Two new high end car audio brands have come to US shores recently. Both are distributed by ARPA, the long-time owner of Zapco, which now distributes Zapco and other brands.
One of the new brands to the US is ESB, which won a European EISA award this year. And another is Audio Wave, LTD based in the UK.
ESB is an Italian speaker company that was known in Europe for its home audio products. It left the home market (allegedly plagued by competition from Chinese knock offs) and shifted to car audio. It briefly sold products in the US around 2006, withdrew, and returned to the US in January of this year with all new products. It offers only speakers including universal speakers and drop-ins for Mercedes, Audi and BMW with Volkswagen and other car brands to follow.
ESB claims a highly realistic, live music sound. The brand is sold through about 24 dealers in the US currently, but the company notes, it is only in the early stages of its US introduction since it landed here just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
ESB has an entry 2000 series with 2-way systems that start at $300 and a mid-level line that is just now launching, called the 5000 series, starting at $650 for a 2-way system. The company won “Best Car Speaker System” from EISA for the 8.6K3U LE in its flagship 8000 series. It uses a 1.1-in Torcon soft dome tweeter and 3- inch cellulose fibre-coned midrange on the same plate, plus a 6.5 in woofer to complete the system. EISA said it offers “great sound, aided by excellent power handling and low distortion.” The 8.6K3U LE sells for $3,000.
Among the new car-specific ESB models is a front speaker replacement system for Audi that starts at $900 and a 2-way system for BMW at $500.
Audio Wave is based in London. It supplies hand made car audio amplifiers. Even some of the internal components such as the op-amps are also hand made. The products are made-to-order but ARPA is starting to stockpile a few models. They cost between $3,000 and $34,000! There are currently only two Audio Wave dealers in the US. Chris Pate of Mobile Toys, TX ordered a custom 6-channel amplifier that is now part of the Audio Wave catalog, said ARPA President John Borges. ARPA is now stocking some of the monoblock amplifiers that range from $5,000 to $10,000 each.
Not quite new to the US, but worth mentioning is a third ARPA brand, Dynaudio, a Danish company making home and car speakers. Dynaudio has focused mainly on home audio so “the car side has not got the attention it deserves,” Borges said, adding, “We see a huge growth potential in Dynaudio. Original investigations into the distribution indicated that the biggest problem was dealers not knowing where they could get it.”
The Dynaudio Esotar 110 tweeter and 430 midrange at $2,000.00/pair each “are among the gold standard products in the industry,” Borges claimed. The Esotec line is the company’s best seller with systems ranging from $1,200 to $2,500. Dynaudio is also introducing this year Esotan MkII Systems ranging from $600 to $1,200.
Photo: Audio Wave LTD amplifier