Neutrik: 35 Years of Innovation
Aug 31, 2010 12:00 PM, By George Petersen
Bernhard Weingartner founded Neutrik in 1975 with two employees in a barn in Liechtensteina small country approximately the land area of Washington, D.C. From those humble beginnings, Neutrik has grown to be a major international supplier of connectivity products.
The early years
Previously with AKG, Weingartner developed the successful CMS interchangeable-capsule microphone series. He also worked on AKG's reverb products and the classic C 414 mic. Despite his long tenure with AKG, Weingartner decided to try something outside audio and took a job with Hilti, a leading maker of demolition tools and air drills.
In the mid-1970s, the XLR was gaining popularity as a standardized microphone connector, although no European company was building them. Weingartner left Hilti and seized the opportunity, and with a single order for 5,000 XLRs from a large broadcast supplier, Neutrik was born. Weingartner used the concept of a drill chuck (thanks to his engineering days at Hilti) to create an XLR where a threaded rear cover put pressure on a three-sided strain relief to hold cables in place. Another Neutrik innovation was a screwless XLR that simplified assembly while eliminating connector failures from lost screws in the field.
Fueled by EU mandates regulating systems carrying more than 34V (such as pro power amp outputs) Neutrik unveiled Speakon in 1987, the first connector designed specifically for speaker cables. Now offered in 2-/4-/8-pole versions for mono- or multi-amping, Speakons prevent arcing damage if disconnected under load andunlike 1/4in. and banana plugsare touch-proof and lock into place. Today, Speakon is the accepted world standardno easy feat in any industry.
A 1992 innovation was Combo, which put a 1/4in. TRS jack in the center of a female XLR receptacle. A perfect example of "why-didn't-I-think-of-that-first," Combo saves valuable real estate on today's I/O-packed gear and simplifies hookups in this pro/semipro world.
New directions, new technologies
Weingartner retired, with current CEO Werner Bachmann (who joined Neutrik as its second employee in 1975) continuing the company's excellence in legacy products, while looking into new technologies.
With audio and data communications moving to Cat-5 and Cat-6 networks, Neutrik introduced etherCon, a series of rugged, lockable RJ-45 connectors optimized for pro audio/video/lighting applications. This was followed by the opticalCon range of fiber-optic connections with individual plugs and jacks carrying as many as four light streams in a dust-protected, road-tough connection. More recently, Neutrik launched its multimedia line of plugs/jacks and chassis connectors for handling USB, HDMI, and FireWire data.
After 35 years of developing and producing innovative products, Neutrik shows no signs of slowing down. Earlier this year, the company announced its DIWA digital wireless audio technology. Operating in the 5GHz band, DIWA offers high-quality digital transmission without data compression, yet with low latency and excellent interference resistance. Shipping this fall, Neutrik's Xirium multichannel digital wireless is the first product based on the DIWA technology and combines digital send/receive lines in one system.
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