Over the last several years, Indonesian-based Sinar Baja E lectric (see our factory tour article here) in partnership with Danesian Audio of Denmark, has generated an excellent reputation for the high-end home and car audio drivers that have been marketed under the SB Acoustics name.
However, the company has also been producing a rather extensive lineup of pro sound OEM products including 6.5" to 18" PA woofers, midranges, and compression drivers. Some of those drivers were simply created as projects for OEM customers, but the extensive experience accumulated over the years with the design and manufacturing of drivers for pro audio segments are also the result of Sinar Baja serving its own domestic market in Indonesia and neighboring markets in Asia.
But it gets a bit more complicated... The SB Audience drivers will be labelled PRObySB as well to highlight the commitment to the professional audio segment. And just like the SB Acoustics brand has the Satori line for the absolutely best products, SB Audience will also feature three other product lines that include Russo, the "high performance at an attractive price" range from SB Audience; Nero, the "highest performance" line; and Bianco, the "good performance at the lowest cost" product line.
The company submitted one of those new products, from the new SB Audience range, for the Test Bench published in May 2019, the 44CD-K compression driver from the new Russo model line. And, as we've learned from visiting the factory, these are not just marketing terms. They do have huge implications in how drivers are manufactured as well as the tooling, optimization, etc.
That's precisely why I sat down with Bo Albrechtsen, Director of Sales and Marketing for SB Acoustics, to discuss all the company's plans and learn a little more about all the new products - because they are coming out faster than we actually have time to count them (much less write about them...)!
Basically, Albrechtsen explained that, as SB Acoustics became a strong brand for drivers in the hi-fi segment, the thought was to create two new segments with SB Audience for pro drivers with the sub-brand PRObySB. "As you know, we have been in the pro audio business for decades and we supply a lot of drivers for OEM clients. Now we want to be able to promote those pro drivers with our own brand. Meanwhile, we have hired Mark Thomsen as International Sales & Marketing Manager, to handle the pro audio segment.
"Next in line for us is to promote the SB Automotive drivers for the automotive aftermarket - where again, we already supply a lot for OEMs. "Those are the three business segments, with sub-brands and product names that start with Nero, Rosso, and Bianco, from top products to midrange and price/performance.
audioXpress (AX): We get it. SB Acoustics is the brand for the hi-fi market, with Satori as a sub brand. SB Audience addresses the professional market, and below there is PRObySB as a sub-brand. But why?
Bo Albrechtsen (BA): Very few people know that SB comes from "Sinar Baja," and SB is now already widely recognized. The reason we have created the brand SB Audience and the sub-brand PRObySB is that over time we will have another sub-brand to cover the installation and architectural type of solutions, which we have not created yet. Many of those installation products could very well originate from hi-fi drivers. It really doesn't matter. But those will be products dedicated and specified for those applications.
Personally, I prefer to call those segments, rather than sub-brands... Within a month we are going to launch about 60 pro sound drivers that will be available worldwide - and those are already a selection of what we are already producing, including with our own brands for Indonesia - a selection of only the best. We are doing that mostly with different distributors.
AX: Will some pro audio products be also "Designed in Denmark, Manufactured in Indonesia," like the current SB Acoustics?
BA: SB Acoustics will always be 100% engineered in Denmark. Always. These new segments will be both a mix. But all the experience and the engineering power on the pro audio side is today in Indonesia. The engineering team there certainly has the skills to upgrade the performance and we are going to use it. We already started projects where we upgraded some of our products and that we will be addressing at a high level, like Beryllium compression drivers for the pro market.
We sent some of those drivers to Vance [Dickason] for testing, and all were designed and engineered in Indonesia. The overall feedback I got from him was that our drivers "are high-performing and the build quality is Italian level." I couldn't be happier, because that's what we were looking for. And Vance has an overall feeling about what is going on, so we think we are doing things right.
AX: You mentioned 60 new products. What is the release schedule?
BA: We really want to push all the new pro drivers to the market as soon as we have all the documentation ready. We have started the dialog with distributors - US Speaker will be representing us in the United States and they are very happy with what they have seen so far - and the launch schedule right now depends more on signing up the complete dealer network. We are ready to supply drivers and we hope to have the official introduction to the market before the end of the year.
AX: What will be the competitive angle for SB Audience?
BA: We benchmark our products in-house against all the top competitors and we feel we have the level. We will compete in price/performance ratio at all levels. And the lower we go, the much more competitive. Of course, our top Nero products will get closer to the leading brands out there.
We have all the products - 60% of our overall business in all our factories was already pro audio. It's a matter of promoting it and sell them worldwide.
Time will tell, but we can still step up the development as well. All we are going to show now is 100% Indonesian and we are already at level. Imagine what we can do with something completely new!