HARMAN Luxury Update
Vice President and General Manager, HARMAN Luxury Audio
Hindsight is 20/20, and this year that phrase has a very special meaning to it. However, before we put the year 2020 into a well-deserved place in the rearview mirror, I wanted to reflect on what we accomplished together with you.
In January, the decade started out with Luxury Audio showcasing all our brands at CES 2020. We came home from that event tired, probably exposed to COVID-19 and with two prestigious CES Innovation Awards. In our dedicated theater at the Hard Rock Convention Center we showcased the first Award Winner, the JBL Synthesis SDP-55, our 16-Channel Immersive Audio Processor. That processor has quickly become one of the our top selling products. The other CES Award-winner was the Mark Levinson No5101 Streaming SACD Player, which was featured along with other Mark Levinson products driving the Revel F328Be speakers that began production that month.
In February, we packed our bags and flew to Amsterdam to participate at ISE 2020. Little did we know, but that would be the last tradeshow we would attend in 2020. Our JBL Synthesis Product Council meetings kicked off at ISE with a select group of dealers and distributors attending to share our future product concepts and initiatives. The output of that initial meeting carried over to subsequent virtual product council meetings with dealers from across the globe, which in turn led to the development of several of the products we were proud to announce earlier this month during the virtual CES 2021. We are committed to the continuation of this product council and we plan to host other product councils for Arcam, Revel and Mark Levinson in 2021. February also marked the production of the award winning Arcam SA30 Integrated Amplifier with streaming capabilities.
In March we were forced to close our engineering sites and cancel our business trips due to the ongoing spread of COVID-19. Even with our facilities locked down, our team continued to develop product concepts from their homes. We launched the JBL HDI series of products. We also learned how to develop stronger relations with our suppliers and our customers without meeting face-to face. Product launches continued, with initial production started for the Arcam Solo Uno streaming amplifier.
In April we started producing and sharing weekly supply chain updates on our products. This allowed for better communication between our dealers and their customers. We shared the news about the start of production of the JBL L82 Classic Speakers, which by the end of the year climbed into the Top 10 Best Sellers.
In May most of our engineers were granted access back to our sites which were updated to comply with the health guidelines set by our local governments. We learned never to take for granted the many tools that HARMAN provides us for developing world-class products like the JBL 4349 Studio Monitor.
In June, as the weather started warming up so did the economies of many of our customers. Summer flew by faster than any summer in recent memory. There were no local concerts or summer block-buster movies at theaters. Instead there were virtual concerts and first run movies airing on streaming services. Outdoor entertainment systems were becoming more relevant as they allowed people to get out of their homes again. We began production of the JBL Conceal Invisible Speakers.
In July we started production of the JBL 4349, which has been recognized by many as the best sounding studio monitor ever created by HARMAN Luxury Audio.
In August we finally started the production of the Mark Levinson No5101 Streaming SACD Player and the Arcam PA410 4 channel amplifier to complement the entire line of Arcam AVRs.
In September we saw an abbreviated college football season kick-off. Amidst concerns of a second wave of the virus taking control of our lives, we saw many schools remain closed. With continued resiliency, we found ways to launch products without a CEDIA EXPO. We won a “Best of CEDIA” Award for our Arcam ST60.
In October we held our first ever virtual product launch, Mark Levinson Reveals. At this LiveStream event we introduced the expanded line of our 5000 series products. We not only launched and started shipping our No5105 turntable, but we also introduced the No5206 preamplifier and No5302 Dual Monaural Power Amplifier.
Following on from the previous month’s Mark Levinson Reveals event, in November we launched the new Mark Levinson website and started production of the No.5206 Preamplifier and the No5302 Dual Monaural Power Amplifier. The Japan Audio Society awarded us several awards for the new Mark Levinson products and the JBL 4349 Studio Monitor.
Last month we celebrated the holidays away from our families but with the promise of a vaccine, which began to be rolled out in some countries, giving hope of a return to normal. 2020 is year that will always be remembered as the year that changed our lives and our industry. We learned a lot about how partnerships could be built and strengthened even without in-person meetings. We learned that music was a common bond for everyone and that it would take more than a pandemic to deter the product teams, engineers, sales teams and our customers from delivering great products and experiences when the world needed them the most.
Looking ahead, we are encouraged by the trends we are seeing from the industry. We have as many, if not more, products we will be introducing to our dealers this year. In another article in this newsletter you will learn about our green initiatives and how we plan to be better guardians of the planet we all live on. We are committed to being better business partners and improving on our commitment to quality and innovation.
Happy New Year.