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A Bit of History - ELAC Miracord - Electroacustic GMBH - Benmamin Miracord
ELECTROACUSTIC GmbH is a German company best known in most parts of the world as ELAC or Miracord. Their turntables from primarily the 1950s through 1970s are very well known. They were distributed in the USA by Benjamin Electronic Sound Corp. who sometimes re-badged them as Benjamin Miracord. In Canada, they were distributed by White Electronic Development Corp. Ltd.
On April 15, 1908, Dr Phil Heinrich Hecht started working in Kiel, Germany on underwater sound technology. In 1911, a company called Signalgesellschaft GmbH was founded. The managers were Dr Phil Hecht, Dr Phil Wilhelm Rudolph, Walter Hahnemann, and Gerhard Schmidt.
After World War I, Dr Hecht, Gerhard Schmidt, and Dr Rudolph founded the ELECTROACUSTIC GmbH. The company prospered and grew to have a total workforce of about 5000. World War II interrupted their progress and the company nearly ground to a halt. They maintained operations with a downsized workforce of approximately 250 workers and by making sewing machines and other products.
In the late 1940s they introduce their first turntable using the ELAC brand name and produce 5600 the first year. They will eventually produce approximately 4 million turntables. Through their work with producing high purity Seignette salt crystals, they introduce the crystal phono pickup (KST1) which requires only 270 mN (milli-newtons) (approximately 27 gm) tracking force instead of the 600 to 1200 mN (approximately 60 - 120 gm) which was common at the time. By the mid-1950s, three German companies consisting of ELAC, Dual and Perpetuum Ebner (PE) enjoy a 90% worldwide market share for turntables.
In 1957 ELAC patents an electro-magnetic pick-up which established them as a world leader in pickups. They license it to companies around the world including Shure. Further development of this technology led to what becomes known as Moving-Magnet cartridge systems or simply MM. By the late 1960s, ELAC hi-fi magnet pick-ups had tracking forces below 10 mN (approximately 1 gm).
About 1978 turntable manufacturers experienced a dramatic downturn in sales. ELAC is split with the underwater sound portion of the company being bought by Honeywell and the phono division is renamed ELAC Ingenieurtechnik. The (again) downsized company continues on a much reduced scale and with other work such as industrial robots.
Despite changes in marketing strategies and a successful new stylus design, the company continues to have difficulties and is once again reorganized. In 1982, John & Partner Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH takes over ELAC's marketing and distribution. A new Moving-Coil pickup, the EMC-1 is introduced along with new products.
In the mid 1980s, the company moved into the speaker business. From that time forward they begin developing new concepts of loudspeaker dispersion characteristics, room acoustics, and computer modeling of listening environment simulations. They acquired the AXIOM Elektroakustik GmgH speaker company and integrated the Linear Acoustic brand into ELAC.
1990 sees a new subsidiary named ELAC Technische Software GmbH (ETS). Through ETS they develop complex computer modeling and begin bringing new technologies to the speaker industry. They acquired the A.R.E.S. speaker brand. The Heil Air Motion Transformer concept if refined with their introduction of ELAC "JET" tweeters. The new focus in speakers and acoustic technologies resulted in industry recognition and numerous awards throughout the 1990s.
In 1997 they end production of pickups and further concentrate on loudspeakers. In 1998 they consolidate the JOHN & PARTNER and ELAC Phonosysteme into one company and once again take their original name of ELAC ELECTROACUSTIC GMBH. New innovations continue as involve themselves in developing loudspeakers for use in automobile air ducts, cinema sound and surround sound technologies.
The 1990s saw many industry awards and growing popularity, particularly in the Asian markets. By 2004, ELAC was the best known German speaker company in China.
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