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Setting The Pace: The Present & Future Directions Of Adamson Systems Engineering

Behind the scenes with a manufacturing powerhouse quietly producing professional audio products in Canada.

From the outset, Adamson Systems Engineering has focused on innovation. Whether this showed itself in product geometries or material selection, the results have been distinct. Mid-range diaphragms and phase plugs, waveguides sound chambers, dual coil drivers and rigging systems, all are the unique fruit of this innovation.

It’s a top-down philosophy spearheaded by founder and chairman Brock Adamson, with the company’s Port Perry, Ontario headquarters and manufacturing facility reflecting this intent.

“Rapid prototyping requires the best software and machinery combined with the luxury of space,” Brock Adamson explains. “The space is required for the accumulation of multiple physical prototypes and the assembly and measurement of arrays.”

Space was the real motivation in placing the headquarters away from the auditory distractions of major highways and industrial noise. And of course, full-scale outdoor testing is performed at will. Locals, at least those I came across during my recent visit, have no idea pro audio gear is being made in their backyard, even though with roughly 120 employees, Adamson is one of the largest employers in the area and has been in town for almost 15 years.

Company founder and chairman Brock Adamson.

Granted, the company doesn’t go out of its way to advertise its presence. In fact, until this past summer, there wasn’t even a sign out front, explains James Oliver, director of marketing and sales, who adds, “Beside the new sign there’s actually a speaker basket on a pole; that’s how people identified us before.”

Production Philosophy

While Adamson’s loudspeaker systems have garnered respect worldwide, their European presence sometimes overshadows the fact that the company manufactures its technology in Canada.

“There’s respect for Adamson in this hemisphere – from those who know it is a Canadian brand and some who actually think it’s European,” says Marc Bertrand, the company’s newly appointed CEO, “But some people seemed a bit unclear about its origins and design philosophy.

“Essentially there was a knowledge gap,” he continues, a gap he’s worked to bridge since coming onboard in November 2017. “What intrigues me about this is we’re not stuffing somebody else’s driver into an enclosure or taking a proprietary design to a contract manufacturer to replicate. It’s purely about maximizing a system, right down to the component level, and you can do that when you’ve got 100 percent control of the environment.”

In setting that priority, Adamson has positively impacted everything from earlier offerings – Y-Axis Series (the first line array designed and manufactured in North America), T21 sub, Metrix, Spektrix and E-Series loudspeakers – to recent products such as the S- and IS-Series loudspeakers.

In a 2013 article where I covered Adamson’s 30th anniversary, we discussed previous expansions. Back then, Brock Adamson noted that every manufacturer wants ‘to wring every last drop of blood out of their building.” Since then, the company has added 40,000 square feet and upgraded substantially. And now, from the current footprint of 75,000 square feet, planning and excavation for a completely new lean assembly building of 105,000 square feet is already underway.

This recent expansion has increased the company’s considerable manufacturing and R&D facilities, deepened the control they exert over those processes, and added to their infrastructure and capacity. It’s also enhanced supply chain independence, somewhat insulating the company from cost fluctuations and delivery variations. “Our production philosophy, from acquisition of real estate, to the construction of infrastructure, hinges on the vertical integration of the manufacturing and engineering processes,” Oliver says.

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