Legendary hi-fi veterans that have stood the test of time
Some businesses have changed hands or been raised from the dead, while others have remained relatively unaffected. Regardless of their path, all are still producing excellent hi-fi products today. That is something to be proud of.
The iconic turntable purveyor actually began manufacturing music boxes, clock movements, and Edison-style phonographs at the turn of the nineteenth century - some decades before the period of the record player would launch the brand to world-renowned prominence.
Hermann Thorens founded the company in Sainte-Croix Vaud, Switzerland, in the late 1920s and went on to become one of the most respected producers of record players in the 1950s and 1960s.
Many prominent models, such as the TD 124, TD 150, and TD 160, to name a few, contributed to that reputation. The Thorens TD 160HD turntable we evaluated in 2008 made our list of the absolute greatest turntables of all time.
The company declared bankruptcy in 2000 before being resurrected by Swiss businessman Heinz Rohrer and, later, by former Elac Electroacoustic managing director Gunter Kürten in 2018. Thorens has a variety of decks in circulation today, including the TD 1600 and TD 1601, both of which are based on the traditional TD 160 design.
Manufacturer of cartridges Ortofon, a combination of the Greek terms "orto" (correct) and "fon" (sound), originated as a totally different beast.
Following World War I, two engineers, Axel Petersen and Arnold Poulsen began efforts to synchronize sound and picture on film, which they accomplished in the early 1920s with their 'Petersen and Poulsen System.'
During WWII, the team used their technological know-how to assist develop a new cutter head for the phonograph industry, a cutter head that record firms all over the world quickly accepted. Following that was a mono pickup (or cartridge) and pickup arm, allowing records cut with the improved head to be replayed with adequate audio quality.
Various mono cartridge variants hit the market, and the first stereo cartridge debuted in 1959. The rest, as they say, is history. Ortofon is today one of the most recognized and celebrated turntable cartridge producers, having been in business for almost 100 years.
Celestion is well-known in the guitar world for its decades of producing guitar speakers, but the British company also had a significant impact on the hi-fi business. Celestion, founded in 1924 by Cyril French (who was later joined by two of his brothers), developed one of the world's first cone loudspeakers based on Eric Mackintosh's design.
In the decades that followed, the firm established itself as a pioneering manufacturer of speaker drivers. In the 1960s, it produced drivers for the iconic B&W P1 and Spendor BC1 speakers, and, despite many acquisitions and name changes (Celestion's history has been nothing short of a roller coaster! ), the company continued to produce award-winning designs, such as the ribbon tweeter.
Celestion was sold in 1992 to Kinergetics Holdings UK Ltd, the firm under which it and KEF continue to operate.
Bang & Olufsen (1925)
In the mid-1920s, engineers Camillo Bang (the tech guy) and Svend Olufsen (the business guy) made the shift from dabbling with building radios in their parents' houses to a legitimate electronics business.
Its first commercially available product was the B&O Eliminator, which allowed radio to be powered by the mains rather than the massive batteries that were the norm at the time.
The company outgrew the family house in the 1930s and moved into a purpose-built factory in Struer (where it still operates today), at which time the B&O we know and love today began to show its stylish face.
It launched the Beolit radio in 1939, launching both a successful line of radios and the famous 'Beo' prefix, which is still widely used today. With the 17-inch Beovision Capri TV, the company quickly expanded into TVs, record players, and speakers.
It wasn't long before its offering became as versatile as it is today.
Post by Bryan C.