It’s not easy to build a brand in the car audio world of subwoofers and amplifiers. Especially when you are 23 years old.
But that’s what Jacob Fuller did with Sundown Audio, which now ranks among the top in SPL (Sound Pressure Level) subwoofers. Currently, the company is riding a small resurgence in SPL subwoofers.
Between 2016 and 2017 Sundown’s SPL subwoofer sales grew by 45 percent. This year the company is expecting an additional 10 percent growth.
Why the gains? “In my opinion, it’s related to social media. People like to get on there and watch and want to do the same thing. The people casually into it see what the competitors are doing and they say, ‘Wow, I want to do that too,’” said Fuller.
Other suppliers also report a double digit increase in SPL subwoofer sales over the past two years, again, citing attention gained on social media.
SPL subwoofers are typically geared to play a single tone at the highest volume possible, but many suppliers say their subs are just as musical, and are simply designed to handle more abuse. SPL subs were big in the 90’s when sound off competition was at its peak.
Fuller guesstimates the SPL subwoofer niche accounts for about $20 million in sales annually.
Sundown just began shipping a new Nightshade V.4, now with neodymium magnets. It replaces the V.3, shaving off 30 pounds with 25 percent more power handling, says Fuller. He expects to sell about 1,000. The NSV.4 is rated at 2,500 watts power handling but Fuller says many will use it with a 4,000 watt amp. It comes in 4 sizes, 10, 12, 15 and 18-inches. The 10-inch has a $999 retail price. The 18-inch has a $1,189.99 retail price.
Sundown started in 2006 out of Fuller’s garage. Employee number two was his high school buddy Brandon Sparks, now head of operations. The company has 15 employees and sells 80 models of subwoofers alone. In 2013, it moved from 30,000 square foot building to a 100,000 square foot warehouse.
“It was my hobby with Brandon in high school and college. I knew I wanted to start a business of some kind and wanted to do something I enjoy. I learned anything I possibly could. When I started I was re-coning subwoofers,” Fuller said.
The first two products were amplifiers imported from South Korea—the SAZ1500D and SAX100.2. “I knew people in the business who hooked me up with manufacturing. We did well and the company was growing but people kept coming at me saying you need to make subwoofers.” Sales really began to explode in 2009/2010 with the launch of the SA subwoofer value line with high power handling. The subs at $200 can handle about 1,000 watts.
Fuller’s philosophy of high power at a reasonable price is based on what he wants as a consumer.
I feel like a lot of the major brands just sat on their hands for many years and weren’t really listening to the consumer. “I was a customer. I knew what people wanted; it’s what I wanted. I make it how I would want it if I had that much money,” said Fuller.