Count high-performance loudspeaker manufacturer Starke Sound as the latest audio company stealing a page from powerhouse Sonos by pursuing a dealer network strategy while at the same time building consumer awareness. The company made its official debut in the U.S. in 2016 and will be showcasing its colorful eye-popping speaker designs at the upcoming L.A. Audio Show with a 13-seat $145,000 home theater and a mammoth 52-seat, $250,000 setup.
Los Angeles-area Starke Sound offers margin-laden loudspeakers ranging from its $13,920/pair Starke Sound IC-H5 Elite floorstanding units to its $7,240/pair IW-H3 Elite Beryllium tweeter in-ceiling architectural speakers. Starke Sound also has a $2,750 SUB36 subwoofer, $12,960/pair IW-H5 Elite Wall-Mounted speakers and other models.
The company, which was founded in 2009, is led by the design team of Scott DeLoache, chief design officer, Dan Wiggins, chief technology officer, and Spring Qin, chief marketing officer. Starke Sound will exhibit at the CEDIA show this fall in San Diego for the first time, but in the meantime the company will be showcasing its wares to consumers at the L.A. Audio Show June 2-4. The show will take place at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel near L.A. International Airport.
According to DeLoache, the company believes it is important to garner consumer recognition while selling through dealers.
“It allows us to meet end users and also get valuable feedback,” he says. “It also enables us to create a demand strategy whereby consumers eventually will ask dealers for Starke Sound systems. At the same time, we are actively trying to expand our dealer network. Our primary goal is to meet more dealers.”
Starke currently have five dealers in its U.S. network. At L.A. Audio Show, the company has a giant space where the team will be meeting with end users, but also with dealers.
“We have set aside VIP time during the show to meet with dealers. That is important to us because we do not sell direct to consumers, only through dealers,” says DeLoache, who says audiophiles and Millennials seem to appreciate the eye-catching, cosmopolitan designs of its products. Sonos is the poster child for a company that has successfully pursued a push/pull strategy of creating consumer awareness that drives end users to its dealer network.
DeLoache says the company is “flexible” with its dealer selection in that it is not based on issuing geographically exclusive territories. However, the company does have some non-exclusive arrangements with integrators who have a long list of repeat clients scattered around the U.S. In those cases if an elite end user who is already a client of an existing dealer wants a system for a home in another territory, that original dealer is going to get the sale.
“We want a comfortable number of dealers in each region to satisfy the customers. We don’t want to over-saturate a market. We want to take care of our dealers and never have them feel like they are competing against another Starke dealer,” explains DeLoache.
Starke is looking to fill out a nationwide network of dealers for the entire U.S. The company has one independent rep in place and has been approached by others, according to DeLoache.
“We offer great margins for dealers… so great that we are hard to ignore,” he adds.
Among the support programs Starke offers to dealers are in-house design (for either the integrator or his clients), along with full design services (for a fee). “Dealers love the service because it cuts another middle man out of the process,” says DeLoache, who is also a licensed designer.
Starke Sound Proprietary Technology
Starke Sound’s big difference is its patented Linear Magnetic Field Driver, a proprietary technology specifically designed to increase range while minimizing distortion. The proprietary nature has to do with how the coil is wound, explains DeLoache. The loudspeakers produce a sonic signature that provides a large dynamic range with the ability to deliver high detail and deep-reaching bass, according to the company.
In addition, its beryllium tweeters have the ability to handle high frequencies. Lastly, the company uses carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastic (CFRTP) cones provide strength and rigidity to minimize structural deflections and maintain subtle acoustic variations. Starke does everything in-house from its assembly and product facilities in Oxnard, Calif., and overseas. The company makes its own cabinets and can create custom colors when requested.
“We are able to make the beautiful piano lacquer finishes and beryllium tweeters overseas to keep the prices down,” says DeLoache. The Flagship model for the brand is the IW-H5 Series speaker, which has 3.5 inches of depth.
52-Seat Theater at LA Audio Show
At the show, the company has a giant single room that is 50×50 feet. Inside, the room is divided into three areas: a 52-person cinema room, a smaller 13-person home theater, and an area for static displays and stereo listening area. Starke employees will be running eight- to 10-minute demos during the show in the two full Dolby Atmos theaters.
To complete the component selection for the theaters, Starke Sound worked closely with its premier dealer, High End Zone, who coordinated with its sponsor partners including Trinnov processors, JVC projectors, Screen Excellence screens, and a Kaleidescape media player.
“Show attendees will have a rare opportunity to enjoy a 3D immersive cinema entertainment experience as well as a real-world home theater example of what’s possible with Starke Sound products available today. We appreciate the support of our partners to help make our vision a reality for this tech tour de force presentation,” notes DeLoache.
The Large Cinema Room will boast a 52-seat theater showcasing a 13.6.8 Dolby Atmos configuration with the system valued at $250,000 driven by Starke Sound’s Halo Series: IC-H5 Elite floor standing, IW-H5 Elite wall mounted, IW-H3 Beryllium Tweeter ceiling mounted, along with SUB36 subwoofers and new A7 Mark II amplifiers.
The Home Theater Room will feature a more intimate setting with a 13-seat home theater in a 9.4.4 Dolby Atmos configuration with the system price of $145,000, including the same models, in less quantity as the Large Cinema Room.
Large Cinema Room 13.6.8 Dolby Atmos Configuration
(5) Starke Sound IC-H5 Elite Floor Standing Loudspeaker — MSRP $13,920/pair
(8) Starke Sound IW-H5 Elite Wall Mounted Loudspeaker — MSRP $12,960/pair
(8) Starke Sound IW-H3 Elite Beryllium Tweeter Ceiling Mounted — MSRP $7,240/pair
(4) Starke Sound SUB36 Subwoofer — MSRP $2,750/each
(3) A7 Mark II Amplifier — MSRP $7,900/each
Home Theater Room: 9.4.4 Dolby Atmos Configuration
(9) Starke Sound IC-H3 Elite Beryllium Tweeter Floor Standing Loudspeaker — MSRP $7,480/pair
(4) Starke Sound IW-H3 Elite Beryllium Tweeter Ceiling Mounted — MSRP $7,240/pair
(4) Starke Sound SUB36 Subwoofer — MSRP $2,750/each
(2) A7 Mark II Amplifier — MSRP $7,900/each