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Pioneer Plans Expansion In High-End Audio

Pioneer will step up its presence in the esoteric high-end home and car audio markets by turning its Technical Audio Devices (TAD) engineering group into a full-fledged subsidiary with additional marketing and financial resources and its own balance sheet, said Russ Johnston, home entertainment marketing and product planning executive VP.

The 30-year-old TAD group, renamed Pioneer Technical Audio Devices Labs, has focused on the design and manufacture of high-end drivers for the professional-audio speaker market and has marketed a small selection of TAD-branded pro-audio speakers. About four years ago, it began offering high-end home speakers but still offers only two home models. The new subsidiary, renamed Pioneer Technical Audio Devices Labs, will expand the home speaker selection, make the move into high-end two-channel home audio electronics, and build TAD-branded car audio products. TAD’s home products have traditionally sold for more than $20,000.

Here at International CES, TAD Labs showed its third home-speaker pair and its first home amplifier, a two-channel monoblock model. The subsidiary will eventually add electronics such as preamp/processors and two-channel optical disc technologies such as CD and two-channel SACD.

TAD’s consumer-marketing efforts have largely depended on one-on-one relationships between factory engineers and a limited number of high-end audio retailers, but that will change as the subsidiary rethinks its retail strategy, Johnston said.

TAD boasts only about a dozen retailers of TAD-branded products, but TAD’s drivers appear in Pioneer’s Elite-series EX home-speaker line.