Products designed in Germany always seem to carry a certain reputation. Sure, the Italians have fashion and the Japanese simplicity, but overall the reputation for technical quality seems to land in central Europe. Wavemaster has taken its European audio product designs and had them manufactured in the far east.
Speaking exclusively to KitGuru, managing director Peter Hirschfeld explains more about this fusion of cultures and benefits.
When KitGuru Labs reviewed the Wavemaster Stax speaker system last year, we got a pleasant surprise. In a straight head-to-head with Creative, one of the most popular speaker brands on the planet, the Stax blew the competition away. Not only was the audio quality significantly better, but the design was also much nicer and the materials used for construction seemed superior.
By the end of 2013, we had not seen a better overall offer and so the Wavemaster Stax walked off with our ‘Best of the Best Award 2013.’
Can you tell us a little about Wavemaster, Peter?
Sure! We are a manufacturer for high quality audio product. All of our technical design work is done by specialist engineers in Germany and we work with our Chinese manufacturing partners to ensure our prices are competitive. Essentially, you’re getting German audio quality with eastern value for money.
What did you do before Wavemaster?
I was managing director for another speaker company, based in Hong Kong. Effectively, I have spent a large part of my career in the audio market.
How did Wavemaster get started in Audio? What was your first product?
For us, Wavemaster history is divided into two eras. Before 2009 and after. Back in 1996, our engineers came up with a design that would be manufactured as the ‘Wavemaster 60’ speaker, which you can still find on eBay sometimes! However, in 2009 we decided to change the course of the company and all of our products underwent a radical overhaul. In fact, the MX3+ speakers are the only product to have survived from the old days.
What was the change in 2009?
Just ahead of the launch of the iPad, we had seen a big change in the market. Sure, there will always be a market for ‘2 small speakers that sit next to a PC’, but we wanted to use our expertise for something more. From simple, beige boxes, we decided to radically alter our design ethic. Wavemaster in 2014 is a completely different company. Our speakers are better – both from a technical engineering point of view and aesthetically. It is all about definition. Audio definition and design definition.
What about headphones?
Internally, the decision was made to investigate this market back in 2002. However, it only became a priority in 2009 when we could allocate a lot more design effort to that market. By 2011, we had started to produce some cool products and we’ll be seeing much more in this area over the next 12 months.
There is a lot of cross-over these days. Do you see Wavemaster as a gaming or entertainment brand?
Our products work well in a gaming environment, but we have a strong focus on the personal entertainment market. If I have to be accurate, then we consider ourselves an Audio brand first and foremost. We design all of our products to work well in multiple environments.
OK, as an audio brand, what are Wavemaster’s design priorities?
Excellent acoustic performance – this is always our number one priority. Simple, smart design – naturally elegant, with no compromise to audio quality. Finally, there is compatibility – so that users have complete flexibility in terms of inputs and outputs
Everything in life is ‘built to budget’, what is the balance point for Wavemaster?
Our overheads are small, so we can achieve a sensible profit even when our street price appears low. We focus our design efforts primarily on the European markets and work hard to give everything we do a sense of quality. This ability to create profitable products, that look like they should cost a lot more, is our balance point.
Do your products make sense for the channel?
We have a clean and stable pricing structure that allows our partners to make money with Wavemaster. At the same time, our design and audio quality distinguishes us from the competition. We are not a mass market brand that is available everywhere, which creates the ‘commodity’ feel. We produce products that occupy a different space and the price points are not so easy to compare with the old brands – which is great news for channel customers.
So will we be seeing a lot more from Wavemaster in 2014?
We have just refreshed the MX3+, STAX and Moody products, following the evolution of MOBI to MOBI 2. This has already generated a lot of interest and you will be seeing independent reviews on these products shortly. Wavemaster has a complete schedule of new launches for 2014, with some very interesting changes along the way!
Come on, give KitGuru readers an idea!
OK, well for 2014, one of the biggest drivers for Wavemaster will be Bluetooth. We were very successful integrating this into the MOBI 2 portable speaker system and many more products will be getting this upgrade soon. We needed to be sure that we maintained audio quality with this open technology, while at the same time opening up some great possibilities in terms of convenience and ease of use.
Will you open up new markets this year?
We will also be launching into more European countries in 2014, for sure, which is a positive reflection on our successful sales model.
Lastly, give us a quick look ‘inside Peter Hirschfeld’, what makes you tick on a personal level?
Well, I have been into computers since my very first 386 machine with a 32MB hard drive. In terms of sports, I have strange taste and love hockey (on grass, not ice!). In the kitchen, my best production is steak salad and when I am out, I love nothing more than Sushi/Sashimi. I’d love to tell you that I fantasise about tearing down the Pacific Highway in an open top sports car with a Hollywood actress, but it would not be true. I love spending time with friends and family back home.
Clean cut, simple design – including the speakers.
KitGuru says: Big THANK YOU to Peter for taking the time to speak with KitGuru about Wavemaster’s history as well as its plans for 2014. We’re looking forward to seeing updated versions of the company’ Stax speakers more than anything.