First off all, what exactly is “Boutique Audio”? Well, I’m glad you asked. (if you did) Boutique Audio is best described as smaller professional audio companies that, at their core, is driven by inventor(s) and/or their vision/products. Their staff can range anywhere from one or two people to 30+ employees. Some companies that fit this description handle everything from product design through manufacturing, sales and distribution. Others simply invent the products and outsource the rest of the day-to-day business activities to third parties. The later approach is more common but in different degrees. Now, the other part of this definition is cost. Any company designing quality products with expensive parts (welcome to the “pro” in pro audio) and manufacturing small batches of them at a time will be more expensive than bigger companies that are are manufacturing large quantities overseas. Most of us equate the rise and popularity of these companies around the same time ADAT machines came on the scene and then really kicking up with the advent of the inexpensive Pro Tools systems at the turn of the century. Compared to today’s standards this seems like an appropriate timeline, but some of the companies that meet this definition have been manufacturing product for 25 plus years! (like GML and Tube Tech to name a few)
So, back to the my title and the original question: What makes these companies successful? Also, why do thousands of people every year choose to buy $2000 microphone preamps instead of a $1000 16 channel mixers? Well, as I touched on before, quality is certainly a big factor. But, let’s be realistic: there are a lot of companies out there today trying to get your money. Actually, so much so it seems like we’re a little over saturated with some of these “flavor of the month” companies. So what’s the secret to quality and longevity? The answer is the people. If you look at the veteran companies that have been in business for many years you’ll see quality focused people that believe in their products and even more importantly, they believe in integrity. These are people that believe in taking care of their customers, always doing the right thing and not making business decisions that jeopardize anyone in any part of their business.
So the next time you get out your check book and are wondering if a piece of gear is right for you, do your homework! Once you get past whether or not you like what the product does, dig a little bit deeper. Who are you buying from (the manufacturer)? How long have they been in business? What’s their personal reputation (look at online forums, reach out to their customers, etc.)? Have they done right by others (who have they done business with in the past)? Does it look like they’re going to be in business a year from now? How many products do they have on the market? Here’s something to consider: If it takes five years to bring one product to market and they don’t have any new products on the horizon, you have to wonder if they going to be around to service and update your purchase two years from now!
TransAudio Group is proud of the companies it represents and was founded on the philosophy of working with good people (first) that make good products (second). If you ask any of the above questions of the companies that TAG represents, you won’t be disappointed with the answers you receive.