Wadia Returns as Division of Audio Video Research

Briefly gone but not forgotten, Wadia Digital will return as a division of Audio Video Research, Inc. (AVR) of Ann Arbor, Michigan, a new company formed in December, 2000 by combining the assets of Wadia and Digital Imaging Corporation. Wadia products, including the 861 and 831 CD players and 27ix processor, will be shown at CES in January, 2001.

One of Wadia's first new offerings will be a "significant upgrade" for the 27ix (a Stereophile "Recommended Component"), according to company president and CEO Jim Anderson. Wadia's distribution network is intact, and warranties on all Wadia products will be honored by AVR. "It's tremendously exciting to be reconnecting with our dealers," Anderson said in a phone interview on December 8. "They have been incredibly loyal during this difficult period."

Anderson mentioned that Wadia's physical assets and equipment will be moved in mid-winter from River Falls, Wisconsin to a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Ann Arbor. Also making the journey will be personnel from Wadia's sales, marketing, and engineering departments. "We feel especially fortunate to have been able to continue a working relationship with employees from Wadia Digital, many of whom are helping us in the transition," Anderson said. "Our attrition rate has been surprisingly low. We are encouraging key employees to move to Ann Arbor."

AVR anticipates becoming a leader in audio and video processing technology, in part by leveraging Ann Arbor's strong tradition in industrial electronics, and in part by taking advantage of the huge pool of engineering talent produced by nearby universities. (Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan, and Michigan State, Wayne State, and Eastern Michigan Universities are all within a one-hour drive.) "Some of AVR's working relationships go back 20 years," according to vice president of sales and marketing John Schaffer, a former Wadia manager. "We intend to bring a new level of manufacturing discipline to this industry."

Wadia products will continue to push the "reference level," said Schaffer. "That's our passion." The company also intends to introduce products in the more affordable $3000–$5000 range, but has no intention of sullying the Wadia name by putting it on low-end gear. "We are not going to compete with mass marketers," Schaffer stated. "We'll never sell a product we're not proud of."

In addition to ultra-advanced disc players, digital/analog converters, and digital signal processors, AVR/Wadia will produce surround-sound processors and digital amplifiers—building on Wadia's experience with the PowerDAC, an expensive all-digital amplifier that was one of Wadia's last projects before financial problems forced the company to shut down. The new venture is "very well-funded," said both Anderson and Schaffer, without specifying who company backers are, or the depth of their commitment. AVR has "no debt, and owns substantial physical and intellectual assets," Anderson emphasized.

AVR's video division will work on advancing the technology of video processing, according to Schaffer, but the Wadia division will concentrate on upper-end audio products, all of them employing "ultra-fast, patented, Swift Current sonic-enhancement technology." Another unique feature will be "selectable algorithms [that] optimize the player to the system." Without revealing technical details, Schaffer said the technique will help audio systems "attain better synergy."

At CES, Wadia will showcase its products in Suite 2607 in the Alexis Park, with amplifiers from the Jeff Rowland Design Group and "PipeDreams" loudspeakers by Nearfield Acoustics, Inc. (Wadia does not have a new website; link to the old one here.)