From humble beginnings in 1947, Crown Audio has grown to become one of the world’s largest manufacturers of power amplifiers.
Crown’s history traces back to 1947 and an Elkhart, Indiana minister named Clarence C. Moore (1904-1979). Moore, a longtime radio enthusiast, had spent the early part of the ’40s in Quito, Ecuador working for HCJB, a non-profit Christian broadcasting and engineering group.
Following his return to the United States, he felt the desire to supply Christian broadcasters like HCJB with quality electronic products. As a result, Moore founded International Radio and Electronics Corporation (IREC) in 1947 and converted a former chicken coop into the budding manufacturer’s first production facility.
The company’s early reputation was built on a family of rugged and compact open-reel tape recorders designed to operate reliably when used by missionaries in remote, often-primitive regions of the world.
After modifying and distributing several existing models (Magnecord, Recordio, Pentron and Crestwood) for the first couple of years, Moore obtained a patent in 1949 for a groundbreaking invention: the world’s first tape recorder with a built-in power amplifier (15 watts).
Eventually, Moore’s wife and co-founder, Ruby (deceased 2002), suggested that ‘International Radio and Electronics Corporation’ was too long a name for the company. Since IREC had by this point produced vacuum tube tape recorders branded ‘Royal’ and ‘Imperial’, in addition to the fact that the emblem on those products was a fancy crown, she felt that the company should simply be called Crown.
Her husband agreed, and, in the 1960s, the company’s name was changed to ‘Crown International, a division of International Radio and Electronics Corporation’. Finally, in 1975, the stockholders voted to change the name of the corporation to Crown International, Inc.
In the 1960s, the introduction of the DC300 high-powered, solid-state amplifier offering 150 watts per channel at eight ohms and AB+B circuitry moved Crown into a leadership position in worldwide power amplifier markets.
In the 1970s, Crown launched the PSA-2 power amplifier with a built-in computer to maximize performance of its output transistors. Product diversification began with the introduction of the line of Pressure Zone Microphones (PZM) and TEF audio analyzer.
With the implementation of Grounded Bridge circuitry in the 1980s, Crown offered an innovation providing lower distortion, less thermal stress, higher acoustic output, greater reliability, superior power density and audio quality, Grounded Bridge circuitry was integral to the engineering of the Macro-Tech and Micro-Tech amplifier lines.
The 1990s found Crown developing computer-controlled audio systems with the IQ System. In 1997, the company added another new milestone in audio technology with the introduction of the K2 amplifier featuring Balanced Current Amplifier circuitry offering innovative thermal and energy efficiencies.
Acquired by Harman International in March of 2000, Crown has continued to move forward, producing numerous innovative designs, including the CTs Series amplifier line for the installed sound markets, Crown’s next-generation IQ System, now called IQ Network, and the I-Tech Series touring amplifiers.
Crown International Senior VP of R&D Gerald Stanley, who originally joined the company in 1964 as a tape recorder line technician and amplifier design engineer, comments on Crown’s success over the years.
“In an era of cookbook designs and buggy software, it would seem that the most basic lessons of history have been forgotten,” he says. “Crown’s recipe is simple: design, build and service each product as if you were the customer. This approach not only drives the product to excellence, it drives the people to be the best that they can be.”
(Thanks to Crown for this report.)
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