Klipsch Refines Electronics, Speaker Plans

Attendees at the Custom Electronics Design and Installation Association Expo 2001 will be the first to see new Aragon products, parent company Klipsch announced in late June. The Indianapolis-based audio manufacturer will unveil new Aragon/Klipsch home theater systems at the annual show held in its hometown the first week of September. The show's stature has grown to such an extent that many companies now choose to debut new products there rather than at the January Consumer Electronics Show.

Late in 2000, Klipsch quietly acquired Mondial Designs, maker of Aragon and Acurus electronics. From the beginning, Klipsch planned to revive both brands. That is still the intention, according to Paul Jacobs, senior vice president, but the company will concentrate in the immediate future on developing new Aragon models while suspending its marketing of Acurus products after the current inventory is sold. The Acurus name, more closely associated with the "upper mid-fi" market, will likely be reborn as part of Klipsch's line of custom installation offerings, Jacobs stated. "Mediocre products don't enhance the future of the industry," he pointed out, explaining that engineering efforts for both brands will be focused on quality.

Under Mondial, Aragon made amps and preamps. The product development program at Klipsch includes the first source product to wear the Aragon name, also to debut at CEDIA. At this point it isn't clear which of the many optical disc formats the player will handle, or if the new machine will be one of the first high-end universal players. Klipsch has cancelled plans to make a high-end DVD-A/V player, according to other reports.

Klipsch is also dropping some models of speakers and redesigning others to leverage the Aragon name. "We'll pull our electronics and speaker design teams together to focus on ease of use and complementary industrial designs," Jacobs stated. The Legend series of speakers will be discontinued, as will some Reference models. A major goal of the design team is to retain the classic Klipsch sound and efficiency while reducing cabinet size. Marketing studies have shown widespread consumer resistance to overly large loudspeakers, Jacobs acknowledged. The redesigns, however, will "not compromise our values," he emphasized, noting that Klipsch is one of the few makers of horn-loaded loudspeakers, and the best known among them. "Horns are who we are," he insisted. Klipsch owns the second-largest share of the domestic loudspeaker market, according to statistics compiled by market research firm NPD Intelect.