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Popular Car Audio Brands in India

AlpineAlpine was founded as Alps Motorola Co., Ltd., a joint venture of Alps Electric and Motorola, Inc. in 1967. It began manufacturing 8-track cartridge players the next year. It began exporting cassette decks under the ‘Alpine’ brand name in 1975. 1977 was the year when Alpine’s cassette player/radio was selected to be OEM fitment for Lamborghini automobiless. Alpine got its current name officially in 1978. It developed the world’s first car navigation system with Honda Motor Company in 1981. Alpine is a premium brand and their products are comparatively more expensive. However their receivers and speakers are fairly high performance and their receivers are amongst the first choice when considering a high end install. They play clean and pack in a good stable amp.

Bang & OlufsenBang & Olufsen Peter Boas Bang and Svend Anreas Gron Olufsen are the founded this Danish company in 1925. They first manufactured radios. Their focus and strength has always been design and they are really a luxury brand. Only the very wealthy would be able to afford any B&O product! Some of their home telephones cost as much as a good quality home theater kit from a run-of-a-mill brand. They do have a presence in India but you can’t buy B&O for your car. At the moment, you'll only see them as standard kit in Audis in India.

BlaupunktBlaupunkt is part of the mobile communications division of the Robert Bosch group. It started life in 1920s Germany as the "Ideal" radio company of Berlin. Initially it produced only headphones. Each set of headphones that passed its final test was indicated by a blue circular sticker, and before long customers simply began to ask for "Blue Dot" headphones - the symbol became the companies' trade mark, and in 1938 the company name. This is where we get the name "Blaupunkt" - "Blue Spot" in German. Bosch acquired the company over 60 years ago, and following the Second World War, the company made the move to Hildesheim. It was at this time, 1932, that Blaupunkt introduced the world's first car radio: the AS5. Blaupunkt has a large name backing it – Bosch! They always had innovative products and were one of the first people in the country to launch a receiver with SIM card support – way back in 2001!

BoseBose Corporation was founded in 1964 by Dr. Amar G. Bose, then professor of electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Extensive research in the fields of speaker design and psychoacoustics—the human perception of sound—led to the 901® Direct/Reflecting® speaker system in 1968. Bose's first car audio system was launched in 1982, and their first surround-sound system for a car (effective even with stereo audio) was launched in 2003. Bose has constantly been on the edge of innovation with their products and has always on focused on delivering as natural a sound as possible – as it was meant to be heard when it was recorded. Although you can’t buy kit from Bose for your car audio installs, you can drool when you sit in an Audi Q7 here. The natural soundstage and clarity the system produces is simply astounding.

Boston AcousticsBoston Acoustics was founded in 1979, and entered the car audio space in 1983. They are an innovative company, with a number of patents to their name. For example, they were the first company to successfully execute a tweeter with a neodymium magnet in 1989. They are a name known here for their amps and components.

Cerwin Vega!Cerwin-Vega! The origins of Cerwin-Vega date back to 1954, when a young aerospace engineer named Gene Czerwinski started a loudspeaker company. The company quickly branched out into custom high-fidelity systems that promised the target audience of audio enthusiasts the next best thing to actually being at a concert. The company became known for its large, four-way speaker system with 18-inch woofers. Several original speaker designs were introduced in the 1970s, including the Stroker, a dual spider woofer currently used in the company's mobile audio products. Cerwin-Vega also developed a bass enhancement principle, called Thermo-Vapor Suspension, by filling its speaker cabinets with a particular gas that in essence tricks the woofer into seeing a larger enclosure. Cerwin Vega car-Audio subwoofers were available in India for a very short while through an importer and they didn’t really make much of an impact in the Indian market.

ClarionClarion was established as the Hakusan Wireless Electric Company in 1940, and began manufacturing of battery-operated household radios. It produced Japan’s first car radio in 1950. Nissan Motor specified it as genuine parts in 1959, and it developed Japan’s first car stereo in 1963. It changed its corporate name to Clarion Co., Ltd in 1970. It launched its first in-vehicle PC in Japan in the year 2002, called "AutoPC CADIAS™". It became a Hitachi Group company in 2006. This is not a name you see to often in India. However you may remember a lot of Clarion’s adverts with Jamiroquai. They were one of the first people to launch a fully hard-disk based receiver. Sadly it never took off a big way in India.

DynaudioDynaudio was founded with the singular goal of building the world's best loudspeakers. The Dynaudio Mobile Fidelity range brings the company's advanced technology and performance into the arena of car audio. Dynaudio's Mobile Fidelity line of dedicated 12 volt loudspeakers reflects the same advanced, no compromise approach that has rendered the company's other product offerings as the absolute state-of-the-art. The Incar loudspeaker range was developed in response to the growing demand for high quality sound in the automobile. Dynaudio's advanced home audio drivers had found their way into many car audio installations, as it was felt that these drivers outperformed even the best available 12 volt loudspeaker products at the time. Dynaudio's Incar loudspeaker drivers have taken the best attributes of the company's home audio and studio designs and is optimized for car audio applications. Listen to a soundtrack in a Volvo S80 sold here in India, and we’re sure that it will leave you as impressed as it left us!

Harman KardonHarman Kardon Dr. Sidney Harman and Bernard Kardon founded Harman Kardon in 1953. As early as 1954, Harman Kardon made a quantum leap in simplifying access to high-fidelity sound for the non technical consumer with the introduction of the world’s first true hi-fi receiver, the Festival D1000, incorporating a tuner, control unit and power amplifier in a single chassis. In addition to the Festival D1000, the company’s legendary audio industry “firsts” include the TA230 stereo receiver (1958); the first ultrawide-bandwidth amplifier, the Citation II (1959); the first cassette deck with Dolby* B noise reduction, the CAD5 (1970); the first high-current-capability amplifier, and the Citation XX (1980). In addition to its home entertainment products, Harman Kardon is applying its technological expertise to the infotainment/telematics category of the automotive industry as part of Harman Infotainment. Harman Infotainment is pioneering the development of multifunctional infotainment systems for automakers such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Audi, Some of the company’s in-vehicle innovations include hands-free audio/video and navigation system operation, the world’s most advanced multimedia displays, easy-to-use navigational systems, uninterrupted radio reception, 7.1-channel Harman Kardon Logic 7 audio systems, and more. Harman International Industries is the parent company and also owns the JBL and Infinity brands.

InfinityInfinity Audio Founded in 1968, Infinity Car Audio has specialised in producing affordable home and car audio solutions. Today, Infinity produces packages for a wide range of audio applications, including multichannel surround sound home theatre packages, in-wall home speakers, marine applications, as well as beyond loudspeakers alone with the inclusion of powered sub woofers and car audio amplifiers. It is part of the Harman International Industries Group that also owns JBL and Harman/Kardon. Infinity car audio products are available through the JBL India channel – Sahil international. Since Infinity is a slightly more upmarket brand, their products can sometimes be typically more expensive since they may pack in more technology and brand value.

JBLJBL! If you’ve ever wondered what the alphabets in JBL stood for, here it is – James B. Lansing. The company, James B. Lansing Sound, Incorporated, was first called Lansing Sound, Incorporated, and dates from 1 October 1946. One of the first products introduced by the new company was the model D101 fifteen-inch loudspeaker. It was virtually a copy of the Altec Lansing 515 theater woofer with an aluminum dome and with venting through the back of the magnet structure. Up to about 1955, the James B. Lansing Sound Company sold loudspeakers with the identification "Jim Lansing Signature Sound" emblazoned boldly on the pot structures. Altec Lansing then entered a long round of polite out-of-court negotiations with the James B. Lansing Sound Company, and they agreed that the new company would stop labeling of the product as Lansing. A decision was made by Thomas to capitalize on the initials, JBL, in identifying the company. The initials JBL, along with the familiar exclamation point have become synonymous with the current identity of James B. Lansing Sound, Incorporated. Nobody remembers exactly where the exclamation point came from, but it does add to the character of the logo! The professional line as we know it today took form in the late sixties. It is today, part of the Harman International Industries Group that also owns JBL and Harman/Kardon. JBL car audio has been officially available in India for about seven-odd years now through their distributor, Sahil International. Their car audio range includes everything from components, amplifiers, subwoofers with enclosures and loudspeakers.

JL AudioJL Audio The first initials of company founders James Birch and Lucio Proni make up the letters in the company name. They founded it in 1975 in Florida, USA. In 1977 the partners formed a new company called Speaker Warehouse with a primary focus on speaker repair and retailing of raw drivers, crossover parts and complete speaker systems. During this time, JL Audio continued to operate independently. JL Audio launched its first car audio amplifiers in 2000. JL is very popular with mid to high end installers who swear by their components.

JVCJVC The Victor Company of Japan, Ltd. was founded as a manufacturer of records and phonographs in 1927. (No specific information on car audio! Just industry first like with TVs, camcorders and VCRs.) JVC has some excellent receivers in India. Especially their touchescreen based systems from the EXAD range. They’re a real treat.

KenwoodKenwood was established as Kasuga Radio Co., Ltd.in 1946. It was renamed ‘Trio Electronics, Inc.’ in 1960. It finally acquired the name ‘Kenwood Corporation’ in 1986. It has many firsts to its name, including the first transistor amplifier and the first 1-DIN sized sat nav system. It has entered into a joint venture with JVC in 2007. Kenwood is standard fitment to a lot of cars in India. From the humble Maruti’s to the mighly Endeavour which sports a Kenwood system which does it all – from phone calls to satellite navigation to dvd multi-zone playback!

Kicker AudioKICKER Audio products are designed and manufactured by Stillwater Designs, headquartered in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The firm began in 1973 as a two-person operation, hand-building professional sound and musical instrument speaker systems for churches, auditoriums, and entertainers. The company concentrated on the car audio market, applying its knowledge to the development of a complete line of high-performance components for car audio. What was once a company with two employees in a single-car garage is now a corporation with 220-plus employees in facilities totaling more than a quarter-million square feet. Kicker debuted in India through a distributor in India a few years ago but isn’t that visible now.

Lightning AudioLightning Audio was created in 1992, and became popular immediately with its then-revolutionary capacitors. Lightning Caps became a hot commodity, and the company quickly moved into new areas of the market. They now sell speakers, amplifiers, batteries, and everything in between. Lightning Audio came into India through a distributor and they are best known for their speakers and components.

MTX AudioMTX Audio was founded by MTX CEO and chairman Loyd Ivey in 1979 in Illinois, USA. They have some unique practices; the car audio amplifiers, for example, are all tested before they are shipped to make sure that they meet or exceed expectations. Once they pass the series of tests, each amplifier gets a Certified Performance Certificate, attesting to that individual amplifier's performance.

NakamichiNakamichi was founded in 1948. The Company initially designed and developed portable radios, tone arms, speakers and communications equipment. Nakamichi was available in India a few years ago. Although their receivers were very expensive, they boast some of the best technology and we’ve never come across a receiver that’s done better.

PanasonicPanasonic began life as the Matsushita Electric Industrial Company in 1918, the brainchild of Konosuke Matsushita. It has gone from strength to strength since then. Among its accolades are the invention of VHS home video recorders in conjuction with its co-owned company, the Victor Company of Japan Ltd. It was renamed the Panasonic corporation in 2008. An interesting fact is that Konosuke-san’s brother-in-law, Toshio Iue, formed Sanyo.

PioneerPioneer is largely a creation of the Matsumoto family. In 1936 Nozomu Matsumoto founded a tiny company called Fukuin Shokai Denki Seisakusho, or Gospel Electric Works in Osaka, Japan. After a year of experimentation the first speaker, the A-8 was brought to market in 1937. In recognition of its groundbreaking role Matsumoto christened the speaker Pioneer, and graced it with the corporate logo that was used for decades: the Greek letter omega--symbol of electrical resistance--and a tuning fork. The company moved to Tokyo in 1938. The company changed its name from Fukuin (Gospel) Electric to Pioneer in the early 1960s and began manufacturing full stereo component sets. In 1975 the company introduced the world's first component car stereo. In 1984, Pioneer began marketing the first CD players for automobiles. Pioneer had introduced the world's first car navigation system into the Japanese market in 1990. Pioneer is one of the largest selling brands in the Indian marketplace and until a couple of years ago was available only in the grey market. Now they are here officially and you can now buy their products with a warranty – not that you’ll need it! It has been the installers favorite for years for an ideal match of features, quality, price and reliability.

Polk AudioPolk Audio was founded in 1972 by three Johns Hopkins University graduates and is an award-winning designer and manufacturer of high performance audio products and the largest audio brand of Directed Electronics, Inc. Polk's products include loudspeakers and electronic components for home, auto and marine applications, the first satellite radio home component tuner, the world's first audiophile-grade active IP-addressable loudspeaker, the first THX Ultra2 Certified in-ceiling loudspeaker, and I-Sonic-the first entertainment system to include HD radio, XM Connect & Play capability and a DVD player. Polk is available in India through a distributor and their speakers are fairly good quality. Apart from this they have a few components and amps on offer.

Rockford FosgateRockford Fosgate Founder Jim Fosgate put his name on his first piece of audio equipment in 1973, the patented PUNCH equaliser that boosted bass and gave superior control over highs. Since then, Rockford-Fosgate has gone from strength to strength. Jim Fosgate was even awarded an Emmy Award in 2003 for his work in developing surround sound technology for television! Rockford Fosgate came into India courtesy Digimax International (who incidentally also brought in Monster Cable and MB Quart) and they launched a whole line of components, subwoofers and speakers.

SonySony was originally called Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo (Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Company), Sony’s roots go back over half a century to 1946 when it was founded by Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita. Their first electronic innovation was an automatic rice cooker. TTK was already being used by another company so a new name, Sony, Corporation was conceived. The name Sony derives from the Latin word sonus meaning sound and the English word “sonny-boy” - a term used by the Americans in the 1950s to denote a bright youngster. Although the name of the company was not officially changed to Sony Corporation until 1958, the first Sony branded product was the TR-55 transistor radio which went on sale in 1955. Sony began mass producing a wide array of car radios in the mid '80s, with one of the most popular sellers being the AM/FM cassette car stereo. Sony has been in India officially with car stereos for about a decade now. Their X-plod branding and their overall brand, quality and price make them a strong contender for overall marketshare in India.

Other Brands There are other brands which have been available in India but haven’t been very visible. Soundstream is one such large brand that have had a good reputation with their components and also Audible Dynamics who have on offer some fairly good speakers. Speciality brands such as Morel (who are big in the home audio space) have fairly high-end components for the connoisseur. Vibe and Fli were also two brands that tried to make headway into the Indian market a few years ago. There are also players like Sanen Audio who are known more for their enclosures than their speakers.

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