Made In America
By Charlie Workinger
Is it possible to build an entire home theater from American speakers and electronics?
One of the wonderful perks of being an Audio Guy is the opportunity to be exposed to the vast array of audio and video equipment that passes through our office. This is also a curse, since exposure to so much new gear encourages a person to start dreaming of ever more intuitive combinations of equipment and more engaging home theater systems (such dreams have proven hazardous to many a wallet). A few months ago, I noticed a Triad subwoofer passing through, and I took an interest in the company. Most Triad speakers are built to order in Portland, OR, making them one of the few speaker companies that still manufactures their product in the USA. That discovery sparked a personal research project - could I design an entire home theater using only components manufactured in the USA? (A brief disclaimer before I reveal the results of my experiment – I make no claim that any of these components might be considered “budget”. There are certainly better price/performance values to be had in many of these categories, but that wasn’t the object of the project.)
Finding speakers was the easiest portion of my quest; Triad Speakers* was the obvious choice. Triad maintains an enormous catalogue, ensuring that they can provide speakers for any situation and any budget. In addition to their subwoofers, Triad also offers complete lines of in-room and in-wall main and surround speakers, ensuring perfect timbre matching across all channels. In fact, every in-room speaker that Triad builds has an in-wall equivalent, so customers never have to sacrifice audio performance for interior design.
As it turns out, two of the world’s most respected filmscreen manufacturers are headquartered in the United States. First is Stewart Filmscreens* of Torrance, CA. Since 1947, Stewart has produced the screens against which all others are measured. Stewart’s products are made of the most innovative materials and are manufactured to the absolute highest standards. The company has undertaken some of the most ambitious and innovative projects in film projection history. These screens reflect an absolutely spectacular image, as described here by Audio Guy owner, Clay Hankins. In addition to their stock sizes, Stewart can create custom screens for almost any application. Second is Severtson Screens* of Mesa, AZ. Severtson lists an impressive list of clients, including IMAX theaters. Their screens offer a variety of technologically advanced coatings that optimize the viewing experience for different locations with different lighting characteristics. While not quite as customizable as Stewart screens, Severtson’s products present excellent value and are all made in the USA.
One of the world’s most recognizable projector companies, Runco, is headquartered in Beaverton, OR. Runco distinguishes itself by providing cutting edge technology, including 3D and LED projection, and by devoting itself entirely to home theater projection. Many of Runco’s products carry THX certification, and their installation gallery is a testament to their high level of flexibility and functionality.
This category is a bit trickier. Most major manufacturers, focusing on including ever more technology and functionality while maintaining a low price point, have relocated their electronics manufacturing overseas. However, there are still a few excellent options for those specifically looking for a domestically manufactured product. Anthem* is the sibling company to Paradigm speakers. Though the company is headquartered in Ottowa, Canada, I thought that it would still be appropriate to include it in this post, since some of its manufacturing facilities are in the USA. Anthem has an excellent international reputation. In professional installations, its equipment is used by both NASA and the French national radio station (broadcasting from atop the Eiffel Tower), just to name a few. The technology behind Anthem’s products is developed in the Paradigm Advanced Research Center (PARC), which houses an anechoic chamber that is reputed to be one of the quietest places on Earth. This facility allows Anthem to conduct exhaustive testing on every new product before releasing it to consumers, ensuring incredibly exacting performance. Though Anthem’s product catalogue may seem a bit sparse, their focus seems to be on producing a few exceptional products rather than many mediocre ones. Some other companies that also manufacture excellent home theater electronics in the USA include McIntosh Labs of Binghampton, NY and Cary Audio of Apex, NC.
Finding domestically manufactured source components for a home theater was the most difficult portion of this project, since the DVD and Blu-ray revolutions have largely been led by companies based in Southeast Asia. However, there are some outstanding North American options. Do note that with all of the following products, you will pay a substantial premium for their expert craftsmanship and reference-grade performance. For video playback, you might consider the DX-5 Universal A/V Engine by Ayre Acoustics of Boulder, CO. The DX-5 is based on the world-class Oppo video decoding board, but the similarities to Oppo players end there. The engineers at Ayre have created a source component tailored for the most discriminating videophiles and multi-channel audio enthusiasts. Or, if your tastes run more towards computer audio or CD playback, you might explore the offerings from PS Audio*, also based in Boulder, CO. Their CD/DVD-A player and DACs are some of the finest in the industry, not to mention that their touch screen interfaces are absolutely stunning.
To think that I almost forgot power! It would be a shame to have all of this lovely Made in the USA equipment and then have nothing but the wall socket to send it power! Fortunately, PS Audio offers the perfect solutions in this category. Trusted by world-class recording engineers and home audio enthusiasts alike, these conditioners are simply excellent. From their Dectet Power Center to the immense P10 Power Plant, PS Audio has an array of power products that offer unmatched protection for your investment.
The research involved in writing this post has made it one of my most enjoyable to date. As I continue to upgrade my own theater, I look forward to including products by one or more of these companies. For more information on these and other Made in the USA products, and to discover how you can integrate them into your home theater system, just call the Audio Guy!
 Only Anthem’s A/V separates are manufactured in North America. The company’s receivers and integrated amplifier are manufactured overseas.
*The Audio Guy carries these products
By Clay Hankins, the CEO of The Audio Guy, LLC.