Altec Lansing

Altec Lansing

Altec Lansing is a line of professional, home, automotive, computer, and multimedia audio products beginning in 1936.

Some of the most famous products produced under the Altec Lansing brand name include "The Voice of the Theatre" (a series of professional loudspeakers for cinema applications created in 1947), and "inMotion", a line of portable speakers introduced in 2003 which was designed for the Apple iPod. In 2004, Altec Lansing filed for trademark registration in regards to their "inMotion" line and was later awarded registration for the name in 2008. Altec Lansing's Sound Products Division provided the loudspeakers for the Woodstock Festival 1969.

The current incarnation of the company, called Altec Lansing Technologies, is an OEM supplier to many computer makers such as Asus, Dell, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, and Gateway.

From ERPI to the All Technical Service Company to Altec Lansing

In 1928, AT&T's Western Electric established a division for the specific purpose of installing and servicing their loudspeakers and electronic products for motion picture use. Called "E.R.P.I." (Electrical Research Products, Inc.), it was purchased as part of a consent decree in 1936 by a group of E.R.P.I. executives, including George Carrington, Sr. and Mike Conrow. They changed the name to "All Technical Service Company".

The All Technical Service Company purchased the nearly bankrupt Lansing Manufacturing Company (named after its founder James B. Lansing) and melded the two names, forming the Altec Lansing Corporation on May 1, 1941 (James Lansing went on to found the James B. Lansing Company (JBL), another manufacturer of high-quality professional loudspeakers and a competitor of Altec. The two companies are not otherwise related.). The first Altec Lansing power amplifier, Model 142B, was produced that same year.

Altec produced a celebrated line of professional and high-fidelity audio equipment, starting with a line of highly efficient horn-based loudspeaker systems. First developed for use in motion picture theaters, these products were touted for their fidelity, extremely high efficiency and high sound level capability. Products included "biflex" speakers where frequency range was increased by a flexible "decoupling" of a small center area of a speaker's cone from a larger "woofer" area; the 604-series of coaxial speakers that employed a high efficiency compression driver mounted to the rear of the 604's low-frequency magnet, and exiting through a multicellular horn that passed through center of the woofer's cone (an updated version of this speaker is still being built today by Great Plains Audio in Oklahoma City using the original Altec tooling); and the large Voice Of The Theatre systems. The smallest of these, the A-7, used a medium-sized sectoral metal horn for high frequencies which featured dividers (sectors) to provide control sound dispersion, plus a medium-sized wooden low-frequency enclosure, which functioned as a hybrid bass-horn/bass-reflex enclosure. The most often used Voice Of The Theatre system was the A-4, many of which are still in use in motion picture theaters today. The high efficiency of all of these products was originally needed to provide high sound pressure levels from the limited amplifier power available at the time, but it was also found to contribute to overall sound fidelity due to the minimal induced levels of distortion contributed by the loudspeakers themselves.

The early products were revised and enhanced over time with the addition of rubberized speaker surrounds and other modern features. Altec speakers remained standard professional equipment well into the 1970s with 604s being the most common recording studio monitor loudspeakers and A7s standard loudspeakers for high-volume rock concert venues.

The original Voice Of The Theatre series of loudspeaker systems consisted of the Altec A-1, A-2, A-4, and the A-5. The A-7,and A-8 were designed for smaller venues.

Altec Service Co. and Altec Lansing Professional audio products

James Ling purchased the Altec Corporation from the ailing George Carrington, Sr., in 1958. By the time he spun them off in 1974, his company, LTV-Ling-Altec, had assimilated a large of amount of bad debts, and they went with the Altec Corporation (established in 1964) as part of the spinoff. By the early 1980s, Altec Corporation was having trouble servicing the LTV-induced debt. By 1984, Gulton, Inc., purchased the Altec Sound Products Division from the Altec Corporation, which was operating under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, due to difficulties paying off debts incurred when they were spun off by LTV Ling-Altec in 1974. Included with the purchase by Gulton was the tooling, parts and product inventories, distributor network, designs, patents, and assets of the Sound Products Division of Altec Lansing. The Altec Corporation continued to exist as an entity for several years thereafter. The motion picture theater sound installation and repair business, Altec Service Co., the descendent of E.R.P.I., was sold to J. Bruce Waddell, then Head of Altec Service, and Robert V. Gandolfi, who was their Comptroller at the time. They established it as A.S.C. Technical Services in Richardson, Texas.

The Altec Lansing Corporation was formed by Gulton as part of the purchase, headquartered in Oklahoma City, the site of the University Sound factory built by Jimmy Ling when he moved that company there from White Plains, New York. Altec Lansing had relocated there to prior to the Gulton purchase in an effort to reduce operating costs, selling their Anaheim, California facilities in attempt to retire their debts from the spinoff from LTV Ling-Altec in 1974.

Altec Lansing Corporation enjoyed a brief resurgence within the professional audio industry from the middle 1980s until 1995, when Telex, who had purchased Altec Lansing's parent company, EVI Audio, Inc., in 1997, consolidated all of their electronics manufacturing facilities into one location in Minnesota. By 1998, the original Altec Lansing was gone.

Sparkomatic acquires trademarks

In 2000, the Altec Lansing Professional division was closed by the Telex corporation and Altec Lansing Technologies (formerly Sparkomatic), purchased the rights to the following trademarks:

  • Altec
  • Lansing
  • Altec Lansing
  • Voice of the Theatre
  • Voice of the Highway
  • Duplex

The actual company called Altec Lansing was never sold by Telex/EVI.

Altec Lansing Professional makes brief return to market

The Altec Lansing Professional line was relaunched 2002 by Altec Lansing Technologies using former executives of the old Oklahoma City-based Altec Lansing Corporation, but it did not fare well. Reduced to being a supplier of off-shore built high-fidelity ceiling loudspeakers and associated electronics, Altec Lansing Professional's Oklahoma City offices were closed in late 2006 and all remaining activities relocated to the Milford, Pennsylvania headquarters.

ALT continues to expand

In 1996, Altec Lansing Multimedia established an R&D center in Kfar Sava, Israel. The center focused on advanced multimedia technologies such as USB audio, surround sound and wireless audio. The center was closed in 2001 and the development

Another Altec Lansing speaker. This one is designed for laptop and music-enabled mobile phone.

Acquisition by Plantronics

On July 11, 2005 Altec Lansing Technologies announced that it was to be acquired by Plantronics for approximately $166 million dollars.

Company Redesign

On September 10, 2008. Altec Lansing went through a Major company rebranding, where the Logo was redesigned from the "whirlpool" logo to the current logo based on the tip of a hat to the lines of a multi-cellular horn that Altec Lansing is proud of. The company's colors also changed from the traditional blue and white to gold and black.

In-Ear Monitors/Earphones

Altec Lansing introduced their first line of earphones in 2003, including the inMotion brand Etymotic Exclusives. Altec Lansing later Partnered with Ultimate ears as well in 2006-2007 to introduce another line of newer earphones. Altec Lansing Later discontinued signing contracts with other companies, and instead introduced their own designed earphones in 2008 to current date including Dynamic and Balanced Armatures within the product line.

Product lines include the inMotion Series-Etymotic Exclusive (2005), the Upgrader Series-Ultimate Ears Exclusive (2006), and both the Muszx and Backbeat Series introduced in 2009.

Partnership with Etymotic Research

Under the inMotion brand, Altec Lansing Technologies sold headphones that were created in partnership with Etymotic Research to be much like the ER-4 series headphones. The inMotion 716 and 616 looked and performed much like their Etymotic cousins but were marketed toward the average listener looking to replace their free bundled portable earbuds with higher-performance earphones. The eartips used were the same style as the ER-4 and ER-6 series with some minor adjustments to fit the iM716/616 such as color. The iM716 and im616 contained some Etymotic-made parts but were not identical to an ER-4.

Partnership with Ultimate Ears

In 2007, in partnership with Ultimate Ears and within the Upgrader Series of Altec Lansing's earphone and headphone category, Altec Lansing launched the UHP306 (based on the Ultimate Ears MetroFi 2 and MetroFi 200) and UHP336 (based on the Ultimate Ears SuperFi 3 Studio). After acquiring the technology and parts from Ultimate Ears, Altec Lansing made further modifications to the designs. Though the colour of the UHP306 and UHP336 vary from the Ultimate Ears model, many of the parts and much of the technology are alike.