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Audio Design Experts Has High Hopes For Riva

Audio Design Experts, launched in October 2012 as an ODM designer of home- and pro-audio speakers, has high hopes for its fledgling Riva Audio consumer brand.

Founded by former executives of OEM-speaker maker AuraSound, the company is expanding its selection of branded audio products with the launch of its second portable high-performance Bluetooth speaker. The company also plans at CES 2016 to show concept prototypes of the first Riva-brand soundbars and wireless multiroom-audio speakers.

Since opening its doors, the company has designed transducers for consumer hi-fi speakers and studio monitor speakers for other companies. It has also designed complete soundbars for other companies. But Audio Design Experts diversified into its first own-brand products with the December 2014 shipment of its first own-brand product, the $349 Riva Turbo X portable Bluetooth speaker. It’s available through such retailers as Abt,, Crutchfield, Worldwide Stereo, Huppins and smaller independents.

This month, the company is shipping its second portable Bluetooth speaker, the $249 Riva S. It will be available at and select retailers, including Amazon, Crutchfield and

Audio Design Experts’ principals include Donald North, who is president and chief engineer, and Rikki Farr, who is chairman and chief creative officer.

Farr was a concert promoter going back to the 1960s for such musicians as Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Rod Stewart, Tom Petty, Bob Marley, Miles Davis and others. He also built touring speakers for the concerts. He later started a company to design aftermarket computer speakers and PC-bundled computer speaker, and he launched the Diamond Car Audio brand of aftermarket car speakers, later sold to Cerwin-Vega. He also designed some of the first soundbars in the mid-2000s. In 2010, his computer-speaker company was purchased by AuraSound, and he became AuraSound’s chief creative officer.

North was AuraSound’s engineering VP before moving to Audio Design Experts, based in Fountain Valley, Calif. Before that, he was with Harman Multimedia and Boston Acoustics.

Details of their first soundbars and wireless multiroom-audio speakers will be revealed during CES.

The company’s second Bluetooth speaker, the $249 Riva S, is the company’s first Bluetooth speaker that can be paired with a second speaker to operate as a stereo pair. Two Riva S models will also work as left-right pairs when a source is connect to one of the speaker’s 3.5mm analog input.

The speaker might also be the industry’s first Bluetooth speaker with a phono mode to enable playback of a turntable connected to the speaker’s 3.5mm analog input optimized for turntables in part by applying an extra 9dB of gain, North said.

The new model also features USB audio input for connecting to a PC, 30-watt output, three full-range active drivers, four dual-piston passive bass radiators,  Bluetooth AptX, dual-microphone speakerphone with noise and echo cancellation technology, and USB charging of a smartphone but not a tablet.

The three active drivers — one in front and one on each side — combine with proprietary Trillium processing to expand the width and depth of the sound stage.

Riva S’s battery lasts up to 13 or more hours when playing at 73dB levels and more than five hours when played at maximum 94+dB output. The speaker is IPX4 splash-proof rated.

The Riva Mobile app allows for remote control of the speaker via Bluetooth.

The $349 Riva Turbo X steps up to 45-watt amplification, 100dB output, and more than 26-hour battery life when paying at 75dB. It also adds AAC over Bluetooth.