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Thread: Where did the sound reinforcement business go?

  1. #1
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    Where did the sound reinforcement business go?

    For a few years now, evertime I see a concert, the flown cabs do not appear to be JBL stuff but rather the small-type cabs that the French firm (L-Accoustics???) makes. I realize that JBL's focus is "car software" now, but I would be interested in knowing how in the world this happened. Is sound reinforcement a low margin business? Did L-Accoustics get this business because they inovated and JBL did not? Is JBL unable to compete in this business because of higher costs? Until recently [Trump], the US Tax Code had the highest tax rates so perhaps this drove manufacturing offsore, so maybe this was the biggest factor.

    No flames - retired CPA here.... ...just wondering how it happened and perhaps your thoughts on whether the glory days are just a memory. Maybe, another private equity transaction would result in spinning off the sound business?? Seems like the current management has no interest. Why is that?




  2. #2
    Senior Member gdmoore28's Avatar
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    I'm not in the ProSound industry anymore, so take my input as the best guesses I have based on what I saw years ago.

    The concert sound industry is very competitive and the people doing concert level SR require lots of personal involvement with people who have been where they are and know the rigors of that environment. IOW, they demand much more support than simply the ability to sell them equipment.

    Gear is widely available from many sources, but companies devoted exclusively to big league SR are much fewer. But these companies are able to custom-build at the drop of a hat, do custom orders readily, and eager to send representatives on the road to troubleshoot problems.

    Simple answer: JBL is not committed to that challenge. Likely, they simply can't be because of their size and structure. So, they concentrate on the mass market where they've carved a very large niche. No personal involvement required.

    GeeDeeEmm

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    JBL Vertec arrays are very popular and quite numerous in the SR field. However, companies like D&B, L'Acoustics and a whole host of others got in the game when line arrays became popular about 25 years ago...I bleed JBL blue, but D&B has magic in their crossovers, and L'Acoustics had the first line arrays that really worked. As to where they SR companies went, it is nearly impossible to compete with companies that have long standing reputations and clients. It's not uncommon for a company to send out a system and lose money to keep the employees employed until the big paying clients come back around for their next tour.

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    Colleagues,

    It would appear that JBL may be headed down a similar road as Altec was 50 or so years ago. A parent company that did not know or understand what it had, and management that was totally unaware and therefore incometent. It doesn't feel very good to watch a company that has been on the forefront of of audio innovation and performance for over 60 years and given all of us here a lot of audio pleasure headed for disaster because of some boneheads, who now call the shots. Let's hope the rectal-cranial inversion they are suffering from doesn't last much longer.

    I fear the trend may be irreversible.
    KEEP ON LISTENING!

  5. #5
    Senior Member rdgrimes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Kreamer View Post
    It doesn't feel very good to watch a company that has been on the forefront of of audio innovation and performance for over 60 years and given all of us here a lot of audio pleasure headed for disaster because of some boneheads, who now call the shots. Let's hope the rectal-cranial inversion they are suffering from doesn't last much longer.
    They way this goes is the boneheads bleed the JBL Pro business dry, destroy it, then sell off the brand to someone else and move on.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Ian Mackenzie's Avatar
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    I think you will find the industry has changed because the client and their business has changed.

    Big touring bands and those rigs are only one aspect or segment of the business

    Live music in venue or clubs are still around but my impression is they have large in house systems. Many of them are custom designed for the venue. That is all about the local Installers, venue architects and the relationships distribution have in the field.

    I while back Jbl all but stopped distributing components and l think their custom shop disappeared .

    I think the problem is distribution. If your Jbl and your not number one who are you? The local pro distribution recently changed after 30 years (Jands).

    There are still other big players in the loudspeaker transducer business like RCF, Precision Devices, 18Sound , B&C and others making 21 inch Neo bass drivers.

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    Senior Member RMC's Avatar
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    Hi Robert,

    The reality is you see less JBL PA/SR market dominance or exposure than before because there's a lot more other manufacturers in this business, than in the old days. More competition means JBL is diluted in the market.

    Plus in the PA/SR business it often works with partnerships between manufacturer/Sound contractor.

    Take for example Solotech, Canada's largest. In the past they were a major JBL provider. Today, even though they still sell just about every brand requested, they put forward on their Web site or push some brand names like the following: Yamaha and Digico mixing consoles, Meyer Sound and L-Acoustics speakers, Shure microphones. Sound contractors listen to business "proposals" wanting to "buy" market share.

    Manufacturers likely provide incentives to sound contractors for using and/or pushing their brand. And this is a large investment required in equipments or money in view of the number of contractors. Dealer gear cost is another aspect of this. This is also related to equipment financing provided and the terms of it.

    Bottom line, PA/SR is a business and it too needs to make money... Large sound contractors need to be "seduced" by manufacturers in order to put a brand forward. And the latter decide where they want to invest their money, likely where the margins are better.

    Usually, selling to consumers (retailing) is easier and more profitable (margin wise) than selling wholesale to initiated or knowledgeable purchasers who compare offers...

    Richard

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    Senior Member DavidF's Avatar
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    Seems a bit rash to take a casual observation and jump to the conclusion that Rome is burning. True enough competition is always moving forward in a growing industry. Growth always opens opportunities. You really have to point to some data to get a sense of what is going on.
    David F
    San Jose

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    Administrator Robh3606's Avatar
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    FWIW I do a lot of small club NYC shows and between new clubs and upgrades I have seen at least half dozen places either open or upgrade. Of those half were JBL so they may not be doing a lot touring but their permanent installs seem to be doing OK. At least in this area it seems

    Rob
    Last edited by Robh3606; 06-26-2018 at 07:26 PM.
    "I could be arguing in my spare time"

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    Administrator Robh3606's Avatar
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    At Govt Mule Jones Beach Vertec

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  11. #11
    Senior Member gdmoore28's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robh3606 View Post
    FWIW I do a lot of small club NYC shows and between new clubs and upgrades I have seen at least half dozen places either open or upgrade. Of those half were JBL so they may not be doing a lot touring but their permanent installs seem to be doing OK. At least in this area it seems

    Rob
    That's true in my area, as well. JBL seems to have the club and church markets well in hand. My church has a JBL line array/subs system that is just killer.

    GeeDeeEmm

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