The name of the ELAC company speaks for itself – Electroacustic, and today this company is one of the most famous and oldest manufacturers of speaker systems. However, the company has come a long way before producing the speaker systems themselves. The German company ELAC has a long history and time-tested tradition of maintaining the highest quality products. It all started in 1908, when Dr. Phil Hecht began research on the propagation of sound in aquatic environments and later joined the team that formed the future ELAC. Founded in 1926, the company initially worked in the field of hydroacoustics, only after World War II changing its specialization and starting to develop and produce audio products for home use.
The company focused on studying the propagation of signals in water and air. After the end of World War II, the company refocused on consumer needs. 248 workers (out of 5,000 people working at ELAC during the war) were engaged in the production of sewing machines and automobile components. A landmark product for that time was produced for Siemens – a radio receiver. It was the first successful step towards consumer electronics. All Siemens radios at that time came from the ELAC factory in Kiel.
Today ELAC is located in the small German city of Kiel. The production area occupies about 7000 sq.m., employing only 50 employees. All developments are carried out within the company itself. Currently, the company’s product range includes 12 main lines of speaker systems (not including subwoofers, built-in speakers, active, multimedia and other by-products, of which there are many). Moreover, only two budget models (50 and 60) are produced in China, the remaining 10 are entirely produced at the factory in Kiel. ELAC is one of the few manufacturers that still makes its own speakers, as well as crossovers. And almost no one has their own line for producing magnets for these speakers.
All components come from trusted suppliers, most of whom ELAC has been cooperating with for over 20 years. Manual labor with strict quality control is combined in production with the use of industrial robots and other high-tech equipment – the company is constantly developing and does not stand still. In addition to producing its own speakers, ELAC supplies its unique JET tweeter design to the production lines of such well-known High-End manufacturers as Burmester and Audiovector. Based on this technology and components, these manufacturers make their own version of the JET tweeter, installing it in their own products. Moreover, in the case of Burmester, this technology can be easily found in everyday life – in all Porsche cars with the optional Burmester audio system and Mercedes-Benz S-Klasse.
The company has extensive experience and history associated with acoustic developments, and has successfully applied them to the realities of the modern market, creating a unique product (speaker systems) for almost 30 years that will allow recordings to come to life in your system. It’s not for nothing that the company’s slogan sounds like “klang lebt”, which can be translated from German as “live sound”. The company already holds a huge number of patents, and ELAC engineers, being pronounced perfectionists, constantly continue to improve and develop new technologies that allow ELAC speaker systems to be at the forefront of Hi-Fi products.
History of ELAC.
1926 On September 1, Electroacustic GmbH was founded in the German city of Kiel. The company focuses on the development of hydroacoustic technologies and the study of signal transmission in air and water. 1945 After the end of World War II, the company changed its specialization, starting the production of consumer goods of urgent need, including sewing machines and auto components. Of the 5,000 employees, only 248 remain. ELAC also produces for Siemens a product that laid the foundations for future trends: the radio receiver. So, it was in 1945 that ELAC took its first step into consumer electronics. In 1948, the first vinyl turntable called PW1 was born. A year later, the company re-entered the marine segment. The hi-fi department and the marine development department developed simultaneously. Some time later, the company became one of the most famous in the consumer electronics segment and one of the leading manufacturers of vinyl turntables. By 1956, 90% of all turntables sold in the world were produced by three German companies: ELAC, Dual and Perpetuum Ebner.
1949 For the first time since the war, ELAC is allowed to work in the naval sector. The Hi-Fi and Marine divisions operate simultaneously. In the following decades, ELAC became a world famous manufacturer of consumer electronics and one of the leaders in the field of vinyl turntables. In the 90s, ELAC represented brands such as Sony, Fischer and Nakamichi on the German market, becoming their exclusive distributor. At the end of 1957, a stereophonic phono cartridge was released. Patent No. 1,105,628 was issued to ELAC for an “electromagnetic head for two-channel recording modulation.” This event revolutionized the entire recording industry and established ELAC as a leading manufacturer of phono cartridges. The technology was later licensed to many well-known companies, such as Shure. These and subsequent developments formed the basis of what is now called the MM system (moving magnet system). In 1978, the marine part of the company was sold to Honeywell. The Hi-Fi department is renamed ELAC Ingenieurtecknik. Development continues, and research in the field of industrial robots is also being added.
In 1981, the Munich company John & Partner Vetriebsgesellschaft mbH, a distribution and marketing company for Hi-Fi products, took over the sales and promotion of ELAC products. However, ELAC Ingenieurtecknik soon begins to experience financial problems. As a result, ELAC’s consumer electronics division is purchased by their Munich distributor – John & Partner Vetriebsgesellschaft mbH. In December 1981, a new company was formed – ELAC Phonosysteme GmbH. ELAC is engaged in the development and production of new products, the parent company John & Partner is in charge of its marketing and distribution. In 1984, ELAC included the loudspeaker manufacturer AXIOM Elektroakustik GmbH, located near Frankfurt and acquired by John & Partner. 1985 The development of the 4Pi omnidirectional tweeter allowed ELAC to break into the global elite of acoustics manufacturers. 1993 ELAC buys the rights to the JET tweeter design from the bankrupt Berlin company ARES. Since then, its device has been significantly modernized, and production methods have been optimized. JET tweeters are a unique feature and an integral part of many ELAC products. In the same year, the first mid- and low-frequency speakers with a diffuser in the form of an aluminum “sandwich” were presented – another ELAC know-how. In 1997, ELAC ceased production of phono cartridges and focused exclusively on loudspeaker systems, providing them with innovative drivers of its own design. In 1998, the parent company John & Partner Vertriebsgesellschaft integrated with ELAC Phonosysteme GmbH. The company ELAC Electroacustic GmbH appears, the name of which reflects the traditions and the original name of the company, born in 1926. The factory has its own magnet production line.
A couple of years later, in 2000, SCARA robots were installed in production, allowing for high-precision assembly of JET tweeters and ensuring not only a high level of quality, but also industrial quantities. At the same time, ELAC is developing so-called “exciters”, used as emitters for large surfaces, used to create “invisible built-in speakers” and in the automotive industry. In 2003, the technology invested in the JET tweeter reached a new level. And JET III sets new standards in the industry. Two years later, ELAC created a unique coaxial speaker, combining a JET tweeter and a midrange driver, which was called X-JET. At the same time, ELAC begins to produce woofers with LLD technology – titanium coils, large gaps and powerful neodymium magnets provide a dramatic improvement in sound. 2005 year. ELAC combines the JET tweeter and midrange driver into a single coaxial system called the X-JET. Low-frequency speakers made using LLD (Long Linear Drive) technology are also being released. Now the bass sounds new. A real hit is being released: the legendary 600th series of acoustics, the housings of which are made using hybrid technology from aluminum and MDF. 2008 ELAC enters the OEM segment for the automotive market, supplying speakers to leading German car manufacturers. For home acoustics, “crystal” low-frequency speakers are being developed, taking the sound of bass to the next level. In 2011, ELAC showed the world another innovation – the first adjustable coaxial speaker. Called VX-JET, it is able to move within the body, extending out of the front panel and sliding in, thus adjusting the number of waves emitted and their direction.
The company employs 65 people at its Schleswig-Holstein production site in Kiel and has 14 distribution branches. More than 35% of manufactured products are exported. In addition to the traditional markets of China, Japan and Taiwan, Elac supplies its products where the indication “made in Kiel” serves as an indicator of quality. In Germany, the company’s products are distributed only through dealers. The system of distributing equipment through EC contracts, which are ratified in Brussels, provides the necessary guarantees to the buyer. In other countries, Elac follows the same policy of distributing its audio equipment. The quality of Elac acoustics is ensured through close cooperation between the production department and the development center. Each stage of work is accompanied by appropriate testing, without which the product is not allowed to enter the next production cycle. The company also tries to provide a high level of warranty service for its products.