CEDIA 2019: Vanco Hits the Audio Accelerator as It Cruises Down Beale Street

Randy Blanchard and Mark Corbin of Vanco
Vanco’s Randy Blanchard (l) and Mark Corbin (r) were excited to show me new Beale Street Models [Click to enlarge]

Don’t let those smiling faces fool you…these guys are deadly serious about taking more than their fair share of the audio market. And the vehicle they’re using to drive that growth is Beale Street Audio, a brand that Vanco acquired about two years ago. From what they told me – and showed me – at this year’s 2019 CEDIA Expo in Denver, they are well on their way.

See more on Beale Street, including new models…

I first told you about Vanco’s plans for Beale Street Audio in a report from last year’s CEDIA Expo. Company President Mark Corbin had acquired the Beale Street brand and hired audio expert Randy Blanchard (the former head audio guy at distribution powerhouse ADI) to help him put together a serious, growth-oriented business plan for the brand. The goal at last year’s show was to stake their claim that an all-new Beale Street Audio had arrived.

It was not necessarily going to be a cakewalk. Beale Street had a troubled history under its previous management. Without going into a lot of detail, let’s just say that the previous ownership’s inconsistencies left Vanco with a lot of additional ground to make up. To use a football analogy, Vanco wasn’t starting at the fifty yard line, they were starting on their own ten yard line.

On a Spectacular Run

But Vanco says the brand has had a spectacular run since that point. Sales, Banchard told me, were up fully 80% over the previous year on a year-to-date basis. This fact alone, they felt, was evidence that Beale Street Audio under the guidance of new owners/managers was in fact the opportunity they had initially believed it to be.

Vanco booth at CEDIA Expo 2019
Vanco booth with Beale Street Audio at CEDIA Expo 2019 [Click to enlarge]

“I love the product…I love Vanco…but I didn’t love the business model [pursued by the previous ownership].”

Randy Blanchard

Vanco’s Stellar Reputation Helped

One factor that helped to stabilize the Beale Street brand was simply Vanco’s stellar reputation of fair dealing, reliability, and full commitment to selling only through distributors. That fact alone caused many distributors to almost instantly spin 180-degrees from a position of pulling back…to one of growing their support for Beale Street products. Previously, Beale Street had a poorly defined distribution strategy that had them selling directly to dealers and also selling to distributors…to sell to dealers. This was confusing and caused some channel conflict.

Throughout its history, Vanco has always remained firmly committed to a distributor-only sales model – so their sales network plan was crystal clear. The company enhanced that commitment by taking steps to mitigate sales of the Beale Street products on the Internet. This strategy helps to protect their distribution network and eliminates one of the biggest objections that many integrators have with CI brands – they feel online sellers are unfair competition.

Did Vanco ‘Buy’ Growth by Discounting Beale Street Products?

I asked Mark Corbin if the company had felt pressured to promote the brand by cutting the prices of Beale Street products to drive sales. Did you, I asked, essentially buy that 80% sales growth by discounting the products and hurting your margins? Not at all, he assured me. “Actually, we’ve increased Beale Street prices – and in the process improved margins to our channel,” Corbin told me.

This year, Vanco surprised everyone by launching no fewer than a total of 18 new Beale Street and Pulse Audio products – this includes 7 new Beale Street models. It is an impressive roster of new products that looks to “put the pedal to the metal” for the company as it seeks even further growth in audio.

Here Are the New Beale Street & Pulse Audio Models I Saw at CEDIA

Beale Street Audio speakers feature a time-tested, well-known concept which is a vented transmission line they call Sonic Vortex. This helps deliver a deep, well-defined bass without the need for a large enclosure. Here then are the new Beale Street Audio and Pulse Audio models I saw at CEDIA Expo 2019:

Executives show new Beale Street Audio models at CEDIA Expo 2019
Vanco’s top executives show me a display of many of the all-new Beale Street Audio models introduced at the 2019 CEDIA Expo

Beale Street Audio In-Room Subwoofers – (Seen on the floor in the above image.) Taking full advantage of all the benefits that its Sonic Vortex technology offers, Vanco has launched two new Beale Street in-room subwoofers that may be small in stature, but are big in low-frequency sound. The BPS-65 and BPS-80 offer a 6.5-inch and 8 inch Kevlar woofer respectively, a massive 250 watt power amp, 4 ohm impedance, and a sensitivity of 90dB. They have line level and speaker level inputs, adjustable phase and crossover points, audio signal sensing, and more.

Beale Street In-Wall LCRs – (Seen at the top of the display in the picture at the beginning of this section.) Vanco has cleverly engineered a set of LCRs that measure 14.5″ tall. Why is that an important measurement? Because that means you can flip one – say, to use as a center channel in a horizontal configuration – and it will cleanly fit between the studs in the wall. The IWLCR4-MB and IWLCR4-BB are full-range left/center/right channel speakers with dual 4-inch drivers and are only 4-inches deep for installation flexibility. The “MB” version features a green-ribbed, injected polypropylene woofer and 1-inch aluminum dome tweeter; the “BB” step-up version adds a carbon fiber woofer and 1-inch titanium tweeter with wider frequency response.

Both versions of the LCRs incorporate Beale Street’s Sonic Vortex technology for a 6-9 dB increase in low frequency performance without the need for a large back enclosure. Both models also include 6-ohm impedance, 92 dB sensitivity, power handling of 5 watts – 120 watts, and gold speaker terminals.

New Beale Street Audio IP addressable amplifiers
New Beale Street Audio amplifiers BAV4250 (top) 4 x 250 and BAV2500 (bottom) 2 x 500. These are IP addressable with clean and powerful browser -based UI [Click to enlarge]

Beale Street 1,000 watt Amplifiers – The company showed two new amplifiers that look like real workhorses, the BAV2500 and the BAV4250. Both of these amps are 1,000 watts in total power – the BAV2500 is 2 x 500 watts; the BAV4250 is 4 x 250 watts. Both have front panel displays which facilitates full control of the unit.

Screenshot of BAV4250 UI setting output configuration
You can set each zone for any combination of 8-ohm/70v/100v [Click to enlarge]

But what I really liked is the fact that these amps are IP addressable with a browser-based UI (User Interface) that was clean, simple, but robust. These amps are designed to be used in either residential or commercial installations thanks to the fact that they are switchable between 8-ohms/70-volt/100-volt.

UI showing matrix and zone volume settings
On this screen, you can easily set any input to any zone thanks to the UI’s matrix (left), set zone volume (center), and have zone input/output level visibility (right) [Click to enlarge]

With your tablet or laptop running a browser, it is amazingly easy to set the built-in matrix to assign any input to any output/zone (including any of the 4-zones in the 4250), set zone levels and review input/output signal level meters, you can independently assign each output or zone as 8-ohm/70-volt/100-volt, set a high-pass filter and modify bass/treble tonality per channel, use a digital parametric equalizer to more precisely fine tune the sound, and more.

On this screen you can set a high-pass filter, zone tonality, and a limiter
On this screen, integrators can set a high-pass filter, zone bass/treble adjustment, and even a volume limiter thanks to the simple and straightforward UI [Click to enlarge]

These amps look like they could be real workhorses that an integrator can rely upon in almost any system configuration they encounter.

The UI includes a parametric equalizer for even finer frequency adjustment
On this screen, integrators can really precisely fine tune the sound with this fully adjustable parametric equalizer [Click to enlarge]

Pulse Audio Commercial Amplifier – Blanchard also showed a very neat little 40-watt commercial amplifier that might just be the perfect solution for any integrators toolbox. The PAV140 is a 40-watt, 70/100-volt amplifier with just the right combination of features and power to address about 80% of the light commercial market that many residential integrators serve. It would be just perfect for that local coffee shop or restaurant with plenty of power and a microphone input for paging capability.

Front panel of the Pulse Audio PAV140
This mighty mini, the Pulse Audio PAV140, is a perfect solution for your local coffee shop, restaurant, or other light commercial installation that many residential integrators serve. [Click to enlarge]

The PAV140 features 2 stereo analog inputs and 1 digital input; a 3-level mic input (for dynamic/condenser/wireless mics) with audio ducking; IR and RS232C control; and a large front-panel volume control with switching to easily adjust volume, bass, treble, and mic level. With 16 ID codes, integrators can easily daisy-chain and control up to 16 PAV140s in a more extensive installation.

A photo of the back panel of the Pulse Audio PAV140
Here you see the back panel of the Pulse Audio PAV140 [Click to enlarge]

That’s a lot of flexibility in a small box…all at an affordable $324 MSRP price point.

Beale Street Audio Pendant Enclosures – Vanco has come up with a clever way to customize pendant speakers by designing enclosures in which Beale Street Audio in-ceiling speakers can be mounted to create a pendant speaker. (Origin Acoustics took a similar step at CEDIA as well.) But these enclosures are more than meets the eye.

New Beale Street Audio Pendant enclosures
New Beale Street Audio Pendant enclosures, turn your favorite Beale Street in-ceiling Sonic Vortex speaker into a hanging pendant speaker, suitable for indoor or outdoor placement [Click to enlarge]

Thanks to an IP-44 rating, the new pendant enclosures are weather and water resistant – making them perfect for either indoor or outdoor installations. Versions are available in two different sizes to accommodate 4-inch, 6.5-inch, and 8-inch Beale Street models with Sonic Vortex big bass technology. Available in either black or white, they are fully paintable to perfectly match any environment.

Most of the new products shown by Vanco at CEDIA Expo 2019 will be available in just a few weeks.

Turbo-Charging Audio Category Growth

The combination of distributors selling more of the existing line, with a tidal wave of new products rolling out and addressing new market segments, means that Vanco’s growth in audio should further accelerate. In fact, this should turbo-charge their growth.

Corbin also told me they have made many upgrades to the Beale Street line.

“We’ve moved to higher-end crossovers, an improved overall design, and even upgraded the mounting dogs [on in-ceiling/in-wall models].”

Mark Corbin, President of Vanco

Dealers will undoubtedly notice this continual product upgrade for superior performance and salability. Corbin and Blanchard also reminded me that Vanco continues to do 100% QC on all products in their Chicago facility.

“And nobody else is doing that,” Blanchard roared.

Learn more about Beale Street Audio by visiting: getbeale.com.

See Beale Street and all of the products that Vanco offers at: vanco1.com.

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