Hey Audiophile Style Fam,
It is no secret that Ayre Acoustics has been through a whirlwind of change in the last 6 years; and while we are not the only ones to have had our world turned upside down, for us it has been a blessing on many fronts. I will take a moment to introduce myself and catch you up on what has happened and where we are headed so you can get it straight from the horses mouth.
My name is Jake Forsyth, and I have taken on the challenge of reigniting our brand with Ariel Brown, to bring us back into the forefront of the industry like we had been for so long. I can save a more in depth origin story (because it is pretty fun!) for another post; but I have been passionately in love with music since the age of 4. I started playing Guitar at 13, then bass guitar at 16, and audio engineering by 17; jumping into school for recording at Musicians Institute of Hollywood, CA before moving to Colorado in 2008. I spent nearly 10 years in brick and mortar retail management, then moved on to help some friends start a business where we were a well recognized dealer for Focal/Naim brands, and then did some time at PS Audio for nearly 2 years before coming to Ayre.
I couldn’t be happier to have found Ayre Acoustics.
When I started with Ayre last year, it was apparent that there was a lot of work ahead for us; but it was almost impossible to know where to begin… But I felt it best to catch up on what happened in the years prior, so I will do my best to explain some of the challenges and how they were overcome.
- Late 2017 our founder Charles Hansen passed away after 10+ years of struggling with injuries sustained during an accident with a motorcyclist while enjoying a ride on his bicycle.
- Long time production manager and technician Ryan Berry was the most confident in stepping into the role of CEO at the time.
- 2018 we moved into a much bigger ($$$) building anticipating the launch of our 8-Series of products.
- By 2019 there had been severe machine shop challenges which prevented the entirety of this product range from launching.
- 2020 and the pandemic appeared out of nowhere, causing a near or total collapse of some of our best dealers.
- Fast forward to May 2022 when I started with Ayre, Brent Hefley had already left and I had the opportunity to work with Ryan Berry for roughly 5-6 months before discovering he was planning to leave.
- Upon Ryans exit, we had some options on the table of what we could do with the brand; none of which was in the best interest of the Hansen family, or Ariel Brown for his years of contribution to the company.
- After pouring through years of financial reports (P&L), I was able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and developed a plan for our company to get back on track that has been well received and already starting to show its fruits.
Since the beginning of this year, we have made some major progress in a short period of time.
- Big sales to industry friend/company of parts and big sales months on Ayre components allowed us to budget for three new employees.
- Tekoa Williams – Recommended by Darren Myers and Duncan Taylor to me after I began last year. Tekoa has an EE degree, and has been working under Ariel on high level tech jobs. Worked for the Music Room for 3 years.
- Nick Hernandez – Taking on shipping, receiving, and inventory for us, Nick keeps the vibe positive at all times and will do anything we ask without hesitation.
- TJ Tomasetti – TJ and I worked together at PS Audio and he has taken on all the tech skills that Ryan Berry had left us without. TJ is a great kid and has been adding value in a very short time. Worked at The Music Room for 3 years, and PS Audio for 5 years.
- The VX-8 power amplifier is being built right now, and shipping to one of our newest dealers first, Seattle Hifi, in the next 2 weeks.
- VX-8 is being sent to Stereophile next week for review. *This is our 30th product on our 30th anniversary, and very special for us*
- Special limited run of QA-9 and QA-9 Pro (ADC) are beginning production in the next 2 weeks.
- The KX-8 variable gain preamp parts are on order, and we are gearing up for a formal press release on the VX-8 and KX-8 soon.
- We attended AXPONA with 2 rooms, both of which garnered high press praise. Rooms #719 and #1543
- I attended Munich last week. If I was not meeting with distributors, I met with other brands to partner with (Raidho, Børresen Acoustics, YG Acoustics, Innuos, Seawave Acoustic, and more!), or with developers/suppliers for development of future products [top secret ;-)].
- The PX-8 phono stage with optional A-D output will be the 4th product to see production start this year and our former Ayrehead and trusted friend, Gary Mulder, has been lending us his ears on the final stages of development here.
With this being our 30th anniversary year, we are ramping up for some very significant announcements for upgrades and new components that are in the works. While Ayre has not been the best at throwing money into magazines and advertising, we have spent most of those funds in recent years on R&D, and furthering our understandings of where the next era of technology is heading. The R-Series is going to become a complete system solution. The 5-Series will continue to be true to our heritage while moving the needle further from everything we have learned in recent years since Charlie’s passing. There is also a high probability that our company will fulfill one of our founders dreams, and begin to build gear that will imprint the sound of Ayre Acoustics on the recordings we love and enjoy forever.
The big takeaways I want people to know is…
- Ayrehead-In-Chief Ariel Brown has been with Ayre Acoustics since 1996, and was chosen as Charlie’s understudy. Ariel began for Ayre as a sophomore in college under Charlie, having only ever known Ayre and Charlies way of doing things; we have everything we need to keep the essence of Ayre Acoustics in tact.
- Ariel Brown has been the lead designer in the company since the K5xeMP, AX-7 and so-on…. We never lost our engineer/designer. He just never has been one to take the spotlight, and never got the torch passing he deserved.
- This is just as much Ariel’s legacy and story as it was Charlie’s.
- The Hansen family is still involved today!
- Clay Hansen (brother) works at the factory with us every day as our lead repair and upgrade technician.
- Matt Hansen (brother) is our majority share holder on a board of directors that are all Charlies closest pals. We don’t owe anyone any money, and they want to see their brother/friends legacy live on.
- Carter Hansen (son of Charlie) is getting older (24?), and is a drummer/music producer/ videographer / drone pilot, and more. He is starting to understand what his father built, how much he loved this company, and how much all our users love this company. I see him getting more involved in time, and he has been spending more time with us here.
- Ayre Acoustics is positioned to make more growth than it has seen in several years.
- We are happier than we have been collectively in a long time. Sometimes with the right chemistry, you can get more done with less.
- The level of emotional commitment to this company is on a whole new level, and we want to honor Charlie, his friends and his family.
Seeing our founder Charles Hansen, pour his heart and soul into this industry through this website and more has been inspiring to say the least, and I hope to be able to give back even a speck of what Charlie had contributed to our glorious hobby and community. Charlie was incredibly active and gave of himself even up until his death; while many others in his position would have said “forget that internet guy, I hurt too bad to reply”, Charlie never held back from ensuring you had what you needed to make an informed decision.
Share the gospel of Zero-Feedback, tell your friends about us, and join us for a Pint With Ayre sometime.