Pro Audio Reacts To Japan Disaster - ProSoundNetwork.com

Pro Audio Reacts To Japan Disaster

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New York, NY—The 9.0 Tohoku Pacific Coast earthquake and resulting 23-foot tsunami of Friday, March 11 off the coast of Japan have devastated the country and its people. At press time, the official death toll has passed 11,000, while more than 16,000 people are still reported missing, and an estimated 125,000 buildings have been damaged or destroyed. Japan’s Cabinet Office places losses to homes, businesses and infrastructure between ¥16 trillion and ¥25 trillion—roughly $185 billion to $309 billion.

While humanitarian efforts are now underway, the impact on the pro audio industry is only starting to be assessed.

Tom Sumner, senior VP, Yamaha Corporation of America reported, “Yamaha has sufficient inventory in place that can bridge any short-term demand. However, we are still assessing the full impact on and the stability of our supply chain.”

Component supply remains the big concern across the board; while Sony suspended operations at numerous production sites, variously producing everything from CDs to lithium-ion batteries, some were brought back online slowly in the days that followed, though a dozen remain either closed pending inspection or running intermittently due to planned power outages or availability of materials and components.

Component supply remains the big concern across the board; while Sony suspended operations at numerous production sites, variously producing everything from CDs to lithium-ion batteries, some were brought back online slowly in the days that followed, though a dozen remain either closed pending inspection or running intermittently due to planned power outages or availability of materials and components.

Facilities at Audio-Technica Japan, meanwhile, were not damaged by the disaster and have been only minimally affected by power outages.

With much of the pro audio manufacturing world dependent on the availability of semiconductors, the events in Japan have been cause for alarm, as the country is the world’s leading source of semiconductors and is responsible for 35 percent of global NAND Flash production, according to IHS iSuppli. Researcher Tom Starns of Objective Analysis explained, “Of the $300B of semiconductor chips sold last year, nearly $50B were sold to or within Japan, but nearly 25 percent of the world’s semiconductor production capacity is in Japan when you look at total square inches of silicon processed, so this is a vital region to the global industry. Additionally, over 60 percent of the silicon wafers that are the starting point for making a semiconductor chip are made in Japan, and these are sold all over the world.”

Charity music releases and events continue to appear at press time, and various businesses have also found ways to contribute. Beat- Port and Antares each announced on Twitter specific dates where portions of profits on product sales would go to relief organizations.

“Response was good; we saw a spike,” reported Marco Alpert, vice president of marketing at Antares, which gave its proceeds to Shelter Box. “We did the same thing last year after the Haiti Earthquake. Shelter Box was on the ground in Japan within 24 hours, so it seemed like another good fit.”

The state of Japan’s touring market remains largely up in the air, caught between planned power outages, logistics, economic woes and an emotionally fatigued public. Initially Yokohama City-based Clair Japan, the Asian arm of concert audio giant Clair (Lititz, PA), was unreachable for days. “We started the e-mails on Friday morning since we couldn’t get through on the phone,” recalled Greg Hall, business manager for Clair. “An e-mail turned up at 10 p.m. on Saturday— probably more to do with electricity and e-mail servers that were overwhelmed, but waiting to hear back for two days was hard. Luckily, all the employees and their families were safe and accounted for—that was our main concern. Also, there was no damage to the equipment on tour or in the warehouse either.”

Bringing an installer’s view to the event, noted audio designer/consultant Bob McCarthy of Alignment and Design, posted on his blog video shot during the earthquake, showing its effect on an audio installation he co-designed at Tokyo Disney Sea. “I well remember testing the emergency announcements over and over during the park’s creation, but never actually saw anything more serious in actual use beyond, ‘Sorry, rain. No show today,’” McCarthy recalled. “This puts those emergency specs all in perspective suddenly.”