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|Founded||1936, James B. Lansing & All Technical Service Company|
|Headquarters||San Diego, California, United States|
|Key people||Brendon Stead (CO President)|
|Products||Consumer loudspeakers, headphones, in-ear monitors|
|Owner(s)||Infinity Lifestyle Brands|
Altec Lansing is an audio electronics company, which manufactures professional, home, automotive, computer, and multimedia audio products.
Founded in 1936, the company originally made horn loudspeakers. The Altec Duplex 600-series coaxial loudspeaker was popular for making studio monitors from the 1940s to the 1980s. The Altec "Voice of the Theatre" line of loudspeakers was widely used in movie theaters, concert halls, and also in rock concerts from the 1960s to the 1990s, such as custom designs used at Woodstock Festival.
The Altec brand was bought by James Ling in 1958. By 1974, the brand was saddled with too much debt and was operated under bankruptcy laws. In 1984, Gulton purchased the brand. The brand was bought in the mid-1990s by Telex Communications who held it until 2000 when it was bought by Sparkomatic.
Conception and early products
In 1930, AT&T's Western Electric established a division for the specific purpose of installing and servicing their loudspeakers and electronic products for motion picture use. Called "E.R.P.I." (Electrical Research Products, Inc.), it was purchased as part of a consent decree in 1936 by a group of E.R.P.I. executives, including George Carrington, Sr. and Mike Conrow. They changed the name to "All Technical Service Company".
The All Technical Service Company purchased the nearly bankrupt Lansing Manufacturing Company (named after its founder James B. Lansing) and melded the two names, forming the Altec Lansing Corporation on May 1, 1941. James Bullough Lansing went on to found the James B. Lansing Company (JBL), another manufacturer of high-quality professional loudspeakers, which competed with Altec Lansing. The first Altec Lansing power amplifier, Model 142B, was produced that same year.
Altec Lansing produced a line of professional and high-fidelity audio equipment, starting with a line of horn-based loudspeaker systems. First developed for use in motion picture theaters, these products were touted for their fidelity, efficiency and high sound level capability. Products included "biflex" speakers where frequency range was increased by a flexible "decoupling" of a small center area of the speaker's cone from a larger "woofer" area; the 604-series of coaxial speakers employed a high efficiency compression driver mounted to the rear of the 604's low-frequency magnet, and exited through a multicellular horn that passed through center of the woofer's cone.
Altec Lansing also made the Voice of the Theatre systems. The smallest of these, the A-7, used a medium-sized sectoral metal horn for high frequencies, which featured dividers (sectors) to provide control sound dispersion, plus a medium-sized wooden low-frequency enclosure, which functioned as a hybrid bass-horn/bass-reflex enclosure. The most often used Voice of the Theatre system was the A-4, many of which are still in use in motion picture theaters today. The efficiency of all of these products originally provided high sound pressure levels from the limited amplifier power available at the time. The original Voice of the Theatre series included the A-1, A-2, A-4, and the A-5. The A-7 and A-8 were designed for smaller venues.
The early products were revised and enhanced over time with the addition of rubberized speaker surrounds and other modern features. Altec Lansing produced very large custom loudspeakers for Bill Hanley to use at the Woodstock Festival in 1969. Some professional Altec Lansing products remained in use well into the 1990s.
Altec Service Co. and Altec Lansing Professional audio products
James Ling purchased the Altec Lansing Corporation from the ailing George Carrington, Sr., in 1958. By the time James Ling spun Altec Lansing off in 1974, his company, LTV-Ling-Altec, had heavy debts. In 1984, Gulton Industries, Inc., purchased the Altec Sound Products Division from the Altec Lansing Corporation, which was operating under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Included with the purchase were the tooling, parts and product inventories, distributor network, designs, patents, and assets of the Sound Products Division of Altec Lansing. The motion picture theater sound installation and repair business, Altec Service Co., the descendant of E.R.P.I., was sold to J. Bruce Waddell, then Head of Altec Service, and Robert V. Gandolfi, who was their Comptroller at the time. They established it as A.S.C. Technical Services in Richardson, Texas.
The Altec Lansing Corporation was formed by Gulton Industries as part of the purchase, and headquartered in Oklahoma City, the site of the University Sound factory built by Jimmy Ling when he moved there from White Plains, New York. Altec Lansing had relocated there prior to the Gulton purchase in an effort to reduce operating costs, selling their Anaheim, California facilities.
Altec Lansing Corporation produced professional audio products until 1995, when Telex Communications, who had purchased Altec Lansing's parent company, EVI Audio, Inc., in 1997, consolidated all of their electronics manufacturing facilities into one location in Minnesota.
Acquisition by Sparkomatic
In December 2000, Altec Lansing's Professional division was closed by Telex and the Altec Lansing Corporation was later sold to Sparkomatic and renamed Altec Lansing Technologies.
Professional line relaunched
The Altec Lansing Professional line was relaunched in April 2002 by Altec Lansing Technologies using former executives and sound engineers of the old Oklahoma City-based Altec Lansing Corporation, bringing Altec's professional and consumer products under the same roof for the first time since 1986. From 2002 Land Rover included Sparkomatic (Altec Lansing) speakers among its vehicle sound system offerings. The company later dropped the professional audio products and Altec Lansing Professional's Oklahoma City offices were closed in late 2006 and all remaining activities relocated to the Milford, Pennsylvania, headquarters.
Altec Lansing Technologies continues to expand
In 1996, Altec Lansing Technologies Multimedia established an R&D center in Kfar Saba, Israel. The center focused on advanced multimedia technologies such as USB audio, surround sound and wireless audio. The center was closed in 2001 and the development activities moved to the Milford PA headquarters.
In February 2004, Altec Lansing Technologies reissued a number of loudspeakers starting with the A7 Voice of the Theatre, manufactured in the US with some changes to the enclosure. Similarly, Altec Lansing Technologies reissued the 510, 508 and 305 loudspeakers.
Acquisition by Plantronics
On September 10, 2008, Altec Lansing Technologies changed its logo from a "whirlpool" to an abstraction of a multi-cellular horn.
Altec Lansing Technologies introduced their first line of earphones in 2003, including the inMotion brand Etymotic Exclusives, and later partnered with Ultimate Ears in 2006-2007 to introduce another line of newer in-ear monitors. Altec Lansing Technologies later discontinued signing contracts with other companies.
Partnership with Etymotic Research
Under the inMotion brand, Altec Lansing Technologies sold headphones that were created in partnership with Etymotic Research to be much like the ER-4 series headphones. The inMotion 716 and 616 looked and performed much like their Etymotic cousins but were marketed toward the average listener looking to replace their free bundled portable earbuds with higher-performance earphones. The eartips used were the same style as the ER-4 and ER-6 series with some minor adjustments to fit the iM716/616. The iM716 and im616 contained some Etymotic-made parts but were not identical to an ER-4.
Partnership with Ultimate Ears
In 2007, in partnership with Ultimate Ears and within the Upgrader Series of Altec Lansing Technologies earphone and headphone category, Altec Lansing Technologies launched the UHP306 (based on the Ultimate Ears MetroFi 2 and MetroFi 200) and UHP336 (based on the Ultimate Ears SuperFi 3 Studio). After acquiring the technology and parts from Ultimate Ears, Altec Lansing made further modifications to the designs.
In early 2009, Altec Lansing Technologies launched a new series of in-ear monitors called the "BackBeat Series", very similar to the 2008 models of Ultimate Ears MetroFi and at a similar price. Altec Lansing Technologies currently has five Backbeat Models: Backbeat Classic, Backbeat Plus, Backbeat Titanium, Backbeat Pro and a wireless add-on model called Backbeat 906.
Acquisition by Prophet Equity
On 1st October 2009 Altec Lansing Technologies announced that it was to be acquired by Prophet Equity for approximately 18 million dollars.
Move to San Diego
In July 2011, Altec Lansing Technologies announced the opening of new West Coast headquarters in San Diego, California. Brendon Stead joined as Vice President of Product Management and Engineering. Stead was formerly the General Manager and Vice President of Harman International and Labtec.
Partnership with ACS Custom
In January 2012, Altec Lansing Technologies formed a partnership with ACS Custom, a British manufacturer of high fidelity in-ear monitors aimed at professional musicians. ACS was established in 1994 as a company dedicated to hearing conservation and the manufacture of custom-fit products for hearing protection. In partnership with ACS Custom Altec Lansing Technologies currently manufactures three models of in-ear monitors: the A1, A2 & A3.
Acquisition by Infinity Lifestyle Brands
On October 18, 2012, Altec Lansing Technologies was sold for $17.5 million to the Infinity Group, which specializes in acquiring and turning around struggling or bankrupt consumer brands.
Altec Lansing Technologies Professional Division relaunched
In January 2013 at the Consumer Electronics Show Altec Lansing Technologies showed off some of its new consumer audio products and announced it would be relaunching its professional and high end home audio divisions.
- McGowan, Chris (November 15, 1980). "Sound Pioneers". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media) 92 (46): 42. ISSN 0006-2510.
- Evans, Mike; Kingsbury, Paul (2009). Woodstock: Three Days That Rocked the World. Sterling Publishing. p. 56. ISBN 1402766238.
- Plantronics to Acquire Altec Lansing, press release
- Official website
- Altec Lansing's Unofficial Homepage - Large library of vintage Altec literature.
- Altec Lansing User's Board - Discussion forum for users of vintage Altec Lansing products, including application techniques and other technical advice.
- Altec-Lansing Forum at Vintage Audio (Many classic scans)
- Altec Lansing History Another website with history and pictures of Altec Lansing.