Long before Seattle was known for its high-end coffee, the city suburb of Mountlake Terrace earned a reputation in A/V circles as the home of AudioControl, which for the past 39 years has been engineering, designing and manufacturing high-end equipment for the car and home markets.
The company is not a secret by any means to integrators, but the level of quality it put into its cost-effective products might be surprise to some CE pros. Always sold through the dealer channel, AudioControl’s pre-pros, receivers, amplifiers and extenders are built on a cornerstone of solid sound analysis, EQ and signal processing.
The 50-person company derives about 55 percent of its revenues from car audio and the remainder from the home market (as well as in-the-field sound analysis tools like real time analyzers). AudioControl is led by CEO Alex Camara, who bought the company a few years back from longtime owner Tom Walker, who played a leading role in AudioControl's reputation as a U.S. manufacturer in the audio industry. Longtime vice president of sales Chris Kane works closely with Camara. Since Camara took over, the company has greatly expanded its product development so it can stay ahead of the curve on HDMI and other technologies.
“We bring integrated solutions that offer flexibility for integrators,” says Brandon Cook, director of technical services, who recently took the time to give CE Pro a tour of the facility.
Those integrated solutions are not haphazard. The company’s engineering team can take as much as nine to 24 months to bring a product to market from time of inception, according to chief engineer Robert Biggs, who heads up the four-person engineering team. That includes design, development, tooling, prototype creation, testing, multiple revisions, beta testing by integrators in the field and even more testing after that.
Take a Guided Tour of the AudioControl Factory
All the fabrication and assembly is also done locally. In fact, everything but some PCB board assembly done in Spokane is done right in Mountlake Terrace. Most of the components are hand stuffed on the boards and even the cable assemblies are handmade.
And speaking of testing … every car and home audio product is tested a minimum of six times in various ways, not to mention a 24- to 48-hour burn-in period for amps. According to Cook, AudioControl has some of the lowest defect rates in the industry at less that 0.9 percent. This is driven by this testing regime performed during the manufacturing process which is a key benefit of operating its U.S.-based manufacturing factory. Cook says the company can build about eight to 10 units per day, scaling up depending on the model and customer requirements.
AudioControl’s most well-known models include the Concert AVR-9/AVR-7 receivers, Maestro M9 pre-pro, Pantages G3 and Savoy G3 theater amps, Rialto 400/600 and Bijou 600 zone amplifiers, Architect series multiroom amps, and the Director Series network amplifiers. In all, the company has about 90 SKUs.
“Even though we have been around for nearly four decades, one of our biggest opportunities is market awareness of what we bring to the market … a high level of quality, U.S. manufacturing at cost-effective price points, continued innovation in audio, that all delivers our mission of making good sound great” comments Cook.
Recently, CE Pro got a chance to peek inside the home of the company with a guided tour of the factory.