Crown Audio, Inc., 1718 W. Mishawaka Road, Elkhart, IN 46517
USA 1947 to present
From its humble beginnings in 1947, Crown International grew to become one of the world's largest and most respected manufacturers of power amplifiers and microphones for professional audio markets.
Crown’s history traces back to 1947 and an Elkhart, Indiana minister named Clarence C. Moore (1904-1979). Moore, a longtime radio enthusiast, had spent the early part of the ’40s in Quito, Ecuador working for HCJB, a non-profit Christian broadcasting and engineering group.
Following his return to the United States, he felt the desire to supply Christian broadcasters like HCJB with quality electronic products. As a result, Moore founded International Radio and Electronics Corporation (IREC) in 1947 and converted a former chicken coop into the budding manufacturer’s first production facility.
The company’s early reputation was built on a family of rugged and compact open-reel tape recorders designed to operate reliably when used by missionaries in remote, often-primitive regions of the world.
After modifying and distributing several existing models (Magnecord, Recordio, Pentron and Crestwood) for the first couple of years, Moore obtained a patent in 1949 for a ground breaking invention: the world’s first tape recorder with a built-in power amplifier (15 watts).
Eventually, Moore’s wife and co-founder, Ruby (deceased 2002), suggested that ‘International Radio and Electronics Corporation’ was too long a name for the company. Since IREC had by this point produced vacuum tube tape recorders branded ‘Royal’ and ‘Imperial’, in addition to the fact that the emblem on those products was a fancy crown, she felt that the company should simply be called Crown.
Her husband agreed, and, in the ’60s, the company’s name was changed to ‘Crown International, a division of International Radio and Electronics Corporation’.
Over the years, state-of-the-art innovations have made Crown one of the most successful manufacturers in the marketplace.
By 1963, solid state electronics development allowed Crown to produce a more robust tape recorder, and in 1964, their first solid state power amplifier: the low-profile SA 20-20.
In the '60s, the introduction of the DC300 high-powered, solid-state amplifier offering 150 watts per channel at eight ohms and AB+B circuitry moved Crown into a leadership position in worldwide markets.
Well over 30 years later, many DC300s are still faithfully being used in professional audio applications.
A fire destroyed 60% of the Crown facility on Thanksgiving Day 1971 and rendered much of the remaining building severely damaged. US$1 million of uninsured assets were lost.
The plant was rebuilt, and D-60 amplifier production was brought back on line within six weeks.
Finally, in 1975, the stockholders voted to change the name of the corporation to Crown International, Inc.
Acquired by Harman International in March of 2000, Crown has continued to move forward, producing numerous innovative designs.
In 2002, 55 years after Mr. Moore founded the company, Crown has more than 500 employees and over 1600 dealers worldwide.
Crown ads and photos over the years
Crown tape recorder improvements include separate electronic and transport sections, push button and relay control, and remote control
The Gold Crown Stereo X recorder includes several innovations in component electronics.
The first solid state, professional quality tape recorder is invented at Crown.
Crowns first solid state amplifier, the SA 20-20, is an industry first, low-profile unit (1 3/4 inches high).
Crown raises the bar once more with the introduction of the DC-300 amplifier. It is the worlds first reliable, solid-state, high-power amplifier. Rated conservatively at 150 watts per channel, the amplifier features extremely low distortion and noise. Two years after its introduction, High Fidelity magazine calls it the worlds best stereo amplifier.
The Pro 800 Series tape recorders feature a logic-controlled transport.
Thanksgiving Day, 1971
Fire destroys over 60% of the Crown facility and the remainder of the plant is severely damaged. $1 million of uninsured inventory destroyed.
Production resumes within 6 weeks with the D-60 amplifier.
1975 International Radio and Electronics Corporation becomes Crown International, Inc.
Crown ends tape recorder production
More About Crown
In 1947, Clarence and Ruby Moore began by modifying existing makes and models of tape recorders to make them more rugged. In 1949, Moore obtained a ground breaking patent, the first tape recorder with a built-in power amplifier for public address duties, which was introduced in 1950. In 1953, Crown added a line of compact loudspeakers as accessories to the reel to reel tape recorders.
The Crown DC300, introduced in 1967, helped define the era of modern power amplifiers
In 1959, Crown began making standalone tube power amplifiers. By 1963, solid state electronics development allowed Crown to produce a more robust tape recorder, and in 1964, their first solid state power amplifier: the low-profile SA 20-20. In 1967, the DC300 was introduced as the first AB+B circuitry amplifier with 150 watts per channel at eight ohms. The DC300 proved very popular with sound reinforcement system owners and moved Crown into a leadership position in terms of power amplifier sales worldwide. As well, the DC300 was seen as a breakthrough product by commercial sound system contractors seeking to power their constant voltage speaker systems without the frequency response limitations and power losses associated with output power transformers which had previously been required.
In 1971, the grounded bridge amplifier design was invented by Crown, allowing greater output power without increasing amplifier size and also gave lower distortion, less thermal stress and greater reliability. The first grounded bridge product released by Crown was the M600 amplifier (1974) primarily employed for commercial sound installations including constant voltage loudspeaker systems. Crown received a patent for the invention in
1974, After proving itself in the field, the topology was used to design the Microtech MT-1000 in 1984. Further development of the grounded bridge yielded the Macrotech line which set a new standard for touring sound reinforcement in 1992 with the MA-5000VZ.
In 1976, Crown patented the synergistic equalizer,releasing the stereo EQ-2 graphic equalizer which used a combination of shelving-style tone controls and eleven active frequency adjustment faders per channel. The faders were connected to constant bandwidth, variable Q, 1/2-octave filters placed on octave centers but with adjustable frequency knobs to shift the center frequency for greater flexibility. A limited number of units were sold to audiophiles and audio researchers.
By 1977, all of Crown's tape recorder products had been phased out.
In November 2007, after 40 years of service, the Crown DC300 was inducted into the TEC Awards TECnology Hall of Fame in New York on the opening day of the Audio Engineering Society's 123rd convention. George Peterson, executive editor of Mix magazine, said of the DC300 that it "was a classic that really ushered in and defined the era of the modern power amplifier."
In 1979, Crown introduced the PSA-2 & SA-2 power amplifiers with analog computer control of transistor performance to maximize output characteristics. The FM-1 stereo radio tuner was praised at the Consumer Electronics Show. In 1981, the FM-2 with digital tuning was released.
A line of Pressure zone microphones (PZM) was introduced by Crown in 1980, culminating in the PZM-30 series in 1990. Other microphones introduced by Crown included the PCC-166 directional boundary microphone in 1986, the tiny GLM series and the patented differoid CM300 in 1987. The SASS stereo microphone was patented in 1989. Garth Brooks was the first performer to wear the Crown CM311 headset microphone in 1993.
The CM700 studio condenser was introduced in 1995.