Cary Audio’s president Billy Wright talks about the company’s re-launched “budget” line, Audio Electronics.
You say “re-launched” … for those not wholly familiar with Audio Electronics happenings over recent years, please explain. Did the brand go into hiatus for a while?
Audio Electronics started in 1993 as a parts supplier. It evolved over the years into providing kit products and later into a product line consisting of amplifiers, a preamplifier, and a phono preamplifier. The performance and sound quality of all of the Audio Electronics products was excellent. However, we became focused on developing other parts of the business with Cary Audio. This absorbed our time as well as our resources so the decision was made to let the Audio Electronics brand go dormant. This was in 2009. The thoughts were always to re-invent the product line at some point in the future. We think now is an excellent time to re-launch the AE brand due to a need and desire in the market for affordable, stylish, and superb high performance products.
How are things different/the same in this iteration of the brand?
While both iterations of the AE brand were to present products at lower price points than the Cary Audio product line, the original products were designed to appeal to the same basic customer base as the Cary Audio brand. The new or re-launched AE product line will be positioned to reach a new generation of music fans with a smaller, sleeker design suited for the urban environment.
What is the product line-up currently, and what do you have planned for the near future?
Our first product is a solid-state headphone amplifier called the Nighthawk. It will be released the week of May 21 and will retail for US$1,195. Later in the summer, we will release a vacuum tube amplifier and a vacuum tube preamplifier. In early fall, we plan to release a new 24/192 USB DAC. We have plans for additional exciting new products that will appeal to a new segment of music lovers as well as to our core customer base from around the world.
As for reaching out to a new generation of music fans, are we looking at computer/server-related gear in the AE range soon?
You will see products like the USB 24/192 DAC that will contain the latest technological features. It will take the signal from the source and have it perform at an extremely high level when run through an AE branded system. The intent is for future products to be able to access the network and integrate seamlessly into the customer’s lifestyle.
Price apart, how do you set the qualitative parameters when drawing the line with Cary Audio products, which obviously are targeted at more discerning and mature audiophiles.
Excellent question. The cosmetics are a little different – smaller footprint, features are somewhat different, and basic design is similar but also different, which all lead to being able to offer the products at a lower price point. However, as in the Cary Audio line, we do not sacrifice build, sound, or performance quality. So, you will always get the highest level in a product that is available at a particular price point.
Any HT products in the pipeline for AE?
There are no plans for HT products for the AE brand in the near future. However, things change, and it is always possible.
For international customers, will AE products be made available through the local distributor? Or can they buy directly from Cary Audio – if yes, will you also ship 220-240V versions?
Yes, the AE brand products will be made available through the local distributor. If the customer prefers, it can be also be purchased direct through Cary Audio. We are shipping 220-240v versions of all products.
What percentage of the overall Cary Audio sales have you targeted for AE?
Initially, the AE sales are expected to be a relatively small percentage of overall Cary Audio sales. However, as the product line develops, we anticipate the percentage to increase significantly.