two days and include mounting brackets to mount the speakers directly to the wall.
True to Leon form, even the Classic speakers have personality, “right down to the packaging,” according to Kaplan.
Taking a cue from Cracker Jacks, Leon includes a surprise in every box.
Behind the Scenes
To accomplish the product refreshes, Leon founder and president Noah Kaplan “charged his team to look closely at every aspect of each product with a keen eye towards the installer, the designer and the end user experience,” the company says.
“We were looking to both increase capacity to meet rising global demand and to create a completely coherent design language and audio platform across all of our products,” says Kaplan. Today, we’ve completely overhauled our manufacturing facility, increasing throughput and investing in state-of-the-art machinery.”
Leon invested in several large-format CNC (computer numerically controlled) machines. Leaders from Leon’s fabrication and production teams were sent to lean manufacturing training and certification. And the company shifted away from batch manufacturing.
In the next phase of the transformation, Leon also is reinventing its brand to further the company’s longtime vision of “mixing art with audio and design with technology.”
Watch this video to learn more:
7 Clever Ways to Hide Home Technology - CE Pro Download
Most technology products are not that visually appealing. Black boxes and tangled wires do not add to the character of a high-end smart home project. Luckily, our integrator readers have a number of clever solutions so these components don’t have to be visible in your next project.
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org
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