Fender Musical Instruments Corporation--known to most as the legendary guitar company "Fender"--has decided to enter the headphone world, and, to me, that's big news in itself. What makes this story even more significant in our little part of the world is that Fender decided to get into the business of headphones by acquiring Aurisonics, the Nashville-based specialty maker of custom-fit and universal-fit in-ear monitors (IEMs) founded by Dale Lott, and known to many of our community members here.
In the recent past we've seen Gibson (another famous guitar brand) buy Onkyo (which bought Pioneer Home Entertainment)--and also recently bought Philips' audio, video, multimedia, and accessories business--in huge, large-scale deals that headphones were parts of. For Fender, though, this was all about headphones, and saw them seeking out a boutique manufacturer who developed, made, and sold nothing other than headphones.
For those of you here not familiar with them, Aurisonics is a small, sophisticated headphone manufacturer whose customer base is comprised of a solid mix of professional musicians/performers and, of course, diehard headphone audiophiles. Aurisonics was a regular at Head-Fi meets and events in the past several years. Aurisonics, and its founder Dale Lott, have been very genuine members of our community, and I'm thrilled for them that such a renowned name in the music world saw enough value in the types of products that thrill this community to acquire Aurisonics.
When Dale called me to tell me about the deal, he was beyond excited about it. He said:
"I wouldn’t have done it if it didn’t make sense. From our earliest days we’ve been positioning ourselves to serve musicians. Finding a market among audio fanatics has been welcomed, but being acquired by the biggest name in the music industry is the right marriage--it's authentic to both our brands. It's kind of surreal, in a way, the little company I started in the basement five years ago is now part of one of the biggest companies in the music industry. It’s just crazy!”
Fender will be coming to market with five new in-ear monitor models:
- The Fender DXA1 Pro, priced at $99, has a custom 8.5mm titanium micro dynamic driver.
- The Fender FXA2 Pro, priced at $199, uses a custom 9.25mm rare-earth dynamic driver and mechanically tuned bass port.
- The Fender FXA5 Pro, priced at $299, is of particular interest to me, as it is Dale Lott's first design using all balanced armature drivers (two of them).
- The Fender FXA6 Pro, priced at $399, uses their HDBA (Hybrid Dynamic & Balanced Armature) Array, with a single balanced armature tweeter and a custom 9.25mm dynamic driver, in a design that doesn't require a crossover, and is mechanically tuned and ported.
- The Fender FXA7 Pro, priced at $499, also uses their HDBA Array, with dual balanced armature tweeters, and the custom 9.25mm dynamic driver, with mechanical tuning and porting.
Here are some photos Dale just sent me from NAMM (where the launch is happening):
More information to follow below.