Pro Audio Reference: PRO AUDIO NAMES

Pro Audio Company Names: Mysterious Initials - What They Mean

Information contained in this work has been obtained by the Author from sources believed to be reliable. However, neither AES nor its authors guarantees the accuracy or completeness of any information published herein and neither AES nor its authors shall be responsible for any errors, omissions, or damages arising out of use of this information.


ABLETON Cofounders Brian Berk and Bernd Roggendorf explain that it is a combination of "able," as in capable, and "ton," as in tone.

ACE Audio Composite Engineering. Now in a strategic alliance with QSC.

ACO Pacific from ACOoustics.

Acoustic Fields Founder Dennis Foley explains: "In a small room, you have many different sound fields or "acoustic fields" that are created through the proper application of absorption and diffusion technologies. The term Acoustic Fields was thus chosen in our prototype stage as it is an effective description of the outcome of our work... plus it is easy to remember!"

ADA Company founder David Tarnowski originally scripted the logo as "A/DA" and is believed to stand for "Analog to Digital Associates." Later shortened to just Analog Digital Associates. A very early digital audio company begun in 1985.

ADAM Advanced Dynamic Audio Monitors

ADC Audio Dynamics Corporation

AEI Music Audio Environments Inc. Now merged with DMX Music.

AKG Acoustics Akustische u. Kino-Geräte (Acoustic and Cinematography Equipment)

AKM Asahi Kasei Microsystems Co., Ltd.

ALEMBIC From the device, an apparatus consisting of two vessels connected by a tube used for distilling liquids, i.e., a device that purifies or alters by a process comparable to distillation. [AHD] "Specific: Alembic utilizes all available materials and in their quest to learn, focuses their efforts in their factory and produces the purest of electric guitars and basses available." [From their website — hit the link for the whole fascinating logo story.]

ALESIS A loose acronym for Algorithmic Electronic Systems adjusted to make spelling and pronunciation easier. One of two companies born from the ashes of MXR (Alesis is now owned by inMusic).

ALLEN & HEATH Looking for a place to manufacture in 1969, the founders, Steve Batiste and Andy Bereza (inventor of the Portastudio for TASCAM), took over a ball bearing factory named Allen & Heath. They liked and kept the name thus avoiding the time-consuming and expensive British company registration process.

ALLISON RESEARCH After the name of Paul C. Buff's first wife. See PAL STUDIOS.

ALTEC LANSING All Technical Products plus Lansing from partner James B(ullough) Lansing, who left in 1946 to form a new company: JBL.

AMCRON American Crown A registered trademark of Crown

AMEK According to founder Graham Langley, there is no particular significance to the name, which, of course, translates into "None of your business."

AMPEG Amplified Peg In 1946, Everett Hull, an accomplished pianist and bass player, organized a partnership with Stanley Michaels under the name "Michaels-Hull Electronic Labs." Their mission was to produce a new microphone pickup that Hull designed. The pickup was fitted on the end of an upright bass and was dubbed the Amplified Peg or "Ampeg" for short.

AMPEX After the initials of founder Alexander M. Poniatoff plus EXcellence in 1944.

AMPHENOL American Phenolic Corporation Selected by founder Arthur J Schmitt, in 1932, whose first innovation was the mass-produced radio tube socket.

AMS Neve Advanced Music Systems, now merged with Neve, after Rupert Neve, father of modern audio console technology.

AMX Modified initials for the company's original name: Advanced Microcomputer Systems, but due to conflicts with the other "AMS" (above), they made it "AMX" — changed to Panja in 1999, then back to AMX in 2001.

APB DynaSonics After founders Chuck Augustowski, John Petrucelli and Tax Bhogal in 2004. There were too many companies already called APB so they added a pair of audio terms, combing Dynamics and Sonics to get DynaSonics to make it different from simply APB, although that is what they prefer being called.

APHEX Aural Perception Heterodyne Exciter

API Automated Processes, Inc. also Audio Products, Inc. "Automated Processes" was chosen out of frustration to avoid the repeated name rejection by NY State when incorporating, according to Lou Lindauer, founder (all 26 of the names originally picked were rejected). When Paul Wolff bought the company in 1985, he could not continue to use the original name for legal reasons, so he came up with "API Audio Products." When he sold the company to the ATI Group in 1999, they incorporated under the original "Automated Processes" name. After the sale, Paul Wolff founded Tonelux Designs, Ltd., making modular recording equipment.

APT Audio Processing Technology

ART Applied Research & Technology One of two companies born from the ashes of MXR (ART is now owned by Yorkville).

Arup Acoustics After founder Ove Arup in 1946.

ARX Audio Research X Evolved from Audio Research & Technology after its initials became confused with those of Applied Research & Technology, so they replaced "& Technology" with "X" and registered it worldwide.

ASHLY Audio After Larry Ashley, one of the five founders of the original sound company (which evolved into design and manufacturing). They chose his name for the alphabetical advantage, then modified it by dropping the "e" to prevent conflict with another company; in addition, it added a little intrigue.

ASPI Digital Atlanta Signal Processors, Inc., now owned by and renamed Polycom.

ASTATIC Meaning a-static, that is, without static, from their original line of radio microphones.

ATI Audio Technologies, Incorporated. Founded in 1979 by principals Samuel B. Wenzel and Edward M. Mullin.

ATI Audio Toys, Incorporated. Founded in 1988 as Audio Teknology, Inc., the company later renamed itself to prevent confusion with the above ATI.

ATR (Ampex tape recorders) Ampex authorized service company started by Michael Spitz in 1991.

AUDIENT Founders David Dearden and Gareth Davies of DDA fame, derived the name from the Latin word audiunt, meaning "they listen." They selected audient meaning "to listen" or "to hear." The word audience is derived from the same Latin root.

AURALEX Founder and President, Eric Smith, explains: " The name was actually the result of some studied consideration. I wanted something that began with the letter A so as to get first positioning in lists. My marketing work and study had taught me that I
wanted to end the name with ex. Aural was a natural because of our line of work. The ex ending is short for excellence. I wanted 7 letters, as those have been proven to be some of the most memorable names. My first iteration of the logo had an ear instead of the Auralex burst we now feature. It was hideous. I still have the drawing. The A was sort of nested in the ear. After I drew it, I knew immediately that it wasn't a winner. I then thought of sound waves reflecting in a diffusive pattern off a surface ... and the physical shape of many of our products (the anechoic wedge shape, which has been proven to be the most efficient) ... and the Auralex burst was born."

AVI Audio Visual Innovations, Inc., now AVI-SPL.


B&K Brüel & Kjaer After founders Per V. Brüel and Viggo Kjærn, two Danish engineers in the early '40s.

B&O Bang & Olufsen After founders Peter Boas Bang and Svend Andreas Grøn Olufsen who started this famous Danish company in 1925.

B&W Loudspeakers Bowers & Wilkins, after founders John and Roy.

BASF Badische Anilin- und Soda-Fabrik Famous brand name, whose slogan is "The First Name In Magnetic Media."

BBE Sound Barcus Berry Electronics after founders Les Barcus & John Berry, inventors of the first piezo crystal transducer for a musical instrument. Today Barcus-Berry exists separate from BBE Sound.

BELLARI After David DiFrancesco's uncle, Albert Bellari, who immigrated from Italy in the early 1900s; a division of Rolls.

BEYERDYNAMIC After founder Eugen Beyer who started the company in 1924 in Berlin.

BGW Systems Brian Gary Wachner, founder.

BLUE Microphones Founded in 1995 by Skipper Wise and Martins Saulespurens, the original name was B.L.U.E., which stood for Baltic Latvian Universal Electronics. However, they moved away from the acronym and are now doing business as Blue Microphones.

BOSE After Amar Bose, Ph.D. professor at MIT, who founded the company in 1964.

BOZAK After founder Rudy Bozak, who is credited with designing and manufacturing the first DJ mixer, the Bozak CMA 10-2DL [“I should add, that while Rudy designed the front panel of the CMA-10-2DL, and specified all the features he wanted in it, it was I who designed all the electronics for it, and it was C/M Labs (after founders Chou and Morris) who built it for him, hence the designation CMA.” Wavemusic Community Board 2-13-08 post from Wayne Chou.] (see photos at Mick Coletti's MickMusicPage). UREI resurrected it after Bozak stopped production and issued their version as the famous UREI Model 1620, and much later (after UREI stopped production) Rane redesigned, modernized and sold it as the Rane Model 2016S.

BSS Audio Brooke Siren Systems after founders Chas Brooke and Stan Gould. Stan tells the story this way: "At the time that Chas and I started Brooke Siren Systems as a small private business, I was already trading as a freelance designer/consultant with the Registered Company Name of Siren Controls. Just for interest, I saddled myself with this name more by way of accident than design. My very first commission was to design and build a Mobile Discotheque for a "friend of a friend of a friend" in the 1970s. It was a tight budget job, and the facia panels were homemade by myself, labeled with Letraset and finished with a spray can lacquer. In order to put a bolder logo on my fine piece of work without forking out for another sheet of transfers I had to come up with a workable anagram from the title block at the top of my single sheet of 10 point Helvetica, and with some bodging SIREN CONTROLS was my best effort. When we came to name BSS, I vetoed "Brooke Gould Systems", and offered the Siren instead. (Brooke Siren Controls abbreviated down to a shoe or sugar company - or something, hence 'Systems'.)"

CAD Audio Conneaut Audio Devices from Conneaut, OH, their original location.

CADAC Clive, Adrian, David and Charles The initials of the first names of the founders in 1968: Clive Green, Adrian Kerridge, David Bott, and Charles Billett.

CALREC Calder Recordings; shortened from Calder Valley Sound Recording Group

CARVIN In 1949, founder Lowell Kiesel changed the name of his company, started in 1946, from Kiesel Electronics to "Carvin," a contraction of his two eldest sons' first names, Carson (now President) and Gavin.

CEDAR Audio Computer Enhanced Digital Audio Restoration

CERWIN-VEGA Originally named Vega Associates by founder Gene Czerwinski, who upon incorporation in 1973 added a shortened anglicized version of his last name as a prefix.

CITRONIC Manufacturing began in founder Richard Wadman's garage in the English town called Bromham. Being in a small village, Wadman's house existed on a plot of land that did not have a street name. The house was built on "Site 2" on a designated plot of building land. It became known therefore only as Site 2 which, through usage, came to be called "cittoe". Eventually the address became Cittoe, with no number. When Wadman registered the company he combined his house name and a shorten form of "electronic" to form Citronic.

CLAIR BROTHERS After founding brothers Roy and Gene Clair in 1966. See: History Files: The Genesis of Clair Bros to Today

CROOKWOOD Founded in 1992 by cofounder Crispin Herrod-Taylor, " ... the name comes from the name of farm in southern England where Crispin grew up. The farm is very old, and is mentioned in the Doomsday book of 1068AD. This was a book essentially compiled to work out how much tax could be charged to all the landowners. Nothing changes hey?

King John (1166-1216AD) used to go hunting deer in the actual Crookwood, so named because it resembled the shape of a shepherd's crook. This probably makes Crookwood the oldest name in the audio business!" [From website.]

CROWN Founded in 1947 as the International Radio and Electronics Corporation (IREC) by Indiana minister Clarence C. Moore and wife, Ruby. The name was changed to Crown International in the 1960s when suggested by Ruby, based on their popular tape recorders, "Royal" and "Imperial," with their distinctive crown emblem. This also ended exporting disputes over the "'Royal" and "Imperial" brands. Later on, similar disputes created the use of the registered brand name Amcron (acronym for American Crown).

CTI Audio, Inc. Conneaut Technologies, Inc. from Conneaut, OH, their location.

CTS Chicago Telephone Supply after the location and original product line when founded in 1896.

DAR Digital Audio Research

DAS Dynamic and Sound selected by founder Juan Alberola in 1971 in Valencia, Spain.

d&b audiotechnik After founders Jürgen Daubert and Rolf Belz in 1981.

dbx decibel expansion from founder David Blackmer's unique expander technology. Blackmer went on to create Earthworks.

DBZ Guitars Dean B. Zelinsky Guitars after original founder of Dean Guitars.

DDA Dearden Davies Associates, after founders Gareth Davies and David Dearden, whose new company is Audient

DEAN GUITARS After founder Dean Zelinsky in 1977, whose new company is DBZ Guitars.

DEERING Banjo Company After founders Greg and Janet Deering in 1975.

DEMETER Amplification After founder James Demeter in 1982.

DENON A contraction created from the merger of Denki and Onkyo. Hit the link for the fascinating 100+ year history.


DiGiCo Believed to be an abbreviation for digital console but requests for confirmation go unanswered.

DIGIGRAM Digital Graphic Music, since in its early days the founders Philippe Girard-Buttoz and Marian Marinescu worked on sequencers and editors.

DK-Technologies Denmark Technologies

DMX Music Digital Music Express Now merged with AEI Music.

DOD David Oreste DiFrancesco, founder, whose new companies are Rolls and Bellari.

Dozmia Nicholas Rubright explains: "After many attempts and domain name searches, we came up with Dozmia - a weird combination of the words discography, which is defined as a musicians entire catalog of recordings, and media."


DPA Microphones Danish Pro Audio Microphones Selected by founders Morten Støve and Ole Brøsted Sørensen, in 1992, when B&K decided to spin-off its pro audio division and these two former employees took over the microphone business.

DRAWMER After founder Ivor Drawmer in 1981 in Yorkshire, England.

DTS Digital Theater Systems

DUKANE Dupage and Kane counties in St. Charles, IL, the county boundaries where they are located; originally named Operadio when they first manufactured battery-operated radios.

DYNACO Dyna Company. David Hafler's most famous company, founded in 1954.

DYNACORD Founded by the Bavarian engineer Werner Pinternagel in 1945. The original name was 'Funktechnik und Gerätebau, Ing. Werner Pinternagel'. His first successful product was an mixer-amplifier with the name Dynaphon (Mix of the word dynamic and the greek phonos for sound). He used the success of his product and renamed his company to Dynacord Ing. W. Pinternagel, and distributed under the brand name “Dynacord.” [Thanks, FA.]

EAW Eastern Acoustic Works 

EG&G Edgerton, Germeshausen & Grier Company founded in 1931 by MIT professors - Dr. Harold Edgerton, Dr. Kenneth F. Germeshausen and later joined by Dr. Herbert E. Grier. Acquired Reticon®, a leader in solid state imaging and low-noise CCDs (their analog delay lines formed the heart of early audio delay & reverb products) and Vactec, an optoelectronics technology and application leader (whose products were very popular in early audio compressor and limiter designs). Today the company's name is PerkinElmer.

ELAC Electroacustic Gmbh. (aka Miracord) German company known primarily for their turntables produced from the '50s through the '70s. What is not so well known is that in 1957 they invented the technology that created the first moving magnet phono cartridges. Today they are still leaders in loudspeaker technology.

EMI Electric and Music Industries Ltd.

Eminence Speaker Named after Eminence, Kentucky, their original location, founded in 1966 by Bob Gault (1925-2002).

EMT Elektromesstecknik Famous German company that invented the plate reverb.

EMTEC European Multimedia Technologies, formerly BASF Magnetics,

E-MU Systems Electronic Music Systems

ENSONIQ Name created by founder Bob Yannes from the made-up ensonic — replacing the "c" with "q" because Compaq was getting lots of publicity with its start-up company in 1983. (The official corporate site is now combined with since being acquired by Creative Labs.)

EV Electro-Voice Founder Al Kahn (with Lou Burroughs) built a PA system for Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne to use when he was in his coaching tower. Rockne called it his "electric voice." Mr. Kahn reworked it to "Electro-Voice" and changed the original name of his company from Radio Engineers to Electro-Voice. [Thanks to Keith Clark, Editor of Live Sound International for the info and the confirming research.]

EVENTIDE The original company name was Eventide Clockworks, chosen by founder Richard Factor because "eventide" means "evening" and he started out by making digital clocks for DJs after hours. Today, in addition to his role running Eventide, he is busy helping to privatize SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence), serving as the SETI League's first president.

FAIRCHILD RECORDING & Fairchild Semiconductor After founder Sherman M. Fairchild in 1931 and 1957 respectively.

FENDER After founder Leo Fender in 1946.

FOCUSRITE An off-the-shelf shell company name (a pre-registered U.K. legal entity) used initially to quickly establish a company, normally changed after startup, however Rupert Neve liked it, because it proved memorable and many people find it analogous to accurate listening.

FOSTEX Believed a combination of FOSTer (parent company) plus EXcellence.

FRIEND-CHIP Berlin based company for digital studio technologies. The name is a pun typical of the freaks scene located in the early '80s in West Berlin, which was a kind of social and cultural island at that time. [Thanks, FA.]

FSR Fitzsimmons, Sandri and Rodriguez, the initials of founders Bill Fitzsimmons, Janice Sandri and Charles Rodriguez who started the company in 1981.

FURMAN After founder Janet Furman Bowman in 1974. She sold the company to an investment group in 1999. Furman is now owned by Panamax, a manufacturer of power conditioners; both companies are subsidiaries of Nortek, Inc.

GALLIEN-KRUEGER After founders Bob Gallien and Rich Krueger in 1968.

GAMBLE After founder Jim Gamble, who got his chops being the senior engineer at Tycobrahe Sound Company.

GCI Technologies Gemini, Cortex and iKey, its three divisions.

GEFELL The name of the town in Germany where Georg Neumann moved his illustrious microphone company (begun in 1928 in Berlin) during WWII, after it became impossible to manufacture microphones in Berlin.

GEITHAIN This producer of studio monitors is named after the small German town of Geithain and was originally named 'Musik Elektronik Geithain'. The company was founded in the former East Germany as a private two-man enterprise which was later expropriated by the communists. [Thanks, FA.]

GENELEC Genius Electronics

GHS Strings Gould, Holcomb and Solko, the initials of the original founders that started the company in 1964.

GIBSON After founder Orville Gibson in 1894.

G&L Guitars After the first initials of founders George Fullerton and Leo Fender.

GLYPH Named after a symbolic figure that is usually engraved or incised. Since "glyphs" contain recorded history and in many cases stories or multimedia, it is a natural name choice for Glyph Technologies storage connotations. The logo is Hunab Ku, the Mayan god representing the milky way (Mayan astronomers developed the 365-day calendar based on the stars movement). Hunab Ku was the "maker of movement and measure."

GML George Massenburg Labs After founder George Massenburg in 1982.

GRADO After founder Joseph Grado, in 1953, inventor of the modern moving coil phono cartridge, and inductee into the Audio Hall of Fame.

GRETSCH After founder Freidrich Gretsch in 1883, in Brooklyn, New York.

GRUNDORF After wife and husband founders, Susan & Frank Grund, in 1984.

GSA Gary Stewart Audio

GT Electronics Groove Tubes Founded by Aspen Pittman in 1978, now owned by Fender.

GUILD Guitars Founded in 1952 by Avram "Alfred" Dronge and George Mann, the name came from a close friend, Gene Detgen, who suggested it. He was an Epiphone rep and partner at Pacific Music Supply. The name came from an Epiphone power amplifier sold by Pacific Music Supply. Since Pacific Music Supply was going out of business Dronge and Mann invited Detgen to go to work with them.

Harman After founder Sidney Harman.

HEDD Heinz Electrodynamic Designs Founded by Klaus Heinz formerly of Adam Audio.

HHB Communications Half-Human Band: name of their rock group in the '70s.

IED Innovative Electronic Designs (now AtlasIED)

ICEpower Intelligent, Compact and Efficient A division of B&O dedicated to digital audio power conversion technologies and products.

ILIO Hawaiian word for dog, selected by founder Mark Hiskey and his wife after spending lots of time in Hawaii and having a map of Hawaii in their kitchen while trying to come up with a company name. Scanning the map for interesting names resulted in Ilio Point at the Northwestern tip of Molokai named for its dog-ear shape. They liked it since it was short, easily pronounced and represented an area they loved.

Inter-M International Media

IREC International Radio and Electronics Corporation See: Crown

IRP Industrial Research Products

ISP Technologies Intelligent Signal Processing New company formed by James Waller who founded Rocktron in the early '80s and sold it to GHS Strings in 2000.

IVIE Technologies After founder A. Ray Ivie in 1965.

iZotope Coined by the original founders (including now CEO, Mark Ethier and CTO, Jeremy Todd): "It was created in an MIT dorm. Isotopes are variations of the standard atomic building blocks of the universe. In a similar way, our products take the standard building blocks of audio and enable customers to add their own variations. It also represents our focus on innovation — that being “a little different” strikes to the core of our identity as a company, even down to the atomic level. As for the Z, we just thought it looked cool.” [CEO, Mark Ethier]

JANDS J and S After founders' Bruce Jackson and Phil Storey last name initials, the company was initially called J & S Research Electronics, until someone suggested the name JANDS, all taking place in 1967.

JBL James Bullough Lansing After selling his interests in Altec Lansing, he started a new company using his full name, which soon became known by his famous initials.

JVC Japan Victor Company

K2 Audio Founder Rich Zwiebel, whose previous company was Peak Audio, said it was easy coming up with K2 Audio since it is the second highest in the world, making it ... "even higher than all those other Peaks in the world."

Kaltman Creations After founder Mark L. Kaltman in 2006, starting off with the first pro audio handheld motorized cable coiler, now specializing in RF spectrum analyzers.

KAMAN (pronounced like the word 'command' without the 'd') After founder Charles H. Kaman. Now KMC Music.

KEF Kent Engineering & Foundry, by founder Raymond Cooke in Kent, U.K.

KK audio labs After founder Keith R. Klawitter

KLARK TEKNIK After founders and brothers Phil and Terry Clarke in 1974.

KLEIN + HUMMEL After founders Walter Hummel and Horst Klein, who started near Stuttgart, Germany in 1945. Now a subsidiary of Sennheiser. The brand is now integrated into and discontinued by Sennheiser.

KORG Keio + Organ Founder Mr. Tsutomu Katoh, along with Mr. Tadashi Osanai, started Keio Electronic Laboratories in 1962 named after the nearby railroad line. They liked the name because Keio (pronounced kay-oh) also represented the first initials of their names. Years later when they decided to manufacture organs designed by Fumio Mieda, the name was changed to Korg, a derivative of Keio Organ.

KOSS After founder John Koss, in 1958, the inventor of the first stereo headphones.

KRK Systems Keith R. Klawitter, founder, in 1986, who now owns KK audio labs; KRK is one of the Gibson Pro companies.

KV2 AUDIO After founders Jiri "George" Krampera and Marcelo Vercelli in 2002. Spin-off from Fussion Audio acquired by Mackie in 1998.

LAB.GRUPPEN "Lab Association" is an accurate translation of the original Swedish name selected in 1979 by electronic engineer founders Kenneth Andersson and Dan Bavholm. The use of the dot was a stylish element selected to make their name stand apart from a field dominated by hyphens and spaces — little did they know what awaited them with the dot-com revolution of the '90s. The choice of the word "LAB" stemmed from the love of the Disney character Gyro Gearloose, the great engineer inventor created by Carl Barks, and the many cartoon signs marked "LAB" hung up to help Gyro find his way to the laboratory.

L-Acoustics French nuclear scientist Dr. Christian Heil originated the company as Heil Acoustics. As worldwide success grew, he chose to downplay his name in favor of promoting the entire company team. He opted for L-Acoustics since the letter "L" sounds very much like the French pronunciation of Heil.

LAKE PEOPLE Named after Lake Konstanz (Lake Constance) where they are located in Konstanz, Germany. [Thanks, FA.]

LINE 6 The pioneering company of guitar amplifier digital modeling, started out as an engineering consulting company called Fast Forward Designs, cofounded in 1985 by Marcus Ryle and Michel Doidic (who previously worked together at Oberheim Electronics). Fast Forward had developed products for several other companies, such as Alesis and Digidesign. In 1994 they began doing research into digital modeling of tube amplifiers, in hopes that this could lead to the start of their own line of products. In order to measure the properties of classic tube amps, it was necessary to turn them up loud enough to get them to distort. Since this was research for products they might develop themselves they wanted to keep it under wraps until it was completed, but the noise could make it a challenge to “keep quiet.” If a client was to visit their office, hearing blasting guitars would seem quite odd (especially since at the time they were working on keyboards, effects, and digital recorders). A “code phrase” was needed so that the amps could be turned off if one of the client companies was to come by the office. Fast Forward Designs had five phone lines at the time, so the receptionist would page through the office that someone had a “call on line 6” when a visitor would come by, and that meant that it was time to keep things quiet for a bit. When the research finally turned into the first product in 1996, it was time to come up with a brand name for it. “Line 6” seemed to fit the bill, and the rest is history.

MACKIE After Greg Mackie who previously founded TAPCO and Audio Control. Now a brand name for Loud Technologies.

MARTIN & Co. After German founder C. F. Martin in 1833. Guitar company.

MARTIN AUDIO After Australian founder David Martin in 1971. Loudspeaker company.

MARTIN PROFESSIONAL Name acquired through cooperation with a French smoke machine company by Danish founder Peter Johansen in 1987. Lighting company. Now owned by Harman.

M-AUDIO The "M" comes from their original name, Midiman, Inc.

MBHO Mikrofonbau Haun Obrigheim Translates roughly into "Handmade microphones by Herbert Haun, founder, in Obrigheim, Germany. Maker of legendary microphones since 1962, marketed variously as Peerless MT and MT Quart. For their first three decades, MBHO capsules and complete microphones were sold to other manufacturers; now they are sold direct through normal distribution channels. One favorite large diaphragm condenser model (MBHN 608 CL) is known as "the lollypop," while another popular pressure zone design (MBNM 630 C-N-PZ) is known as "the frog."

MC² AUDIO A mix of the founders, Ian McCarthy and Terry Clarke (cofounder of Klark Teknik in 1974), surname initials. [Note: Ian McCarthy latest adventure is being cofounder (with XTA cofounder) Andrew Grayland to form NST Audio.]

McCAULEY After founder brothers Tom and Pete McCauley in 1979.

MCI Music Center Inc. Founded by Jeep Harned (1930-2003) in 1955, he sold it to Sony in 1982. The combination of MCI design with Sony's manufacturing created years of legendary Sony/MCI consoles.

Mesa/Boogie Founded by Randall Smith in 1969, the name requires a two part answer: "The MESA name came about through Smith's other job, rebuilding Mercedes engines and repairing houses. He needed an 'official' sounding name through which to buy Mercedes parts and building supplies, and chose MESA Engineering. It was originally spelled with all capital letters but has been written as Mesa in recent years." [Wikipedia] And "Boogie" came from Carlos Santana's comment regarding the original hot-rodded amp: "Man, that little thing really boogies!" [Mesa/Boogie website.]

MEYER Sound After founders John and Helen Meyer in 1979; today located in Berkeley, California.

MIDAS Taken from the Latin and Greek mythology about the king of Phrygia whose touch was said to turn all things to gold. It is promoted that using a Midas mixing console would turn sound to audio gold — no matter who played through it -- the Midas Touch.

MIPRO Microphone Professionals

MOOG (rhymes with rogue) After founder Robert (Bob) Moog in 1972, changing his first company's name, R. A. Moog Co., which he started in 1953 to manufacture theremin kits, when he was 19 years old.

MOTOROLA Motorized Victrola Name by cofounder Paul Galvin (after teaming with William Lear) in 1934 for a dashboard radio they developed and demonstrated in a Studebaker. The original company name was the Galvin Manufacturing Corp. founded by Paul Galvin and his brother Joseph in 1928.

MOTU Mark of the Unicorn

MUZAK Music + Kodak

MXR "Mixer" Defunct company started by Keith Barr (Alesis), Terry Sherwood (ART) and Michael Liacona (Whirlwind) that spawned ART & ALESIS. Name and products resurrected by new owner Jim Dunlop.

NAD New Acoustic Dimension

NADY After founder John Nady in 1976.

NAGRA Polish for "It will record," coined by Polish founder Stéfan Kudelski who moved to Switzerland before establishing his company in 1951.

NEUTRIK Shortened form of Neuelektrik ("new electrical") to distinguish this company from a previous one.

NEXO Founders Eric Vincenot and Michael Johnson specifically chose a name — a letter grouping -- with no meaning in as many languages as possible, reflecting their global business vision. The company name seems not to offend anyone.

NHT Now Hear This

NILES Audio After founder Ivan Niles Zuckerman in 1978.

NORELCO Acronym for North American Philips (electrical) Company

NXT New Transducers Ltd.

OAP Audio O'Rouke Audio Products After founder Michael ("Mike") O'Rouke in 1974.

ORBAN After founder Robert "Bob" Orban in 1968.

ORTOFON Founded in 1918, this Danish company's name comes from the greek words ortho (or orto), meaning true or correct and phon (or fon) meaning sound, creating ortofon, meaning true or accurate sound.

OTARI The name of a small village where the founder Mr. M. Hosoda was born. The name Otari is actually derived from a Chinese word "o" meaning little and "tari" meaning valley, together meaning little valley; hence the little valley called Otari where Mr. Hosoda was born.

PAL Studios Not an acronym or initial, but simply the name "pal" meaning friend or buddy. The name of inventor, engineer, composer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist, Paul C. Buff's original recording studio in Cucamonga, CA where he recorded Frank Zappa (and taught him recording technology), as well as creating the original sound of west coast surf music (recording, for example, The Surfaris "Wipe Out" in 1962). The name was taken from his mother and stepfather's recording label named PAL. (Paul's day-job was at General Dynamics, which Frank Zappa nicknamed "The Bomb Factory.") His next company was named Allison Research after his first wife. In 1980 he merged Allison Research with Bob Todrank's Valley Audio and formed Valley People. The name derived from the 225-acre art/music colony he and Bob developed in the '70s. Paul's latest company is BUFF in Nashville

PANJA In 1999, the new name for AMX, purportedly (not confirmed) derived from a Swahili word loosely meaning "machete" used to describe their products that allow "cutting the ties" between the Internet and the PC. Changed back to AMX in 2001.

PAS Professional Audio Systems

PASO Professional Audio & Sound

PEAVEY After founder Hartley Peavey, a 1965 Mississippi State business graduate.

PENNY & GILES After founders Professor W. A. Penny and Mr. J. A. Giles, in 1955. Now a wholly owned subsidiary of the Curtiss-Wright Corporation started by the Wright Brothers shortly after their famous flight in 1903.

PEZ Derived from pfefferminz, the German word for peppermint. [This one is to see if you are paying attention.]

PHILIPS Shortened form for the original name: N.V. Philips Gloeilampenfabrieken meaning "Philips Incandescent Lamp Factory ." N.V. means Naamloze Vennootschap, literally meaning nameless partnership, analogous to a USA corporation. Named after founders, Frederick and Gerard Philips. [Thanks WP.] Now it is officially Royal Philips Electronics of the Netherlands. [Thanks RF.]

PICKERING & Co. After founder Norman C. Pickering in 1945; one of the founding members of the AES. Pickering is now owned by Stanton Magnetics.

PIGNOSE The origin of the name remains a mystery, although it was patented by Wayne Kimbell and Richard Edlund (U.S. Patent 3,860,755 Novel Portable Amplifier and Speaker), but the name, Pignose, was not mentioned.

PMC Professional Monitor Company Founded in 1990 by Peter Thomas of the BBC and Adrian Loader of FWO Bauch.

PMI Audio Group Founder Alan Hyatt started his company in 1992 in Palos Verdes, California, which is a peninsula, so he named it Peninsula Marketing & Import Company that quickly became shortened to just PMI. In 1999 the name was modified to PMI Audio Group after acquiring additional companies that includes these prestigious brands: Trident Audio Developments, Toft Audio Designs, Joe Meek, Studio Projects, Valley People and Tonelux.

PRESONUS Founder Jim Odom explains: "It's a funny story. Most people think it's a well thought-out name meaning a 'before-sound processing company.' But actually, I was reading a book about Akio Morita, cofounder of Sony, and he was talking about how they came up with the name for his company. It's actually a combination of 'sonus,' a Latin word for sound and 'sonny boy,' what some Americans called people from Japan after the war. 'Come here, sonny boy.' was one phrase that was used. So they took sonny and sonus and came up with Sony. We were working on a product called Premier back in 1994. So I took 'Premier' and 'Sonus' and came up with PreSonus right on the spot." Music & Sound Retailer, February 2008, page 26.

PRG Production Resource Group

PRS Guitars After founder Paul Reed Smith. Find the full story here.

PULTEC Pulse Techniques Picked by founders Gene Shank and Ollie Summerland in 1951.

QSC Quilter Sound Company after founder Patrick Quilter.

QUAD An acronym for Quality Unit Amplified Domestic and new brand name created by founder and audio legend Peter Walker in 1949, for his company founded in 1936 as The Acoustical Manufacturing Company.

RADAR random access digital audio recorder The world's first 24-track hard disk digital audio recorder, originally developed by Creation Technologies, and distributed by Otari. Today, the team that created RADAR bought that division from Creation and formed iZ Technology headed by the original founder, Barry Henderson.

RAMKO Research After founder Ramon Kohfeld.

RAMSA An acronym for Research for Advanced Music Sound and Acoustics; it is the pro audio division of Panasonic.

RANE An anagram made from the four letters common to the founder's, Steve Brakken, Rick Bernard, Larry Winter and Linda Brakken (now Arink), first and last names.

RAT Sound Systems Originally RAT Sound was an acronym for Recording Art Technical Sound, but since they rarely did recording it was soon changed to Reliable Audio Technology. The founder was Dave Levine, who everyone knows today by his adopted nickname: Dave Rat.

RCF Radio Cine Forniture

RCI Custom Products Created in 1992 as a division of RCI Systems, Inc., which was formerly RCI Sound, which was derived from Recording Consultants Incorporated. Originally founded in 1970 by Jay Kingery. The RCI Custom division was created and managed continually by Doug Macuch, Sold by Kingery to DMX Music in 2000, purchased by Macuch in February of 2006.

Rickenbacker After cofounder Adolph Rickenbacker (WWI flying legend Eddie Rickenbacker's cousin).

RealTraps Cofounder Ethan Winer explains, "My partner and I started the company in 2003 in response to the popular but minimally effective foam "bass traps" being sold. So our products are "real" bass traps that actually work well to below 100 Hz."

RLA Richard Long and Associates

ROLAND Picked out of the phone book by founder Mr. Ikutaro Kakehashi in 1972, because it satisfied his criteria for a name that was neutral sounding, not Japanese, American, or too exotic, and he liked the sound.

ROLLS Founder David DiFrancesco states, "Just a name we pulled out of the blue; it is short and "rolls" off the tongue."

ROYER LABS After cofounder David Royer.

RPG Diffusor Systems Reflection-Phase Grating Note the "o" rather than an "e" in Diffusor — it is the European spelling favored by Manfred Schroeder.

SABIAN Founder Robert Zildjian, in 1981, formed the name from the two first letters of the names of his three children Sally, Bill and Andy.

SADiE Studio Audio Disk Editor, but it is also Studio Audio Distribution in Europe for their German subsidiary, SADiE GmbH, and Studio Audio Digital Equipment for their American subsidiary, SADiE Inc., America, and for that nice human touch, it is the name of founder Joe Bull's grandmother. Interestingly, the small "i" was added in the beginning to clearly differentiate the company from the singer "Sade."

SEK'D Studio für Elektronische Klangerzeugung — Dresden (Studio for electronic sound creation — Dresden) [Thanks FA.]

SENNHEISER After founder Fritz Sennheiser in 1945, first located in Wennebostel, Germany.

SERATO The name resulted after three months of intense design and refinement by the four founding members who gathered weekly, questing for the perfect company name. The criteria were simple: a word no more than six letters long, a word not found in any dictionary of any language, a word so scarce on the Internet that it could be considered new, a word that remained a dot-com virgin, and a word that rolls off the tongue like hot butter. Many meetings and reams of randomly generated words narrowed the candidates to four. A vote was cast and "Serato" came into the world. [Thanks to founder A.J. Bertenshaw.]

SESCOM Scientific Electronic Systems Company

SHURE After founder Sydney N. Shure in 1925. Originally named Shure Radio Company, located in Chicago, it was renamed Shure Brothers after his brother, Samuel J. joined the company. Even though Samuel left the company in the '30s, the name was not changed until 1999, when it became Shure Incorporated.

SIEMENS After founder Werner von Siemens in 1847, inventor of the pointer telegraph.

SKB Sanderson, Kottman & Browne, after original founders Dave Sanderson, Steve Kottman and Doug Browne in 1976.

SLICK AUDIO was formed by IT and Pro Audio fanatics to provide the best technology for producing and creating audio recordings in the digital world. Our passion is providing the ultimate audio PC, computers, laptops and work stations for audio creation and production.

SONY Latin sonus (sound) plus English slang nickname Sunny (young, bright & cute), drop an "n" and voilà. In 1946, the company was founded by Mr. Akio Morita and Mr. Masaru Ibuka, and named Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corp. As the company grew and aimed at world markets, Mr. Morita changed the name in 1958, claiming that "Sony" was pronounceable in any language and easily remembered.

SPL Signal Perfection, Ltd., now merged with Audio Visual Innovations, Inc. (AVI) to form AVI-SPL.

SPL Sound Performance Lab

SRS Labs Sound Retrieval System

SSE Sigma Sound Enterprises Founded in 1976 by husband and wife team, John and Heather Penn.

SSL Solid State Logic

SSMT Solid State Micro Technology for Music; originally Solid State Music Technology, which changed when ownership changed; subsequently bought out by PMI, who was then acquired by Analog Devices, the current owner.

STANTON After founder Walter O. Stanton (1915-2001), inventor of the removable stylus assembly for magnetic cartridges. Original name was Stanton Magnetics, now part of the Gibson Pro companies .

STEINBERG After cofounder Karl “Charlie” Steinberg, who with fellow cofounder Manfred Rürup meet each other at a recording session for a German rock band. Rürup, a professional keyboard player, and Steinberg, an audio engineer, quickly realize that they have a common interest: the possibilities of computers in music production.

SWR Steve W. Rabe, founder.

TAD Pioneer Technical Audio Devices

TAKAMINE The factory is located in Sakashita, Japan, at the base of Takamine Mountain.

TANNOY A term coined by founder Guy Fountain in 1926 based on the metals "tantalum" plus "lead allow" which he used to create a better electrolytic rectifier.

TAPCO Technical Audio Products Company, Greg Mackie's first audio company founded in 1969, acquired by Electro-Voice, who retired the brand name, and was subsequently bought by Telex (now owned by Bosch Communication Systems). Name recovered by Greg Mackie and reissued by Mackie in 2003 as a new acronym for Total Audio Production Company.

TASCAM TEAC Audio Systems Corporation America; In the late 1960's TEAC formed a special R&D group named TASC (TEAC Audio Systems Corp.) for the purpose of researching ways to apply TEAC's recording technology for musicians and recording studios. TASCAM was established in 1971 for the purpose of distributing TASC products in the U.S. and conducting additional market research.

TAYLOR GUITARS After cofounders Bob Taylor, Kurt Listug and Steve Schemmer in 1974. Original company name was Westland Music Company because they thought they could grow enough to cover the west land. Their product was called Taylor Guitars after Bob Taylor. Eventually they dropped the Westland name and just became Taylor Guitars. [Guitar Lessons by Bob Taylor; Wiley, 2011; pp 41-42, ISBN 978-0-470-93787-7]

TC ELECTRONIC Only the founder, Kim Rishøj, knows for sure, but it is believed by some well-placed sources to be an anagram for "eccentric lot," and by others to be an abbreviation for a Danish term meaning "up in the attic," where the company was started — but Kim's not saying.

TEAC Tokyo Electro Acoustic Company; originally founded as Tokyo Television Acoustic Company in August 1953, but later changed "Television" to "Electro" and then just TEAC.

THAT Travaline, Hebert and Tyler, or Tyler, Hebert and Travaline,founders — take your pick. There is no T-name order priority — all previously worked at dbx.

THX® Ltd. (formerly a division of Lucasfilm Ltd.) The name comes from two sources: George Lucas's first film THX-1138, and a somewhat tongue-in-cheek reference to Tomlinson Holman's eXperiment, after their original technical director, patentee and creative force behind all things THX (who now runs TMH Corporation).

TL Audio Tony Larking, founder.

TOA Electronics Exact origin lost, however it is believed to derive from the two Japanese sounds closest to the original kanji characters representing the company. These were "to", possibly shortened from "toyo" meaning the East or the Orient (eastern Asia), or "toi" meaning "far," combined with possibly another contraction of "ajia" meaning Asia, or "wa" shortened form of "wafu" meaning Japanese, together they mean "Far East," or "Eastern Asia." Today, to emphasis the worldwide nature of the company, the name is spelled out T-O-A, not pronounced.

TOLECO Systems The Oliver Electric Company after the founder's cat. Today the cat's dead and the company's defunct.

TONELUX See API, now owned by PMI Audio.

TOSHIBA Originally known as Tanaka Engineering Works, they were Japan's first manufacturer of telegraphic equipment. It later became Shibaura Engineering Works, merged with Tokyo Electric Co. in 1939, and was named Tokyo Shibaura Electric Company, officially abbreviating it to Toshiba in 1978.

TRACE ELLIOT No Mr. Trace. No Mr. Elliot. Only a late night in a British pub, The Victoria, in 1979, where Fred Friedlein proclaimed he wanted a serious, professional sounding, double-barreled name (like Klark-Teknik, Mesa/Boogie, or Seymour Duncan). He selected "trace" since it referred to a sine wave and a wave was featured on Fred's other company's logo, the Soundwave music shop in Romford Essex/East London. Wanting the second name to sound very classy and British he accepted "Elliot" suggested by Andy Perry, their Australian technical designer. The company was sold to Kaman in 1992; bought back by management in 1997; and then sold again in 1998 to Gibson. Current ownership unknown but is distributed by Peavey in the United States.

TYCOBRAHE Sound Company Named after the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe by founder Bob Bogdanovich after learning about him in a college history class. Jim Gamble was his senior engineer before founding Gamble.

UA Universal Audio The original parent company of UREI, starting life as Universal Recording Corporation in 1946 by the legendary Bill Putnam.

UNIVERSITY Sound Products Founded near the campus of New York University by a group of students and graduates in 1936, hence the name. By the mid '50s they were located in White Plains, NY. Moved to Oklahoma City in 1963. [Thanks to Ted Uzzle for researching this info.]

UREI United Recording Electronics Industries Now operating under their original name: Universal Audio.

VAC Valve Amplification Company


WASHBURN After founders Lyon & Healy Washburn in 1883, in Chicago.

WHEATSTONE Founded by Gary Snow & his wife Kathy in 1974 as AudioArts Engineering, then incorporated in 1981 as Wheatstone after expanding into the broadcast market. Named after the electronic Wheatstone bridge, which Gary generalized to mean a device by which others are measured, thus a perfect company name.

WHISE ACOUSTICS Wal Huon Integrated Sound Equipment Originally an acronym for Whitty Huon Integrated Sound Equipment after the initial founders Tony Whitty and Graeme Huon. A new technology R&D company was created in the '90s by Graeme Huon and Wal Dower, thus the current variation. Graeme Huon calls this a reborn acronym or "recronym."

WHITE INSTRUMENTS After founder Gifford White (1913-2002) in 1953.

XFRM The electrical engineering abbreviation for transform, as in "Transforming the World One Idea at a Time," the company motto created by founder Dr. Richard C. Cabot, formerly CTO of Audio Precision, in 2002, as a vehicle to explore his continuing ideas for new devices and techniques in high-quality audio and digital signal processing.

XTA Founders Andrew Grayland and John Austin as well as co-owners Jack Kelly and Terry Clarke all worked previously at Klark Teknik (Terry's namesake), so since they were all ex-K-T associates the original idea was to call their new company "XKT" but not wanting to ruffle any legal feathers wisely decided to drop the "K" and add an "A" (for "associates" maybe). Today Jack Kelly likes to say that "XTA" stands for "crossroads of Technology and Audio applications," but we know better.

YAMAHA After founder Mr. Torakusu Yamaha who built his first reed organ in 1887. The original company name was Nippon Gakki Co., Ltd.

ZILDJIAN After founder Avedis Zildjian in 1623, and is recognized as the oldest continually family-owned business in America.

ZSYS z-systems from z-domain or z-transform, the mathematical space used in designing DSP algorithms — their primary product -- and coincidentally, works well with the founder's name: Glenn Zelniker.


Compiled by Dennis A. Bohn

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