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Sound United Announces Acquisition of Classé Audio

by January 08, 2018
Sound United Purchases Classe

Sound United Purchases Classe

Leading Audio Company Continues to Combine Powerful Brands to Grow Global Scale, Increase Resources and Invest in Innovation

 Sound United LLC, parent company to Denon®, Marantz®, Polk Audio®, Definitive Technology®, Polk BOOM®, HEOS®, and Boston Acoustics®, today announced it has acquired Classé Audio, a leading maker of high-performance music and theater components. Classé Audio will join the Sound United family of brands, representing some of the most renowned names in the industry. Through this acquisition, Sound United will continue to drive its global growth and recognition, spearheading innovation in the category and increasing its footprint in the consumer audio space.

Classé Audio’s suite of high fidelity amplifiers, pre-amplifier processors and integrated amplifiers are designed for movie and music enthusiasts who appreciate sound quality, beauty and elegance above all. Classé Audio was previously owned and distributed by Bowers & Wilkins.

Acquiring Classé Audio demonstrates Sound United’s continued focus on catering to our customers, who crave performance and innovation,”

said Kevin Duffy, CEO of Sound United.

“This acquisition opens opportunities to capitalize on new markets and niches within the high-end audio community, continuing Sound United’s evolution as a premium player. We look forward to partnering with the talented management team of Classé Audio to grow the combined business and bring our expanded capabilities to our employees and customers.”

Classé Audio’s President, Dave Nauber, who will continue to lead the Classé Audio brand at Sound United, added, “We’re overwhelmingly pleased Classé Audio is joining Sound United’s respected family of brands. With a strong resurgence of the audiophile community, and Sound United’s existing synergy with the recently purchased D+M Group, we’re confident our overall market positioning as a premium option will only strengthen. Ultimately, this is an excellent opportunity for Classé employees, customers and strategic partners to bring our energy and ideas to the forefront.” 

About Sound United
Sound United is a division of DEI Holdings with an award-winning portfolio of audio brands that deliver industry-leading home theater and personal audio listening experiences for a wide-range of consumers. Each brand provides an expansive array of audio products that includes high-end and custom installation audio, to mid-tier markets that cover loudspeakers, sound bars, AV receivers, wireless multi-room music systems, Bluetooth® speakers, amplifiers, turntables and headphones.

Dedicated to artfully reproducing audio for listeners and enthusiasts around the world, Sound United comprises Denon®, Marantz®, Polk Audio®, Definitive Technology®, Polk BOOM®, HEOS® and Boston Acoustics®. Each brand offers a unique approach to bringing home theater and music to life. Whether it’s through the legendary heritage of Denon, the classic sound of Polk Audio, the premium performance of Definitive Technology, the highly sought-after amplification of Marantz, the action-inspired form factors of Polk BOOM, the wireless home audio solutions of HEOS or the accessible performance of Boston Acoustics, Sound United is your sound — so listen.

Sound United is a portfolio company of Boston-based private equity firm Charlesbank Capital Partners, LLC.  Charlesbank acquired DEI Holdings in 2011.

To learn more about Sound United and its brands, visit www.soundunited.com.

About Classé Audio
Classé Audio is a leading maker of high-performance music and theater components. Classé Audio was previously owned by Bowers & WIlkins. The company was founded in 1980 and is located outside Montreal, Canada.

About Charlesbank Capital Partners
Based in Boston and New York, Charlesbank Capital Partners is a middle-market private equity investment firm managing more than $5 billion of capital. Charlesbank focuses on management-led buyouts and growth capital financings, generally investing in companies with enterprise values of $150 million to $1.5 billion, and also engages in opportunistic credit investments. The firm seeks to partner with strong management teams to build companies with sustainable competitive advantage and excellent prospects for growth. For more information, please visit www.charlesbank.com.

About the author:

Gene manages this organization, establishes relations with manufacturers and keeps Audioholics a well oiled machine. His goal is to educate about home theater and develop more standards in the industry to eliminate consumer confusion clouded by industry snake oil.

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Recent Forum Posts:

Johnny2Bad posts on January 10, 2018 06:55
lovinthehd, post: 1228209, member: 61636
Yes I know about putting the little accent mark on the “e” but then I'd have to twiddle with the keyboard. But I still think it's a pretentious brand name, even in French.

I thought typing a forum post was twiddling with the keyboard. ;-)

In that case, you know it's pronounced Class-A not Class-E, then. Right?

In a world of pretentious brand names, it's far from the most egregious. At least it has meaning, related to the product's aspirations, function, and heritage.

I understand it's your opinion, and of course you are welcome to it. I just don't see many arguments that you could propose against the branding except that you simply don't like it. Which is fine. I dislike Rogue Audio because they use a Raven as the logo, a bird I despise because I've had to deal with them. Some of their products don't have that hated bird on them, just the brand name, which I could happily live with. But no raven is going to be in my home. Period.

Pretty much the same thing, although I have to say that I listened extensively to a Rogue Audio Spynx and didn't like it … it wasn't bad, just un-involving. Something you can buy from a host of manufacturers, in other words I didn't see what all the fuss was about.
lovinthehd posts on January 09, 2018 16:32
Yes I know about putting the little accent mark on the “e” but then I'd have to twiddle with the keyboard. But I still think it's a pretentious brand name, even in French.
3db posts on January 09, 2018 08:08
I was wondering who would bring up the spelling of their name. As a Canadian, I know all this .
Johnny2Bad posts on January 09, 2018 05:28
They were known to be exploring buying Classé for about six weeks now. It was interesting but no-one took it too seriously, as at least three other suitors had expressed interest and backed out.

Sound United seems to want to move into the higher tier space, Classé is a perfect springboard for that. What is unknown at this point is where they will go with the brand … new circuits and new products that return to Classé's roots or milking the brand for it's goodwill.

This story isn't over yet, although I am glad to see Classé at least has a new lease on life. Hopefully this is good news, but the answer to that will take time.

SU will also have to deal with (Denon's) HEOS, which is in danger of being banned for resale due to DENON's court shellacking versus SONOS who are now in a position to ask for an injunction. D&M Holdings (Denon & Marantz) is also likely to be in legal jeopardy for penalties which will affect SU's bottom line, as they are the current owners. So seeking other revenue sources (via resurrecting Classé) seems reasonable.

Classé (as a brand, and when correctly spelled with the e-acute) isn't “silly” in my opinion; maybe it's lost to native English speakers but as a company founded in Montreal PQ it's a french word that resonates in that language and reflects the company's heritage. Normally those criteria would be considered good practice by branding professionals.
lovinthehd posts on January 09, 2018 05:06
MR.MAGOO, post: 1228124, member: 77706
I took a quick look at the Classe website, it has an option where you can find your local dealer. I input the data and found a few B&M shops near me (within 5 mile radius), and not one of them was Best Buy, Fry's, or Crazy Bobs Discount Stereo Mart. Classe seems to cater to the $$$$$ higher end of the spectrum, someone who's building a room dedicated to home theatre. Just my 2 cents.

Yes, Classe has catered to the high end traditionally, that's why it might be interesting if it made it to A4L as many of its sister brands are already. You can tell from the name it's high end of course….it's Classe (one of the sillier high end brand names if you ask me).
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