Inventor Profile -- Thinking Inside The Box

Kitchener, Ontario, Canada-When you begin by offering products to some of the most famous rock and roll bands in the world, you make sure that they deliver the goods.

At least, that's how the research and development team at Martin Audio sees it.

Founded in 1971, Martin Audio claimed super groups Pink Floyd, Supertramp and Emerson, Lake & Palmer among its first customers. Back then, power amps were small, so horn-loading was the order of the day, explained Rob Hofkamp, Martin Audio's director of U.S. operations. Our philosophy has been purely based around building horn-loaded cabinets to gain maximum efficiency.

Since then, the company, which is headquartered in the United Kingdom, continues to serve the high-end concert touring circuit, as well as the permanent installation market around the world. Today, Martin loudspeakers can be seen in any number of venues, including retail outlets, restaurants, nightclubs, houses of worship and stadiums.

"Today, we manufacture over 70 different models, all the way from ceiling speakers to line array systems for fixed installations or tour sound," Hofkamp noted.

"The big thing is always about horn-loading low frequencies for maximum impact. Of course all our mids and highs are horn-loaded for maximum efficiency and, as importantly, constant directivity."
In the competitive loudspeaker market, manufacturers are continually seeking new ways of differentiating themselves from one another. According to Hofkamp, Martin's combination of quality and customer service sets the company apart. "We offer good service and support," he said. "We focus on building a very good, acoustically correct box. We give the user a whiteboard-our speaker is that whiteboard. It's up to them to add any color, or to paint their own picture the way they want it painted.

Martin's introduction of the W8LM and W8LC line array speakers addressed the need for smaller line arrays that continue to deliver powerful sound, Hofkamp notes. "The line array originally came forward as a way to get increased and more consistent output from a smaller system," he said. "In our case we have the W8LC, which is the mid-sized box, and the W8LM, which is the mini weighing in at just 53 pounds."

Martin Audio is currently shipping the AQ Series, which is the manufacturer's latest offering to the permanent installation market. For Hofkamp, the reason behind the company's popularity is simple: "We are really about building a solid, great-sounding, reliable product."

Carolyn Heinze ( is a freelance writer/editor.

Martin Audio At America West

Headquartered in the United Kingdom, there was a time that Martin Audio loudspeakers were more prevalent throughout Europe than North America. This is no longer the case; today venues in Europe, North America and around the world are outfitted with the manufacturer's high performance audio products.
Such is the case for the America West stadium in Phoenix, AZ, home of the Phoenix Suns, Arizona Rattlers and more than 200 special events each year. The venue recently conducted an audio systems upgrade that involved the integration of eight speaker clusters: W8LC's for the four main clusters, two clusters equipped with four WLX subs and eight W8LM minis; and two clusters featuring eight W8LX subs and two W8LM minis. Phoenix's Genesis Audio oversaw the design and installation of the new system.

Carolyn Heinze has covered everything from AV/IT and business to cowboys and cowgirls ... and the horses they love. She was the Paris contributing editor for the pan-European site Running in Heels, providing news and views on fashion, culture, and the arts for her column, “France in Your Pants.” She has also contributed critiques of foreign cinema and French politics for the politico-literary site, The New Vulgate.