Icon Acoustics A manufacturer of loudspeakers based in Billerica, Massachusets, USA and founded in April 1989 by David R. Fokos who had previously designed the Synthesis line of speakers for Conrad-Johnson. The company had 2 models, the Lumen that are small mini monitors and Parsec which is a high end model, all being sold direct to end users. The company’s products did not appear to generate any real mount of interest in the marketplace but its business model of selling loudspeakers direct to consumer did actually generate quite some interest and a number of articles on the company appeared in the USA business press, however that attention does not appear to have translated into sales and the company disappears in 1993 or thereabouts and Mr. Fokos went to work for Boston Acoustics.
Impact See --> Unitronex (Loudspeakers - Poland/USA - 1978 to mid 80's)
Impact Technology Ltd. A manufacturer of mid & high end loudspeaker based in the USA, much of their output was large 2 way speakers but featured an innovative bending wave driver called the Airfoil that the company invented and patented. The Airfoil is a "ribbon round a magnet" type of transducer and it generated a lot of interest in the first years of the century but the company still appears to have fizzled out in or around 2003, but note that the company still holds out a webpage. Homepage:http://membrane.com/impact/index.html
Infrared Research Laboratories USA based manufacturer of generic remote controls that the company marketed under the SoleControl brand, one of the first if not the first maker of such contraptions, bought out by Recoton in 1994 after it stopped trading.
This may come as a surprise to some but yes, IBM was actually active in the audio business particularly in the 30's, although most of them their products were intended for PA use they also saw use in Radio stations and recording studios. Amongst their products were microphones, amplifiers and mixers. They were also active in the dictation market from the late 50's and into the mid 70's after they bought the intellectual properties of Pierce Wire Recorder Corp. and were actually the biggest manufacturer of dictation recorders in the USA in the early to mid 60's. Homepage:http://www.ibm.com
International Jensen Based in Benicia, California, USA. A long running manufacturer of loudspeakers and loudspeaker drivers, although it had successfully got into car audio electronics through its German subsidiary. The company was by the mid 90's a leading manufacturer of home and automotive loudspeakers but faced increasing competition from far eastern manufacturers and outside of the car audio business their attempts to break into the more lucrative parts of the home audio business had not been totally successful, but along the way the company had acquired a number of companies including Acoustic Research (Teledyne) and Now Hear This (NHT) in the early 90's and with those brands including Acoustic Research, Advent, Phase Linear, Mac Audio, Day Sequerra and Magnat. After having been run at a loss for a few years the company was effectivly split into 3 separate companies in August 1996 and sold off in parts, the consumer and marketing part of the company was sold to Recoton were it continued as the semi-independent Recoton Audio Corp, the OEM loudspeaker driver division was sold to a company called IJI Acquisition Corp that was in fact expressly founded by IJ CEO Robert G. Shaw to buy that operation and the OEM business receivables were sold to the Harris Trust and Savings Bank, this did not go through without problems however and a number of stockholders sued all of the partaking companies and their advisers but to no avail. One interesting sub-story in relation to to the company was that in 1991 they held a competition called "a sound for Europe" (Un Suono Per J'Europa) in conjunction with their Italian importer Entel whereby amateur loudspeaker builders in Italy were invited to come up with speaker designs that suited Italian tastes, one of the designs was so successful that the company actually started manufacturing them as the AR Contest Series, initially with a 2 way bookshelf model called Contest 9 but later a 3 way and a floorstanding model were added, the designer was Claudio Popovich who is currently running the Artis Sonus company and manufacturing speakers that are developments of the models he designed for Jensen. Spares & service : I have not been able to nail down a supplier that is supplying spares for the Jensen lines in general but there are a number of suppliers that can help you with the loudspeakers that the company manufactured under various brands, see: speaker repairer (grey sidebar) (Grey sidebar). For the Contest range mentioned above Ciare or their distributors can provide compatible drivers.
Company originally founded in 1946 but incorporated in 1948 by Hugh Shaler Knowles (1904 – 1988) as Industrial Research Products Inc. in Bensenville, Illinois, USA and in its first few years operated mostly as a communication research lab working on contracts for the USA government, most notably on manufacturing blast resistant speakers and horns although the company also did work on weapons technology. Work in that field dried out in the 1960’s and the company was taken over in the latter half of the decade by another company founded by H.S. Knowles that is called Knowles Electronics that specialised in manufacturing transducers for manufacturers of hearing aids, and effectively became KE’s audio research division.
This lead to a number of innovative PA products that were sold under the IRP brand rather than the Knowles name since the latter is primarily a parts manufacturer and did not want to appear to be in competition with its customers, these include the world’s first digital delay, a line of automatic mixers and level controls a transversal equaliser and a modular effect processing system.
The division was separated from the company into a limited partnership in 1989 but was run at a loss during most of the latter half of the 80’s and early 90’s, this had not necessarily been a problem prior to that since it was effectively a R&D vehicle for Knowles Electronics and as such did not need to make money directly. By the 90’s however the mother company was in a bit of a precarious position financially and had planned to dispose of IRP as early as 1992 with the plan that if it had not been sold by 1994 it would be liquidated. What happens thereafter is not clear, but the company is by 1997 an independent entity manufacturing auto-mixers and professional amplifiers, in 1998 the company announced that it had bought MicroAudio and it the rights to manufacture the computer controlled equalisers that latter company made. By 2000 however that takeover arrangement had been reverted, IRP is by 2001 owned by German company AVM-IRP and it moves to Oklohoma City that year, by 2003 all local manufacturing had been closed down and moved to Germany.
Spares & service : Service for the company’s products in the USA can be had from Delta Audio.
Japanese gentleman that started to produce high end fullrange coaxial connector loudspeaker drivers and systems built around them under the Roiene Audio Lab brand after he retired from Foster Electric Company/Fostex in the early 90's where he was a head designer, but note that in the west his products were branded as just "Roiene". Appears that he only produced 2 models of drivers, both utilised an AlNiCo motor and were very expensive, the loudspeaker systems were relatively inexpensive in comparision to the driver models, but they were a floostanding model built around the Roiene RA160 driver and a more squareish standmounted speaker built around the larger Roiene RA200 driver.
While not many manufactures utilised the drivers in their designs they did gain a bit of a cult following in Germany and Japan in particular and were noted for their suitability for use with back-loaded horns and Auditorium 23 and Hasehiro Audio used them as such in their products. Sadly Imamura-san had to stop making products due to age related problems in or around 2006.
Resources : Our Facebook page has a copy of an open baffle plan that Imamura-san sent out in the mid 90's
Spares & service : In Europe you can contact this gentleman if your Roiene speakers or drivers need repairs: Peiter Beschallung, Weiherstrasse 25, D-75173 Pforzheim, Germany. Tel:+49 (0)7231 24665.
Company founded in Kranj municipality (Krainburg), Yugoslavia on March the 8th,1946 and initially operated as a radio workshop run by electric engineer Mirjan Gruden although he left later that year to take up a teaching position at Ljubljana Technical Univeristy. The company was by 1947 already manufacturing switches and by 1951 had branched into the manufacture of capacitors, electric motors and radios. When Iskra initially ran out of space at their original Kranj location they started expanding by setting up nominally independent companies all over Slovenia initially and later in other parts of Yugoslavia and was by the late 1960’s manufacturing anything from resistors to computers and had become the largest electronics manufacturer in the country with over 30 separate business units, even outstripping the state run behemoths of Serbia. For a time the company even made purely mechanical products such as cameras for a while (not to be confused with the Russian Iskra cameras though)
Unlike most Eastern European electronics companies many Iskra subsidiaries were partially dependent upon export sales to the west and in those cases concentrated more on specific niches rather than attempt to cash in on lower labour costs in the region, this was partly because the labour costs in parts of Eastern Europe were not really all that much lower in reality but relied upon undervalued East European currencies, in addition the productivity per person was lower than in Western Europe, even though the productivity in the Iskra plants was much higher than in the Czech Republic and Poland, never mind basket cases like Bulgaria was at the time, but it still meant that the company could only compete on price if they managed to get the raw materials from other Eastern European countries. This lead Iskra to design and build products specifically for export and concentrate on specific niches such as aerials, metal detectors and specialised power tools but in addition to that they were also very successful in exporting electronic parts, primarily inductors, capacitors and resistors.
As with many socialist style company structures all sales and purchasing for the group in addition to handling third party trade was done by a centralised entity in this case “Iskra Commerse”, the “third party trading” was important and indeed necessary for the Hungarian, Yugoslavian and East-German companies of the East Block since to be able to export goods that included materials bought with hard (tradable) currency’s to countries such as Poland and Russia that had soft currency’s Iskra had to barter goods from the soft currency area that it could sell for hard currency. The division of the company that is of most interest to audio fans was called Iskra Elektroakustika which was on one hand a consumer radio, TV and hi-fi factory in based in Kranj and a design department located in Ljubljana that also made specialised recording and transmission equipment, the latter had some surprisingly sophisticated designs for the time including computer acoustic analysis equipment they sold in the early 70’s.
The consumer audio and video products were never a large part of the company’s output and were never identified by Iskra Commerce as an appropriate niche for export and thus it is rare to see Iskra branded CE products outside of Yugoslavia, they seldom turned up for sale even in other Eastern European countries, nonetheless the company released a number of interesting products including amplifiers and other separates in the very early 60’s and it was one of the country’s main provider of hi-fi loudspeakers. Due to the fact that the company sometimes had excess hard currency you will sometimes see surprising western parts included in their line-ups such as Garrard turntables housed in locally made plinths for hi-fi separates and a portable record player based around a record changer from the same company. In fact to satisfy local demand they sometimes sold co-branded products from other Easter European companies rather than step up production in its own factories, examples include Unitra portable radios and boomboxes (co-branded = the units had both the Iskra and Unitra brand on them).
The declaration of independence by Slovenia in 1991 hit the company hard, not only did it lose the subsidiaries and factories based in other Yugoslavian countries but even more disastrously they lost their home market. Yugoslavia was a reasonably big European country with about 24 million inhabitants and economic development and purchasing power per inhabitant similar to south European countries, Slovenia on the other hand was a tiny country of less than 2 million people, this meant in reality that the company as a whole no longer had a realistic survival prospects and was dismantled by the Slovenia government, the Iskra Elektroakustika factory in Kranj was converted into a business incubator in 1992, the capacitor plants however survived and are now Iskra MIS.
Isophon German loudspeaker manufacturer founded in Berlin in 1929 as E. Fritz & Co. GMBH, sold the first 2 way loudspeaker systems in 1935 and manufactured both drivers and loudspeaker systems (mostly PA and other sound reinforcement units though) well into the 70's but gradually phased out production of systems and survived mostly on providing car audio drivers to the German automotive industry. Sold to Thomson in the 1980's, the brandname is however licensed to Acoustic Consulting which manufactures mid and high end loudspeakers. For support for older Isophon products contact D. Lange & Partner..