Onkyo, the legendary Japanese maker of high-end amplifiers, declared bankruptcy on May 14, ending an era for audiophiles and highlighting crucial lessons for rapidly changing business leaders.
The price/value ratio can both build and tear down a brand. The Onkyo brand was based on the quality and affordability of its amplifiers. Onkyo amplifiers are sonically powerful, well-built, and adaptable to a wide range of speaker types. They also enabled discriminating ears across much of the socioeconomic spectrum to hear rainbows of loud sounds. The exquisite M-588 is renowned, but even the simple TX-51, which has been in daily use for decades, demonstrates that Onkyo products punch well above their weight.
Onkyo has not been able to keep up with technological advancements. By 2015, its products were no longer high fidelity and affordable. Others offered comparable or better quality at even lower costs. Amazon.com and Best Buy have both confirmed that the new Onkyo models will no longer be available in summer 2020. Other retailers, including those in the UK, joined the parade.
Onkyo was contracting even as its market grew. Americans are listening to music at home more than ever. According to data from Neilsen, Americans listen up to 30 hours a week on average. Portable devices and nifty streaming services provide access to a wide range of new and interesting music, reclaiming radio’s position in the era of the “pre-selector” when DJs and program directors made decisions and that shareholders of radio companies generate money. Great musical discoveries await you once again, thanks to the Internet, HD, Flac and much more. All it takes is a good sound system.
Armies of former counter-bodybuilders, now as open to the brands of yesteryear as they were to the cultural authorities they once mocked, breathe the name “Onkyo” with cold reverence. The brand still has weight. Onkyo could have mounted a rebound with the right product-market fit.
Customers were confused and perplexed. Major audio brands have alternated between leading them and following them. For decades, we have been a global obsession for setting our streaming protocols compatible with 5G fiber optic wifi/Bluetooth touchscreens ready for network-audio-center 5.1 applications.