Altec Lansing, Inc.
Industry Audio electronics
Founded 1937[1]
Headquarters San Diego, California, United States
Key people Ross Gatlin (CEO)
Products Consumer loudspeakers, headphones, in-ear monitors
Owner(s) Infinity Lifestyle Brands
Employees 1000–1500

Altec Lansing is an audio electronics company, which manufactures professional, home, automotive, computer, and multimedia audio products.

Founded in 1937, the company originally serviced theatre sound systems, then quickly expanded into manufacturing horn loudspeakers. The Altec Lansing Duplex 600-series coaxial loudspeaker was popular for making studio monitors from the 1940s to the 1980s.[2] The Altec "Voice of the Theatre" line of loudspeakers was widely used in movie theaters, concert halls, and also in rock concerts from the 1960s to the 1990s, such as custom designs used at Woodstock Festival.

The Altec brand was bought by James Ling in 1958. By 1974, the brand was saddled with too much debt and was operated under bankruptcy laws. In 1984, Gulton purchased the brand. The brand was bought in the mid-1990s by Telex Communications who held it until 2000 when it was bought by Sparkomatic.


Conception and early products

In 1930, AT&T's Western Electric established a division for the specific purpose of installing and servicing their loudspeakers and electronic products for motion picture use. Named Electrical Research Products, Inc. and commonly referred to by the acronym ERPI, it was the target of an anti-trust suit brought by Stanley K. Oldden.[3] By 1936, Western Electric had shed its audio equipment manufacturing and sales division, bought by International Projector and Motiograph, and was looking to dissolve the associated service division. ERPI was purchased as part of a consent decree in 1937 by a group of ERPI executives, including George Carrington, Sr., Leon Whitney "Mike" Conrow, Bert Sanford, Jr., and Alvis A. Ward, with funding from three Wall Street investors. They reincorporated as "Altec Service Company", the "Altec" standing for "all technical".[1] Company executives promised they would never make or sell audio equipment.[1]

The Altec Service Company purchased the nearly bankrupt Lansing Manufacturing Company and melded the two names, forming the Altec Lansing Corporation on May 1, 1941. The first Altec Lansing power amplifier, Model 142B, was produced that same year. James Bullough Lansing worked for Altec Lansing, then in 1946 he left to found the James B. Lansing Company (JBL), another manufacturer of high-quality professional loudspeakers, which competed with Altec Lansing.

Altec Lansing produced a line of professional and high-fidelity audio equipment, starting with a line of horn-based loudspeaker systems. First developed for use in motion picture theaters, these products were touted for their fidelity, efficiency and high sound level capability. Products included "biflex" speakers where frequency range was increased by a flexible "decoupling" of a small center area of the speaker's cone from a larger "woofer" area; the 604-series of coaxial speakers employed a high efficiency compression driver mounted to the rear of the 604's low-frequency magnet, and exited through a multicellular horn that passed through center of the woofer's cone.

Altec Lansing also made the Voice of the Theatre systems. The smallest of these, the A-7, used a medium-sized sectoral metal horn for high frequencies, which featured dividers (sectors) to provide control sound dispersion, plus a medium-sized wooden low-frequency enclosure, which functioned as a hybrid bass-horn/bass-reflex enclosure. The most often used Voice of the Theatre system was the A-4, many of which are still in use in motion picture theaters today. The efficiency of all of these products originally provided high sound pressure levels from the limited amplifier power available at the time. The original Voice of the Theatre series included the A-1, A-2, A-4, and the A-5. The A-7 and A-8 were designed for smaller venues.

The early products were revised and enhanced over time with the addition of rubberized speaker surrounds and other modern features. Altec Lansing produced very large custom loudspeakers for Bill Hanley to use at the Woodstock Festival in 1969.[4] Some professional Altec Lansing products remained in use well into the 1990s.

Altec Service Co. and Altec Lansing Professional audio products

James Ling purchased the Altec Lansing Corporation from the ailing George Carrington, Sr., in 1958. By the time James Ling spun Altec Lansing off in 1974, his company, LTV-Ling-Altec, had heavy debts. In 1984, Gulton Industries, Inc., purchased the Altec Sound Products Division from the Altec Lansing Corporation, which was operating under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Included with the purchase were the tooling, parts and product inventories, distributor network, designs, patents, and assets of the Sound Products Division of Altec Lansing. The motion picture theater sound installation and repair business, Altec Service Co., was sold to J. Bruce Waddell, then head of Altec Service, and comptroller Robert V. Gandolfi. They established it as A.S.C. Technical Services in Richardson, Texas.

The Altec Lansing Corporation was formed by Gulton Industries as part of the purchase, and headquartered in Oklahoma City, the site of the University Sound factory built by Jimmy Ling when he moved there from White Plains, New York. Altec Lansing had relocated there prior to the Gulton purchase in an effort to reduce operating costs, selling their Anaheim, California facilities.

Altec Lansing Corporation produced professional audio products until 1995, when Telex Communications, who had purchased Altec Lansing's parent company, EVI Audio, Inc., in 1997, consolidated all of their electronics manufacturing facilities into one location in Minnesota.

Acquisition by Sparkomatic

In December 2000, Altec Lansing's Professional division was closed by Telex and the Altec Lansing Corporation was later sold to Sparkomatic and renamed Altec Lansing Technologies.

Professional line relaunched

The Altec Lansing Professional line was relaunched in April 2002 by Altec Lansing Technologies using former executives and sound engineers of the old Oklahoma City-based Altec Lansing Corporation, bringing Altec's professional and consumer products under the same roof for the first time since 1986. From 2002 Land Rover included Sparkomatic (Altec Lansing) speakers among its vehicle sound system offerings. The company later dropped the professional audio products and Altec Lansing Professional's Oklahoma City offices were closed in late 2006 and all remaining activities relocated to the Milford, Pennsylvania, headquarters.

Altec Lansing Technologies continues to expand

In 1996, Altec Lansing Technologies Multimedia established an R&D center in Kfar Saba, Israel. The center focused on advanced multimedia technologies such as USB audio, surround sound and wireless audio. The center was closed in 2001 and the development activities moved to the Milford headquarters.

Altec Lansing Technologies enters headphone market

On 30 April 2001 Altec Lansing Technologies launched their first line of headphones named as the AHP series. This series of headphones had various different designs and price ranges.[5]

Legacy products

In February 2004, Altec Lansing Technologies reissued a number of loudspeakers starting with the A7 Voice of the Theatre, manufactured in the US with some changes to the enclosure. Similarly, Altec Lansing Technologies reissued the 510, 508 and 305 loudspeakers.[6]

Acquisition by Plantronics

On July 11, 2005, Altec Lansing Technologies announced that it was to be acquired by Plantronics for approximately $166 million.[7]

Company redesign

On September 10, 2008, Altec Lansing Technologies changed its logo from a "whirlpool" to an abstraction of a multi-cellular horn.

Acquisition by Prophet Equity

On 1 October 2009 Altec Lansing Technologies announced that it was to be acquired by Prophet Equity for approximately 18 million dollars.[8]

Move to San Diego

In July 2011, Altec Lansing Technologies announced the opening of new West Coast headquarters in San Diego, California. Brendon Stead joined as Vice President of Product Management and Engineering. Stead was formerly the General Manager and Vice President of Harman International and Labtec.[9]

Acquisition by Infinity Lifestyle Brands

On October 18, 2012, Altec Lansing Technologies was sold for $17.5 million to the Infinity Group, which specializes in acquiring and turning around struggling or bankrupt consumer brands.[10]


External links

  • Altec Lansing's Unofficial Homepage - Large library of vintage Altec literature.
  • Altec Lansing User's Board - Discussion forum for users of vintage Altec Lansing products, including application techniques and other technical advice.
  • Altec-Lansing Forum at Vintage Audio (Many classic scans)
  • Altec Lansing History Another website with history and pictures of Altec Lansing.