Sanyo on pad with ULRTX: higher-end audio line set to roll
COMPTON, Calif.–Sanyo will launch its long-anticipated end brand called ULTRX through a limited number of dealers this summer and fall, said the company.
Mid- to high-priced audio components including cassette decks, receivers and turntables will be shipped to a network of 35 to 50 specialty stores in August or September, said audio merchandise manager Isaac Levy.
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Several car audio units, also under the ULTRX name are scheduled to roll out earlier this summer to between 200 and 300 installer-specialists, added national merchandise manager, car audio, Bill Bast.
Word of the new brand, representing a major shift in Sanyo’s traditional mass distribution tack, came at the company’s recent sales meeting.
At that time the supplier introduced over 60 products under the Sanyo label led by audio rack systems and by new three-head beta videocassette recorders.
According to Levy, the company is spinning off the new brand because “people identify Sanyo with low-end components. Just as panasonic did with Technics, we had to use a new name to establish that this is a different parameters,” he said.
Panasonic created in 1973 the higher-end Technics brand which has become the reputed leader in audio components. This was done under the leadership of vice president and general manager Jeff Berkowitz, who has since taken a top executive spot at Sanyo.
Sanyo also tried to market a high-end brand about five years ago called the Plus Series but that was discontinued.
“The difference between the Plus Series and ULTRX is that we’re introducing this through a limited distribution,” Levy said, adding that the Plus Series also had problems with delivery, quality control and a clear marketing concept.
In addition, he said, profit margins in audio are down. “If we can walk in with a high margin line which protects the dealer we’ll be successful,” Levy continued.
At first the company foresees slow growth for the line, eventually working up to a recognized name.
“In five years we want to be known as one of the major audio brands, but not in two years. We’re not interested in jumping right away. We’ll be satisfied with a small distribution to build from slowly,” he said.
The new ULTRX line will include eight home cassette decks with suggested retail prices between $149 and $599 and five receivers between $149 and $699, said Levy noting “We’re also working on turntables but that has not been finalized.” Car audio
In car audio the company will introduce this summer three high powered cassette receivers at suggested retail prices between $370 and $470 with a fourth model to follow by fall. These will be joined by a full line of amplifiers and equalizers in January said Bast.
The products will be displayed privately at the summer consumer electronics show this June. Until then little feature information was revealed other than that autosound units “make full use of microprocessor technology to make them very user friendly,” according to Bast. Car speakers, he continued, might be “looked at” later on.
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Audio systems will remain in the domain of Sanyo products, and were greatly improved this summer.
Seven systems including an audio0video component model with beta hifi VCR were shown at the company’s sales meeting earlier this month. These range in suggested retail price from $399 to $1,299 for audio systems and $2,199 for the audio video model with 25-inch monitor receiver and 50 watt per channel audio amplifier. Last year the top line model had a suggested retail price of $799. Compact disk player
One of the most notable systems, however, is an audio unit with a compact disk player at $999. Available in May, it includes a 50 watt per channel amplifier, the company’s top of the line digitally synthesized tuner, a cassette deck with Dolby B and C noise reduction, semi automatic turntable and speakers. A step-up system with 100-watt per channel amplifier and upgrade speakers will have a suggested retail price of $1,299.
All but the two low end systems are targeted for distribution in department stores and consumer electronics specialty chains, said Levy noting that the company had made an effort to strengthen and upgrade the line.
In the past Sanyo usually went to trade shows and saw what everyone else had and came out six months later with the same. This year, instead of following we’re leading with a CD player in a $1,000 system and with an audio/video system at a reasonable price,” he said.
Also introduced for spring and summer delivery were four new VCRs including the company’s first three head models at suggested retail prices between $419 and $699.
These were joined by two compact solid state cameras, first previewed at the winter CES in January. The 2.5 pound video cameras which look like 35mm still cameras, include a manual focus model at $999 and a step up version with autofocus at $1,299.
In televisions the company introduced six new models including two which accept stereo decoders for stereo broadcasts and which have bilingual switching. These are a new top of the line 25-inch table model at $799 and a 20-inch unit with stereo speakers, audio amplifier and flat square picture tube at $699.95.
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Other new products include a double cassette deck at $109 and two single decks at $109 and $89 suggested retail prices; six new electronically tuned car radio cassette players and eight manually tuned models with new universal fit chasses; six personal radio cassette player combinations and 17 portable products ranging from a voice activated mono recorder at $129 to a boom box with detachable speakers, featuring autoreverse in play and record at $249.
Sanyo on pad with ULRTX: higher-end audio line set to roll