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Tivoli Founder Launches Sapphire Speaker Brand

Tivoli Audio CEO Tom DeVesto has launched a new company, Sapphire Solutions, to fill a niche for what he called affordable high-efficiency home speakers that deliver “faithful reproduction.”

The speakers are targeted to users of low-cost, low-power receivers, and they’ll be sold through promoting A/V specialty chains and independents, all with assisted sales floors to tell the speakers’ story, DeVesto said.

The speakers were designed for Sapphire by Cary Christie, co-founder of Infinity and current owner of speaker maker Artison, which markets plasma-TV-friendly speakers.

Christie called the narrow-profile Sapphire speakers “among the most efficient” in a market in which most high-efficiency speakers are “ugly” and feature “big baffles.” Other high-efficiency speakers also suffer from a bright sound “that makes them sound more efficient than they are,” he contended.

Added DeVesto, “High efficiency and accuracy don’t usually go together.” Many companies target users of low-power receivers with efficient speakers, he said, but those models lack faithful reproduction. “In this market, a speaker company has to find a niche,” he noted.

Recent distribution moves by other speaker companies selling to promoting specialists provide Sapphire with “some openings” at retail, Christie noted. DeVesto said Tweeter is one retailer planning to carry the line.

“There’s nothing with these price points with this efficiency at promoting specialists,” Christie contended.

Sapphire has already sold out its fall production, DeVesto said.

The Sapphire selection consists of three slim three-way towers with side-firing woofers, a two-way bookshelf model, two-way center channel and a dedicated surround pair with two-way bipolar design. The towers’ suggested retails are $699, $899 and $1,499 per pair with respective efficiencies of 91dB, 93dB and 95dB at 1 watt per meter. The bookshelf is $299 per pair, and the center channel and surrounds go for $349 each and $499 per pair, respectively.

The models feature aluminum-cone midranges and woofers and a new type of tweeter that uses a sealed cellular diaphragm design to deliver high rigidity with low mass to enhance accuracy. The tweeter sits in a custom wave guide to increase the performance of the tweeter’s lower frequencies to further improve efficiency, the company said.

Sapphire is DeVesto’s second speaker-brand launch in as many years. In 2001, he launched entry-level speakers and speaker selectors through another company, Tivoli Designs. The speakers, available through Tweeter, are targeted to step-up independents and specialty A/V chains that want to expand their customer base to entry-level consumers who might otherwise buy speakers from national CE chains.

DeVesto’s third company, Tivoli Audio, has been selling compact table radios since October 2000.