Stealth Acoustics Comes to a Boardroom Near You
COMPANY NAME: Stealth Acoustics
HEADQUARTERS: Mount Vernon, WA
HIGHLY VISIBLE: Stealth was founded by Paul Hagman and Steve Olszewski (pictured) of Dimensional Communications, an integrator with 37 years of history in the commercial AV business.
Very often in this industry, product innovation arises from the integration channel—whether it’s through custom products that eventually make it into manufacturers’ catalogs, or enterprising integrators who themselves go into hardware production. The latter case is how 37-year AV veterans Paul Hagman and Steve Olszewski at Dimensional Communications (DCI) in Mount Vernon, WA launched Stealth Acoustics in 2003.
DCI’s experience as a systems integrator fuels the product development and customer service at Stealth. “We’re systems integrators to the core, and we think that way—the way we treat our customers, the way we handle inventory is based on how we’d like to be treated as an integrator,” Olszewski emphasized.
Proof of its success in business lies in how Stealth prospered during the recent economic downturn, its international business increasing so rapidly that it now represents 41 percent of total revenues. The growth brought about the construction of a new 20,000-square-foot production and warehouse addition, doubling DCI and Stealth’s shared headquarters.
At its roots, Stealth was borne out of Hagman’s conviction that he could improve upon invisible loudspeakers. Today, 10 generations of product later, Stealth is working hard to create a great-sounding speaker that happens to be invisible, rather than the other way around.
The company’s products were initially sold primarily into the residential market and are still holding their own there, with growing market share, but the latest generation of technology is well suited to the commercial AV space, Olszewski said. “We’re at a point with our speakers now where you could install them in a commercial venue and be more than satisfied.”
By example, at the Stealth and DCI headquarters, the training room boasts a 7.1-channel surround system comprised of Stealth’s invisible speakers. The center channel is hidden in a wall painted with a projection screen surface. Rear sub panels are made with a wood veneer panel to blend into millwork. A new conference room currently under construction also will include a rear-projection setup with a 5.1-channel Stealth surround system.
The move from in-wall to freestanding speakers was not taken lightly, but the audiophile engineering team at Stealth was so impressed with the LR-4 in the R&D phase that they decided to pull back the curtains and put the Monolith front and center on the stage.
Lately, Stealth has been expanding into electronics, with a subwoofer amplifier filter, and the brand-new model 8400 multi-channel amplifier with DSP optimization that “you see all the time in the pro world, but you don’t see it in the consumer world all that much and you certainly don’t see it in the invisible speaker space,” Olszewski said.
This year, Stealth is making another leap in the invisible speakers space, and it will also prove that its audio technology can stand on its own, literally. The new LineaResponse LR -4 invisible speaker system is a three-way, fullrange system of two panels, a mid-high panel and a low-range panel. It was made available early this year, along with a freestanding model called the Monolith. The move from in-wall to freestanding speakers was not taken lightly, but the audiophile engineering team at Stealth was so impressed with the LR -4 in the R&D phase that they decided to pull back the curtains and put the Monolith front and center on the stage.
These new models and all Stealth products will be submitted for third-party electro-acoustical measurement this year, Olszewski pointed out, adding, “Proving the legitimacy of invisible speakers is our number-one goal.”
Kirsten Nelson is editor of SCN.