Having recorded his first session “in a real studio” as a high school guitarist, a young David Bock hit the ground running in the pro audio business. “Multitrack recording and its gear was something I had been interested in since discovering that the Beatles didn’t have to go to the radio station and play every time their songs aired,” jests Bock in recollection. “When I got to college, I lucked out and got a gig recording all kinds of music events live to two-track—and for money no less! My multitrack start was at Hyde Street Studios in San Francisco in the mid-80s, where I started on my first console restoration, a Helios from England, which appeared to have been stored in a smokestack. I later got to record great things on that console.”
Later, Bock started Soundelux Microphones with Oscar-nominated sound editor and Soundelux Post Production co-founder Wylie Stateman. This followed Bock’s stints at The Hit Factory in New York and Ocean Way in Hollywood. Though Soundelux Microphones was eventually shuttered by parent company Ascent Media, Bock had properly whetted his appetite for world-class recording and its associated transducers. “High-level recording studios are my frame of reference,” he offers.
Beginning as a recording engineer, Bock admits that he had no idea of how electrical and acoustic parts of microphones influenced their sound. “I just relied on my ears,” he explains. “So that initial guidance—what a mic sounds like, not what someone else thinks of it, what an ad says, or what an electrical engineer would say about the circuit—is what guides the company and products today. It’s taken a very long time to correlate what circuits to use and how the details affect the final sonic result, but we are confident about those correlations now. So, if a product is not something I would use in a studio, it’s not likely to get into production. That attitude is part of the company, as a majority of us have real studio experience.”
His high-end studio experience pushed Bock’s efforts from a one-man operation “into a real company,” he continues. “As we grow, we continue to expand the Bock line and have added a second brand [Soundelux USA] of products built at the same facility with the same build philosophy, but with price in mind.”
Bock’s brands comprise what is still a small company, so his employees must be savvy multi-taskers. “Most of the subcontractors are local and all final assembly and test is done at our location,” Bock explains. “We build our microphones to last or to be easily repaired, so we don’t have to put a lot of resources into support.”
As such, Bock practices what he expects, too, donning multiple hats while moving forward. “I handle all product research and development,” he explains, “making sure production standards are followed by continually interfacing with subcontractors, assembly, QA, etc. We have recently expanded our marketing team, which helps free up more of my time to focus on products.”
Though the U.S. market continues to provide Bock’s largest bloc of fans and customers, further worldwide development and expansion points to Asia as a promising market. “Product development for the next few years will continue to focus on the high end and mid-price segments,” he offers, noting that his customers are firmly within what would normally be considered mid- to high-end users. “Our Bock brand now has four microphones to satisfy the very top of the studio recording market, and we’ve just released a second microphone under the Soundelux USA brand, with the goal of widening our audience to those serious project studios and working pros who want to expand their microphone cabinet without breaking the bank.
Dealing with competition is straightforward for Bock and Co., he notes, and never reactionary. “By having unique products, which do not ignore value and resale value,” Bock’s brands have proven to be valuable, indeed. “In my opinion, it’s key to not react to your perception of competition directly, or it can become a rabbit hole you will be taken down on a leash. I am convinced that being reactive won’t win. It’s more important to follow your own vision. Fortunately, we have a deep pool of ideas that are based on years of audio recording experience.”
On that note, Bock Audio and Soundelux USA continue to develop new microphones and peripheral products while expanding their reach to new customers and new markets. “As manufacturers of professional audio products, we have to be discerning about the gear we make,” concludes Bock. “But I feel sometimes, as an industry, we get too caught up in specs, measurements and balance sheets…. At the end of the day, our ears determine quality. The way something sounds is ultimately the best reason to purchase and use a product. After all, we’re not making instruments to do brain surgery. We’re making instruments to make music.”