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AKM Fire Fallout: What’s Pro Audio’s Next Move?

Two weeks after a three-day fire ravaged AKM's factory that produces high-end DAC and ADCs, the pro-audio industry is still determining what to do next.

AKMNew York, NY (November 5, 2020)—Two weeks after a massive three-day fire ravaged the Nobeoka City, China factory of semiconductor producer Asahi Kasei Microsystems, pro-audio manufacturers around the world that are dependent on AKM’s high-end audio chips are still looking for information and determining their next steps.

AKM produces a variety of ADCs, DACs, ASRCs and Receivers for numerous pro-audio and high-end consumer audiophile manufacturers, including Solid State Logic, TASCAM, miniDSP, Merging Technologies, SPL of Germany, Focusrite, RME, Schitt Audio, SMSL, Monoprice and others. All of AKM’s audio-related chips were produced at the now-closed factory.

That all of AKM’s audio-related manufacturing could be wiped out in one fell swoop blindsided many of its customers. “We were unaware that only one facility manufactured the AKM DACs and ADCs—that shows how small our industry really is,” said Hermann Gier, managing partner of SPL of Germany. AKM officials have said publicly they hope to be operational again in six months, and the company is expected to engage independent fabrication houses in an effort to keep production going, but nothing concrete has been announced.

AKM Factory Fire—A Pro-Audio Industry Disaster

“I still have close to zero information as far as the AKM prognosis is concerned,” said Chris Hollebone, sales and marketing manager at Merging Technologies. “As far as we are concerned, we are taking stock, literally, over the weekend and trying to ascertain whether an order that was about to be delivered was destroyed in the fire or might still make it…. We have enough parts in-house to keep us going for a while, but not knowing when any production might start may cause us headaches down the line. It is a bit like COVID-19—very hard to predict!”

Paul Youngblood, director of Product Marketing at TASCAM, admitted “This has all happened so fast that all we can say is we are still in the process of analyzing the situation.” A spokesperson for RME echoed that sentiment, stating that company was “currently still ascertaining information, and it’s too early for them to comment.”

SPL of Germany’s Gier noted that his company was “fortunately…in a comfortable position,” adding that while it uses AKM converters in a number of products, including its Crimson, Madison, Phonitor range of headphone amps, and the new Marc One interface, among others, SPL has stocks in-house that it estimates will last between six months and a year, depending on the product.

That hasn’t stopped some from trying to capitalize on the situation, however. Gier noted, “It is unfortunate that stock brokers take advantage of situations like this, making it increasingly worse by charging ridiculous prices for remaining parts. We already rejected various unethical offers; now it looks unlikely that our industry can sustain production and keep the prices stable.”

For now, the pro-audio industry awaits news from AKM.

Asahi Kasei Microsystems • https://www.akm.com/us/en/

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