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HK Audio

by Kevin M. Mitchell • in
  • Company 411
  • July 2019
• Created: July 15, 2019

Steve Hendee of Yorkville Sound and Andreas Mayeryl of HK Audio celebrate the recent Yorkville/HK distribution deal.

Company Completes Yorkville Deal, Aims for North American Expansion

Andreas Mayerl knows a bit about HK Audio, as he’s approaching his third decade working for the respected German audio company. Prior to that, he worked for another distribution company, and among his tasks was working with Yorkville Sound, getting their products into Germany. Now his long relationship with Yorkville has gone to a new level, as Yorkville recently signed on to distribute HK Audio speakers in North America. “By teaming with Yorkville, HK Audio has found a partner with more than 55 years of experience distributing P.A. products in North America,” HK Audio’s CEO, Nils Stamer said in a recent press release. “Yorkville Sound has a vast dealer network, a highly experienced rep force and proven success with its own P.A. products.”

“For the last 20 years, HK Audio has become a name in Europe associated with high quality live sound reinforcement systems,” said Jeff Cowling, Yorkville Sound’s VP of sales & marketing. “Now we can offer our North American retailers the opportunity to work with all HK Audio brands, including the Lucas, Elements and Linear 3 lines that have made HK Audio renowned for pro audio excellence.”

The company boasts modern production at its factory in Germany, including this CNC machine that accurately cuts out speaker enclosure panels with absolute precision.

‡‡         A Distinguished History

The company was founded by brothers Hans and Lothar Stamer, who began producing their own loudspeaker cabinets in 1979 in a small shop in southwest Germany. The quality of the products led to a reputation for craftsmanship and performance, prompting expansion. Meanwhile, they also served as Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) to respected names in pro audio. Today, more than 200 people are based at the company’s facilities in St. Wendel, producing audio products that get shipped around the world. Mayerl, head of market development, started with the company as a product manager. His strong English language skills did not go unnoticed, and soon he was running the export part of the business. “In early 2018, we decided that if we really wanted to grow this company, we needed to focus on the U.S. market, and I was chosen to head it.” He acknowledges that they are coming to a crowded market later in the game.

But they have a history of success.

“HK has always had a strong following in Germany, and over the decades, our expansion into Europe was successful,” Mayerl says. He cites the mid-1990s as a particular boon for the company, when it released the R Series, which “had a particularly long-throw that was especially nice on big tours.” When line arrays came into fashion, they met that market demand not by following others, but by taking an independent route. The main concept the Cohedra compact, double-eight line array was to achieve a coherent dynamic response across the whole frequency spectrum, employing a double-10” subwoofer besides the 8” midrange and usual 1.4”-exit HF driver. While it sounded great and performed well also in the lower range, people didn’t see the typical 18” subwoofer and believed their eyes over the ears. “They would think it had no low-end because of that!” But that system made a crucial first step onto this continent, when it was adopted by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in 2010 and to this day is being used for performances at Cincinnati Music Hall and the Riverbend Music Center.

HK Audio speakers have been used by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra for nearly a decade

And HK Audio stands not only for large line arrays, but also for portable systems for musicians. “Our Lucas systems are doing really well in Europe,” Mayerl says. “These 2.1 systems surprise people as they see only the small satellites and are amazed how much bass we are getting out of a single subwoofer. Introduced in Europe in 1998, Lucas became almost what ‘Kleenex’ is to tissue paper,” he adds, noting that the recent version of that product, the Lucas Nano 608i, comes integrated with a complete digital mixer that can be controlled by an iPad.

The next big step for HK was 2010’s Elements line array. “It was our most successful system ever and is still selling well. We first entered the U.S. market in 2011with this system.” At the time, the company did that through a partnership with Korg, showing up in their booth at that year’s NAMM show. The debut went well, to say the least — PSAV took on the product for events. “They use it in the Disney Hotels in Florida, which was a pleasant surprise to me,” he says. “Now there are probably $180,000 worth of Elements in those conference and ballrooms.” Clients, he adds, really appreciate how easy it is to set up. “It is fully scalable, just click the elements together and build the system size that you need. Think of it a Lego for P.A. And the nice long-throw it has is unmatched by other speakers in that category. That’s a big advantage with smaller productions.”

The Linear 5 is also currently aimed at those same production companies. This series comes in a variety of “packs” — from Club to Rock to Big Venue. “This is another instance of HK wanting to create simple, easy-to-use packages. The Big Venue package and the LTS System especially make sense to me, as a lot of production companies are going to find it’s perfect for those local music festivals.”

But HK Audio doesn’t stop there. The latest introduction at last month’s InfoComm for the production company market is LINEAR 7. The most powerful models of the whole LINEAR range offer muscular Pascal Class-D amplification, FIR filtering, a state-of-the-art DSP platform (AllDSP), which is fully remote controllable and will also be Milan-ready (AVB). The DSP Out allows easy integration of a non-network-compatible powered speaker (such as an active LINEAR series enclosure) into the network and remotely control all its parameters. The L7 118 Sub offers easy cardioid setup.

Every speaker receives a final check at the plant before shipping.

‡‡         The HK Way

“The HK philosophy is to create the easiest way to achieve the best sound,” Mayerl states. “Many companies create great-sounding products, but those require trained people who are experienced pros. We try to create systems that are plug-and-play right out of the box — speakers that don’t require a lot of tuning.” Another aspect of the company he is proud of is that the products are still designed and manufactured in Germany. “We have our own people building these, and most of them have been with us for a long time. There is a lot of experience and knowledge on our shop floor. Our energy and pride goes into every product that comes out of there.” He adds that a lot of people in their facilities come from the production world and have run sound for a variety of situations. “Always the idea is, ‘can we make things a little better?’”

The company’s headquarters includes one of the world’s most sophisticated Class-1 acoustics labs. Here, the engineers can document and analyze the audio properties and dynamics of a speaker system in exhaustive detail. Also, “unlike other companies, we are very integrated and even do a lot of our own hardware and woodshop work.” The challenge is coming in at a competitive price point. “Once we figure out what and how to build it, we maximize the process into the most efficient way that will achieve the best product in the best way.”

They are efficient — and designed with an awareness of potential impact on the environment. State-of-the-art computer-controlled production lines create not only consistently high-quality levels, it also assures a clean and healthy work environment, Mayerl says. “With pollutant-free wood, water-based enamels and a stringent recycling/waste avoidance strategy, we carry our share of the responsibility for the state of our environment.

“If you ask me, the market has a changed a lot for speakers in the $1,000 to $1,800 range,” Mayerl continues. With clients like PSAV embracing them, the plan is for production companies of all sizes to make HK Audio speakers the go-to for the bread-and-butter events that those companies rely on. Now while the company has successfully made a place for itself in the larger line-array concert market in Europe and Asia, the plan is start at this level and work up to being able to make those available down the line as well.

For more information, visit www.hkaudio.com.

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