Defunct Audio Manufacturers - Ro to R9

Roadstar See --> Harvard International (1996 to 2007) or Roadstar (1983 to 1996) or Sunrise House (ca 1970 to ca 1982)

Robert Grodinsky Research
Company based in Lincolnwood, Illinois, USA that made high end amplifier products and audio processors in addition to offering modifications for Audio Research turntables. Run by designer Robert M. Grodinsky who had prior to opening the RGR company designed electronics for Acoustic Research (Teledyne), Koss and Pioneer amongst other things, timeline appears to be late 70’s into the early 80’s.

The company made high end preamplifiers that were in some aspects much unlike what was emerging as the norm for high end audio products at the time, including having 2 phono inputs, each with variable loading, and the phono section sounded quite good for the time as well. The amplifiers also have a bright and clear sound quite uncharacteristic of USA made equipment from that timeframe but American audiophiles tended to favour dark sounding, slightly filtered equipment, perhaps due to noise problems with many LP´s and tapes put out at the time, this means that the sound of the RGR amps is more reminiscent of Japanese or German high end products of the 70´s than the new world equivalents. However early units got a reputation for shabby build quality although that appears improved as the years passed but perhaps more irritatingly from a modern perspective is the quality of some mechanical and passive components, with many of the older generation of designer there was limited no appreciation of the quality of passive components (a problem with Quad from a similar timeframe) the preamplifiers suffer from this problem more than the power amps but this also hampered the expanders that the company sold which were otherwise an ingenious design that often worked better than corresponding dbx corp. units even though Mr. Grodinsky lacked the financial clout that allowd dbx to design custom silicon.

The company disappears around 1980 but shortly afterwards a company called RG Dynamics shows up in neighbouring town of Skokie and more lately Mr. Grodinsky appears to be the primus motor behind State Technology Research.

Spares & service : No company specialises in servicing RGR products and although Mr. Grodinsky is still in the hi-fi business it appears that he is no longer able to provide any support. However there are no exotic parts inside these amps and even the knobs used are standard items still manufactured (or equivalents), most of the problems seen in the preamps are due to manufacturing faults, re-capping, re-soldering and replacing some of the passive parts and the RCA connectors would leave you with an amplifier that was functionally better than new. The power amplifiers have fared much better but there appear to be fewer of them around but most of them still operational.

Road Gear See --> Recoton

Roiene (Japan, loudpeaker drivers) See --> Isao Yamamura

Roland See --> Rotel

Rolling Stone See --> Recoton (Accessories only, 1998 to 2003)

Roman Audio Systems

A manufacturer of mid to high end loudspeakers based in Groves, Texas, USA, and was run by Dale Fontenot who was previously well known in the high end automobile audio market. The company claimed to have revolutionary crossovers in the form of a technology called DiAural that was developed by Kimber Kable’s Eric Alexander and licenced to Roman Audio. The company’s products all featured Roman names, the “Vesuvius” and “Gladiator” subwoofers, the “Pro Consule” centre channel speaker, the “Senator” loudspeaker that is a small two way unit meant to be used as a standmounter rather than a bookshelf unit, and the 2 way “Centurion” floorstander, all featuring Cabasse drivers.

Their speakers got a fairly good reputation amongst the online community particularly for their value for money while the subwoofers and the centre channel speakers were considered overpriced, but I have not been able to track down any reviews of their products amongst the established media. The company appears to have been established around 2001 and we lost contact around 2006 but the real time line is unknown.

Rose (Pro audio) See --> Kunhong

Ross (Headphones & accessories) See --> Tambalan Ltd. (1970's to 1997) or Recoton (1997 to 2003)

Rondo GmbH
A company founded by serial entrepreneur Willy Bürkle (1906 ~ 1973) and was based in Stuttgart, in Baden-Württemberg, West Germany. In 1945 Hr. Bürkle had an idea for a radio receiver that was built into a ceramic vase or urn made by the Gutenhalde Pottery that he owned, he contacted the LTP Apparatewerk Lennartz & Boucke KG company that was then based in Stuttgart, and a deal was stuck whereby LTP's Dr. Herbert Lennartz would design a simple inexpensive radio that would fit into the urn, LTP would manufacture and market the units under Bürkle's Rondo brand and he in turn would receive royalties for each item sold.

The idea to manufacture a radio in an urn was not as odd as it may seem at first, ceramics are actually better materials acoustically for loudspeakers than wood is, the design featured an upright firing loudspeaker that sounded through holes in the top side of the urn, while the radio controls are hidden at the top of the unit, underneath a hinged lid. The presence of the Bakelite control panel and associated electronics at the top, above the speaker actually enhanced the omnidirectional effect since it pushed the sound to the side where the holes were and for casual listeners an omni is actually preferable to a direct firing loudspeaker, especially if the listener is not in the same room as the device. In addition the company could make the urns in both a variety of glazes and also with all kinds of decorative print transfers at fairly low prices compared to what it cost to modify and paint wooden boxes.

The Rondo Zauberdose radio was a surprise hit in the marketplace, even in the severely depressed German economy of 1946 and managed to put the fledging LTP company on enough of a secure footing financially to enable the to move to bigger premises in Tübingen. The Radio was for all intents and purposes "invisible" and created a market that people had not often realised at the time existed, but the average radio at the time was furniture and often the focal point of a living room and the Zauberdose appealed to a customer base that simply did not want one of those in their rooms.

The company was however hit by a series of disasters, in 1948 the LTP company was shipped ten thousand urns from the Gutenhalde Potteries, that were to small for the radios that were meant to go into them, LTP never recovered from that and royalty payments to Rondo stopped overnight. Hr. Bürkle responded by getting East German contract manufacturers to make the radios for him and marketing them for himself, initially the Ernst Groß GmbH concern made them but by 1950 the manufacture had been moved to Ponti. Because the original design was fast becoming outdated in the quickly moving radio market of the late 40's the company tried to introduce a better model called "Wunderland" that had 2 lidless vases, one housing the radio and the other the loudspeaker and even offered a vase speaker as an extension loudspeaker for other radios, but these only sold in limited numbers.

However the loss of royalties from LTP meant that Rondo GmbH missed some loan payments and had to get loans from the state owned Landesgirokasse Stuttgart, when that bank started looking into the finances of the company and its owner, it became apparent that some securities that Bürkle had given for loans transpired to be worthless or non-existent. What followed became the political scandal of 1950 in Germany, Willy Bürkle was a politician that held several minor positions on local councils in the Baden-Württemberg area and was well connected not only with the local political parties and with the American occupation forces but also in the Soviet controlled east. He had received huge loans from the LS bank and had used them to buy and found a number of companies in the transportation, building, textile and food industries, however as the example of the Gutenhalde Pottery and the 10k incorrect urns showed, they were all rather inexpertly managed. In fact all of them were run at a loss with the sole exception being Rondo and a company called "Nährmittelfabrik Willy Bürkle" that made nutritional supplements and vitamin pills. To mask the deep losses at his other companies Hr. Bürkle transferred money from NWB to his other companies by issuing fake invoices.

When he started defaulting on loan payments in 1950 it transpired that the LS bank had refused to give him the loans but their decision was overridden by the local government of Stuttgart who where the banks ultimate owners. When the companies were made insolvent one by one, the Landesgirokasse Stuttgart managed to convince the courts that since the Stuttgart local authority had overridden their decision on the loans in the first place they were de facto guarantor of the loans and the City of Stuttgart ended up having to re-pay the bulk of them since the liquidation of the Bürkle group returned very limited cash to the creditors. Thus the fall of Rondo and its sister company managed to end or severely hamper the carriers of a number of local politicians.

Rostbo See --> Kunhong (Pro audio)

RTVC Limited

Company based on Edgware Road in London, England, very little is actually known about RTVC Ltd. and its history. but it seems to start up in the 1960's and was a fairly big retailer of new and second hand audio products, electronic parts and consumer electronics. However they are most notable in this day and age for offering kits of tabletop and portable radio receivers that were at the time considered to be amongst the best such available in the UK. Mind you, given that the competition at the time largely consisted of serial junk peddlers such as Sinclair Radionics and Radio Exchange Ltd. this may not be as much of an accolade as it seems at first.

By the mid 70's the bottom had fallen out of the radio kit market and the company has moved into the manufacture of home and semi-pro audio kits, most of them done in association with English DIY electronics magazine Practical Electronics and were often quite good but they also had a line of amplifier modules intended to be built into small PA systems and musical instrument amplifiers that were of a somewhat indifferent quality although extremely cheap and the only product line that we know of that the company offered in both kit and fully built version, but the price meant that they were sometimes integrated into DIY home audio products and became peoples first "hi-fi" amp. There may also have been some manufacture of small PA systems or instrument amplifiers since we have seen such marked with the RTVC name.

The retail arm however had by the early 80's become primarily known as a supplier of smaller PA systems and DJ products and parts, but continued to sell new and used home audio products until the late 80's at the least. As sales of audio self assembly kits slowed down in the early/mid 80's their best selling kit became the PE Car Radio and other automotive audio products such as antenna boosters and so on, but prices of car audio products did not start to fall until the latter half of the 80's, so kits remained a value proposition somewhat longer than other CE products.

This coupled with the fact that the company sold a wide range of small loudspeaker drivers intended for TV's, small loudspeakers and other consumer electronics but eminently suitable as a low budget alternative to car audio loudspeakers meant that the store became increasingly known for their car audio line-up and had by the early 90's become more or less a car audio specialist. Disappears in the early/mid 1990's for reasons unknown.

Russco Electronics Mfg.
A California, USA based manufacturer of broadcast electronics run by and named after Russel Friend, initially best know for their turntable products although by the 80's it was better known for innovative niche products such as it's Telemate remote controlled mixers. The company appears to have started in the 50's and it technically still around but Mr. Friend is retired from manufacturing but still does a bit of support for his older products.

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The site was last compiled on Sun Nov 10 2013 at 9:15:00am