When you get invited to spend an hour or so on the phone with Dan Laufman, CEO of Jade Design — or the Man from Emotiva, as I like to call him — you don’t turn that opportunity down. Yesterday, Dan held a conference call with me and a handful of other journalists to discuss the acquisition of Bob Carver, LLC (which we first reported on back in April), the change in the distribution model for Bob Carver amps, new pricing models, etc. But, of course, this being Dan, things took a much more interesting turn toward the end.
First up, the product details. Manufacturing of all Bob Carver, LLC vacuum tube amps has been relocated from Kentucky to Jade’s headquarters in Franklin, TN. Production has been up and running for a few weeks now, and back-orders are being filled as a first priority before the shopping cart at BobCarver.com goes live in a few weeks so customers can start ordering the amps directly.
Not surprisingly, Jade is dropping the price of Bob Carver’s amps significantly, as a result of the increased (and more efficient) manufacturing process. The Black Beauty 305 (VTA305M) monoblock, which used to retail for $13,000 or so per pair, will now sell for $7999 per pair. The Cherry 180 (VTA180M) monoblock is dropping in price from $9,000 per pair to $5,999 per pair. And the Black Magic 20 (VTA20S) stereo tube amp I reviewed last year for Residential Systems is dropping in price from $2,100 to $1,690.
Laufman also revealed that a made-in-the-USA Bob Carver preamp is in the works, and for previous customers who bought a Bob Carver amp through a dealer, the company is going to offer a 50% discount on the direct price of the preamp — as yet unnamed — when it’s released.
The local manufacturing message was hammered home repeatedly during our chat with Dan, during which he also revealed that the process has convinced him that it’s time to kick his “Made in the USA” initiative into high gear for Emotiva products, as well. And that’s where things got really interesting. I only wish I had a recording of the call, because when I asked him how he can afford to bring manufacturing back to the Colonies, he drifted into one of the most inspirational and humorous speeches I’ve ever heard outside of Dan Carlin’s Common Sense podcast about work ethics, the job market, the manufacturing process, and even the American dream. The answer to my question was really twofold: firstly, manufacturing in China isn’t as cost-effective as it used to be; and secondly, if we as a nation are going to become a thriving force in the world economy again, we have to learn to make things again. To build things again. To give young adults an alternative to working at Starbucks.
Now, granted, I don’t think Laufman believes he can save the American economy single-handedly, but in the past few years Jade Design has gone from being a sort of curiosity in the AV market to an incredibly well-respected market leader, and a business model that no one thought would work at the time has turned into the new status quo. Mostly led by Laufman. So, I dunno, maybe he actually is crazy enough to save our economy, one incredibly affordable audiophile-caliber DAC or preamp at a time.
I know I’ll be rooting for him.
If I can get my front paws on a recording of the conference call, I’ll upload the tastiest bits later. For now, though, keep an eye on the BobCarver.com website over the next few weeks, and also keep an eye on Emotiva’s products, as Bob’s innovative designs slowly work their way into all of Jade’s products. As much as I love Carver’s amp designs, I’m almost more excited to see how his unique approach to power supplies eventually filters into Emotiva and Sherbourn gear. Dan also told us that new subs, speakers, and a tube-powered DAC are all in the works based on Carver’s contributions to the company.