From its humble beginnings in 1947, Crown International has grown to become one of the world’s largest and most respected manufacturers of power amplifiers, systems control products, and microphones for professional audio markets.
“Born out of a dedication to service and shaped by ingenuity, Crown has long retained a tradition for building products based on sonic accuracy, reliability and high value,” says Crown International president Blake Augsburger. “Today, 55 years after Mr. Moore founded the company, Crown has more than 500 employees and over 1,600 dealers worldwide, which is certainly a testimony to both the outstanding people and products that have been a part of our heritage.”
Crown’s history traces back to an Elkhart, Indiana minister named Clarence C. Moore (1904-1979). Moore, a longtime radio enthusiast, had spent the early part of the ’40s in Quito, Ecuador working for HCJB, a non-profit Christian broadcasting and engineering group. Following his return to the United States, he felt the desire to supply Christian broadcasters like HCJB with quality electronic products. As a result, Moore founded International Radio and Electronics Corporation (IREC) in 1947 and converted a former chicken coop into the budding manufacturer’s first production facility.
A mid-1950s picture of Clarence Moore and his son, Clyde, with a ‘few’ of Crown’s early tape recorders
The company’s early reputation was built on a family of rugged and compact open-reel tape recorders designed to operate reliably when used by missionaries in remote, often-primitive regions of the world. After modifying and distributing several existing models (Magnecord, Recordio, Pentron and Crestwood) for the first couple of years, Moore obtained a patent in 1949 for a groundbreaking invention: the world’s first tape recorder with a built-in power amplifier (15W).
Eventually, Moore’s wife and co-founder, Ruby (deceased 2002), suggested that ‘International Radio and Electronics Corporation’ was too long a name for the company. Since IREC had by this point produced vacuum tube tape recorders branded ‘Royal’ and ‘Imperial’, in addition to the fact that the emblem on those products was a fancy crown, she felt that the company should simply be called Crown. Her husband agreed, and, in the ’60s, the company’s name was changed to ‘Crown International, a division of International Radio and Electronics Corporation’. Finally, in 1975, the stockholders voted to change the name of the corporation to Crown International, Inc.
Over the years, state-of-the-art innovations have made Crown one of the most successful manufacturers in the marketplace. In the ’60s, the introduction of the DC300 high-powered, solid-state amplifier offering 150 watts per channel at eight ohms and AB+B circuitry moved Crown into a leadership position in worldwide markets. Well over 30 years later, many DC300s are still faithfully being used in professional audio applications.
Responding to market demand in the ’70s, Crown focused on professional audio. Pushing the envelope of computer technology, Crown launched the PSA-2 Power Amplifier with a built-in computer to maximize performance of its output transistors. Product diversification began with the introduction of the still-popular line of Pressure Zone Microphones (PZM) and TEF audio analyzer.
With the implementation of Grounded Bridge™ circuitry in the ’80s, Crown once again set the standard for amplifier innovation. Providing lower distortion, less thermal stress, higher acoustic output, greater reliability, superior power density and legendary audio quality, Grounded Bridge circuitry was integral to the engineering of the power-packed Macro-Tech and Micro-Tech amplifier lines. Used by many of the largest worldwide touring companies, these highly praised units spawned the Com-Tech amplifier series extensively used by sound contractors in some of the highest-profile installations around the globe.
The ’90s found Crown leading the way in the development of computer-controlled audio systems. Crown’s patented IQ System, the world’s first significant computer-controlled audio system, had been introduced in 1987, and, by 1990, was the most widely used system in the world. Expanded and refined with a growing line of supporting products and system software, Crown IQ Systems handle superstar tours as easily as small installations. Fueled by unprecedented sales and a multi-million dollar manufacturing expansion, Crown, in 1997, added another new milestone in audio technology with the introduction of the K2 amplifier featuring Balanced Current Amplifier™ circuitry offering innovative thermal and energy efficiencies.
With the company’s acquisition by Harman International in March of 2000, this millennium has already found Crown continuing to engineer forward-thinking solutions. Products such as the new CTs Series amplifier line, IQ-PIP-USP2/CN CobraNet™ DSP module, IQ-USM 810 processor/mixer and CE 4000 amplifier embody the reliability and innovativeness that have long been the manufacturer’s hallmarks. And with each product backed up by a three-year, no-fault, fully transferable warranty, Crown today continues to delight its customers with products that consistently exceed both specifications and expectations, even on the most demanding tours and installations.
Crown International senior VP of R&D Gerald Stanley, who originally joined the company in 1964 as a tape recorder line technician and amplifier design engineer, comments on Crown’s ‘secret’ for success over the years. “In an era of cookbook designs and buggy software, it would seem that the most basic lessons of history have been forgotten,” he says. “Crown’s recipe is simple: design, build and service each product as if you were the customer. This approach not only drives the product to excellence, it drives the people to be the best that they can be. The synergy is exothermic.”
Crown International, a Harman International company, manufactures amplifiers, microphones, and systems control products for professional audio markets worldwide, with corporate headquarters located in Elkhart, Indiana.