Catching Up With: Mark Weisenberg, General Manager, Sunfire: Catering to New Markets
CR: Sunfire pioneered powerful, small-form speaker enclosures. How does this design approach relate to today’s market?
Mark Weisenberg: The consumer mindset has shifted dramatically in several ways in the last decade. Whether shopping for a smartphone, laptop or flat-screen TV, a stylish compact form factor is at the top of the list of demands. New construction in the U.S. has reached historic lows, and the homes that are being built are trending to be more conservative, smaller houses. Also, more and more people are looking to rent rather than buy a home, which has drastically cut the number of dedicated home theater installs.
The modern lifestyle isn’t about filling every possible space in the home, but rather maximizing the available space by minimizing the size of anything that can be made smaller, and being able to move it if necessary. The current wave of wireless home and mobile electronics has proven that people want to cut the clutter.
High-performance audio from small enclosures has been part of Sunfire’s mantra for 16 years, so we are the best-qualified manufacturer for this market trend. Before Bob Carver brought high-performance bass to the small form factor, everyone was designing big speakers and enclosures for big sound. It was as if the industry had a psychological barrier, like the four-minute-mile. Until we broke through, no one thought it was possible. Carver’s insights and unconventional designs helped us to become a leader in small, elegant high-performance speakers and subwoofers. Even our seven-channel amplifiers are smaller and run cooler while outperforming other brands. These space-saving designs are popular with consumers who are used to netbooks and other increasingly small electronic devices as well as popular with dealers as they now have products to satisfy consumer wants.
CR: How do you view today’s home theater market?