The stats don’t lie. Music sales are up, streaming music services are occupying an increasing amount of web bandwidth and a format once given up for dead— vinyl—has risen from the ashes to eclipse sales figures not seen in decades.
Responding to meet the growing hunger for products that match the lifestyle considerations of users who are downloading, streaming and ripping physical copies of music is a new generation of products that facilitate those usage scenarios. A majority of these products are engineered with aesthetics and convenience in mind, but there are other manufacturers that are designing products with these traits in mind, as well as other traits such as quality and value.
In the world of high-performance consumer audio, North Carolina-based Cary Audio has established itself as one of the leading electronics manufacturers in the specialty and custom electronics markets. Back in the early 1990s the company launched its Audio Electronics Supply (AES) brand which was designed to provide gear enthusiasts a selection of reasonably priced, tubes and other parts; do-it-yourself (DIY) electronics kits and assembled versions of the preamplifier, amplifier and phono stage kits.
Products for All Music Lovers
Back in 2006 Cary folded the AES brand to better serve its core business which was and still is its Classic series two-channel solid state and tube products, and its Cinema Series of home theater components. Five years later however, the company reintroduced the brand as Audio Electronics (AE) with the goal of providing consumers with a choice of reasonably priced, high performance audio solutions that fit today’s lifestyles. Billy Wright, president and CEO of Cary Audio Design, explains the brand was relaunched to fill a void within the market. “Our decision to reintroduce the Audio Electronics brand was based on a number of factors that included a realization that with the current economic crisis, music lovers were looking for lower cost solutions that provided high value,” he says. “Over the past several years there has been a stream of off-shore, imported audio components that have been all about price and not about performance. Audio Electronics is about providing an alternative to these products. We are manufacturing true audiophile and music lover components with both performance and price as their key selling ingredients.”
Wright says the Audio Electronics line of products are engineered from concepts originating from the same philosophies the company employs for its Cary products, but through measures such as simplified exterior designs and less complex circuit design the company is able to maintain lower price points. He also emphasizes that Audio Electronics’ products are fresh design concepts and the company didn’t cut corners by offering stripped down versions of the Cary line. “The Audio Electronics products are designed from the ground up to sound and perform great while still maintaining the Cary Audio heritage,” he asserts. “We have made no sonic compromises in creating this line of products.”
AE Products are Readily Available
Another way that Wright is differentiating the Audio Electronics product line is through the way the products are distributed. Unlike the Cary Audio products which are available through a limited amount of authorized dealers, AE products can be purchased through the brand’s website, as well as authorized online resellers such as Music Direct, Audiogon and Amazon.
Audiogon says it partnered with Cary Audio to resell AE products to help generate interest in the services it offers by providing audiophiles with a choice of affordable, quality products. “In conjunction with Cary Audio, we felt that this particular manufacturer direct line would be a good fit to sell to the Audiogon community,” says Steve Clay, CEO of Audiogon. “Our goal for 2013 is to help support the industry by driving consumer enthusiasm and sales for both manufacturers and dealers throughout our marketplace and readership. We understand that supporting our members, manufacturers and dealers are key components to increasing the visibility of the high-performance audio industry.”
Another element that makes the AE products unique Wright says is that the products are made in the U.S. “Audio Electronics is designed and hand built in the Cary Audio factory in Apex, N.C. Designing and building these products in the U.S. keeps manufacturing jobs at home while providing audiophiles and music lovers a fantastic level of performance at import prices,” he says. “As a newer generation of music lovers realize there is more to music than just collecting and storing as many songs as possible, they are now discovering there is a vehicle to take their music to a new level of enjoyment with products like Audio Electronics. In addition, seasoned audiophiles may find their needs have changed either due to preference, finances or the downsizing of their [home] environments. Audio Electronics is meant to directly address these consumers with a series of products designed to be simple to operate, sound great and be more compact to fit into a contemporary lifestyle.”
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Bob is a dedicated audiophile who has been writing about A/V for Electronic House sister publication CE Pro since 2000.