Leon Turns Those Crazy Speaker Ideas into Real Products, Boasts All-New Morel Drivers
Leon Speakers has been showcasing outrageous speakers, sculptures and moving objects since the sound-spewing dragon of 2010. At CEDIA Expo 2015, that craziness becomes real.
Julie Jacobson · October 12, 2015
Since then, the company has erected at least one amazing showcase piece per year, just to prove that it can. But this year at CEDIA Expo 2015, Leon will promote those marvels as real products, available for sale.
“We’re going to show people how you can actually buy it,” says marketing director Ethan Kaplan, who regrets that the dragon won't be among the new SKUs.
In 2013, Leon created a 6- by 8-foot sound sculpture with undulating slats and multicolor LEDs. After that show, “people actually started spec’ing them,” says Kaplan. “When we put one in Miami, it sold in two weeks.”
And so, says Kaplan, “We decided we might as well productize them.”
In the case of the sound sculpture, Leon has created a manageable SKU that ships in three modules plus an optional RGB lighting kit.
“It’s similar to the original design,” Kaplan says, “but it’s modular. It’s not a gigantic piece you have to ship around.”
The sculpture, lined with Leon speakers and a subwoofer, also is a little different in that it’s powered by Leon’s new Ultima platform, featuring handmade tweeters and an optimized crossover design co-developed with Morel.
In fact, Kaplan says Leon has “completely re-designed” its entire Reference Series, all of which now will benefit from the new Ultima standard.
More Leon Craziness in a Box
Last year at CEDIA, Leon demonstrated a liquor bar, hidden by a motorized piece of art flanked by Leon Profile on-wall speakers. It was, in the words of Kaplan, “a real ‘sound bar.’”
With the press of a button, the custom artwork rolled up into the soffit, revealing a brightly lit bar with bottles lining the glass shelves. Good bottles, of course, because that’s how Leon rolls. The demo seemed right out of a speakeasy.
The motorization came courtesy of Media Décor, the maker of movable art that Leon acquired in 2013.
“A dealer in Philadelphia bought the whole thing at CEDIA,” Kaplan says, “so we thought we should probably figure out what the ‘product’ was.”
VIDEO: Leon 'Sound Bar' coming to CEDIA 2015; lessons on taking landscape-oriented videos coming in 2016.
This year at CEDIA, Leon will showcase a ready-to-sell version that is surface mounted, as opposed to last year’s ensemble that was recessed into the wall. In this version, the speakers are hidden below the bar shelves. A vintage metal grille flips down to reveal three compartments - two for audio, and one for anything else - bar accessories, mixology books, magic potions or other contraband, Kaplan suggests.
Also at last year’s expo, Leon showed a prototype curved soundbar, the Horizon Curv, to match those newfangled curved TVs. This year, Leon is productizing the concept, having collected data on most of the new concave sets.
“We’ve been lucky because dealers will ship the TVs to us,” Kaplan says. “Then we can see exactly what the mounting mechanism is and make specific brackets for those TVs.”
Three versions of the curved speakers will be available in good-better-best fashion with the top-of-the-line including the Ultima drivers.
ToneCase: The Big Reveal
Earlier this year, Leon introduced ToneCase, a line of products that conceal Sonos PLAY speakers and the Playbar soundbar.
Now, the world gets to see and touch these products for the first time at CEDIA 2015, where Leon will have “a full wall dedicated to ToneCase,” Kaplan says.
The ToneCase line, sold under the design-centric Media Decor business, includes a TV mount for the Playbar soundbar (FIT) and a series of cabinets to house Sonos PLAY speakers.
Kaplan says that that the Playbar version of ToneCase has been one of Leon’s biggest success stories in company history … “and we haven’t even shown it!”
Unlike some other generic TV mounting systems that accommodate Sonos and a wide variety of other soundbars, Leon’s version is specific to Playbar, with cable management in all the right places and custom grilles to match the specific TV on which the speaker is mounted.
The ToneCase Hardwood Cabinets, which make Sonos speakers look like traditional wooden shelf speakers, are slightly more difficult for integrators to visualize, Kaplan says. But the hands-on display at CEDIA should be just the ticket.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - JULIE JACOBSON
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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 email@example.com
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