Kalman Rubinson | Jan 8, 2018 | First Published: Jan 9, 2018
In May of 2016, Bowers & Wilkins (B&W) was sold to EVA Automation in a deal that included Classé Audio and the US distribution of Rotel Electronics. Since then, production and distribution of B&W and Rotel products has continued but not so for Classé. Initially, the new management announced that production and distribution of current products would continue but that all newly announced products, prototypes of which had been shown at the previous CEDIA, would be put on hold. However, in July of 2016, Classé operations in Montreal were shut down and all employees, including President Dave Nauber, were let go. Apparently, several efforts to sell to the company had failed.
Today at the CES in Las Vegas, it was announced that Sound United (Denon, Marantz, Polk Audio, Definitive Technology, Polk BOOM, HEOS, and Boston Acoustics) had acquired Classé Audio and that operations would be resumed under the leadership of Dave Nauber.
This looks like it will be an excellent marriage between Sound United’s existing range of products and technologies and an iconic high-end brand. It will give Sound United the opportunity to expand and to increase “its footprint in the consumer audio space.” Perhaps equally significant is that it will provide Classé Audio with access to product-sourcing and the kind of technological development, particularly in DSP and networking, that only a large entity like Sound United can offer.
Nauber says “it’s a great outcome from what was turning into a complete debacle” and that he is “beaming with optimism.” He is now busy reassembling the design team in Montreal but he will be at CES this week at Sound United’s suite at the Venetian Hotel.