Written by 6:00 am Audiophile

When a Good Audio Product Leaves Your Country

Steven Stone shares a high-tech abandonment story…


AR-Raumfeld4a450.jpgAbout two years ago I was contacted by a P.R. firm working for a company I hadn’t heard of. They wanted to send me some of their networked streaming devices for possible review. I acquiesced and about four weeks later three products arrived from Raumfeld Audio. The most interesting audio component was a small Bluetooth loudspeaker called the One S.

I wasn’t the only one to get a review sample. Sound and Vision also got one. Their opinion was very similar to mine – this was a remarkably good sounding Bluetooth loudspeaker that was more than competitive in sonic parameters to its competition.

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I pitched a One S review to my usual review outlets, and no one was interested in a review. That happens. I tried to contact the P.R. firm that sent the Raumfeld products for review so I could return them. I heard nothing in reply. I sent three emails, all with the same results – nada…

After a couple of months of staring at three packed boxes taking up space in my shipping area, I did some sleuthing to try to figure out if there was anyone out there who was involved with Raumfeld’s U.S. distribution so I could return these devices, with no luck whatsoever. As far as I could tell Raumfeld had just cut and run from the United States.

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It’s not as if Raumfeld has ceased to exist worldwide…if you do an Internet search you will find that the One S is still being made and sold, but not in the U.S. where even Amazon no longer lists it as available. But if you visit the Teufel audio site you will see that Raumfeld still makes and sells a variety of audio products in over twenty different countries, but the United States is no longer among them.

My solution to my particular problem was and is simple – when a product is orphaned like the One S, I donate it to the local ARC thrift shop. That’s fine for me, but what about the poor souls who actually bought the One S based on the glowing reviews, with statements such as “the mightiest mini speaker you’ll ever come across ” only to find themselves suddenly abandoned when it comes to support and warranty issues.

AR-RaumfeldSearch450.jpgAudio firms come and go. With some products, such as loudspeakers, even if the original manufacturer is long gone its often possible to “reverse engineer” to discover who made the original parts and replace them when they fail. The same can’t be said for a streaming device that depends on integrated circuits and continuing support from a manufacturer to remain viable. I know owners of thirty-year-old Dunlavy loudspeakers who’ve replaced every part, but the cabinets, and the loudspeakers are still working within manufacturer’s specifications. The same can’t be said for older streaming devices. While there are still some listeners using a Logitech Touch most have moved on to other network streaming devices that support all the current codex and streaming services’ capabilities.

AR-Raumfeld5a450.jpgI guess the good news is that at least the Raumfeld wasn’t too expensive at only $249 MSRP, unlike the $1995 Logitech Transporter. But at least the Transporter had a nearly ten-year run of usability…

So, what are the takeaways from this? I could go on a xenophobic rant and suggest that when buying high-tech products made by foreign companies you have a greater risk of being “orphaned.” But that would not be entirely correct. In Raumfeld’s case we had a company with virtually no track record in the U.S. trying to attain some market share, who failed. Were they under-capitalized? Were their products overpriced? Were they merely out-competed by entrenched players?  The answers to these questions will matter little to any consumer stuck with a Ruamfeld device…

AR-Raumfeld6a 450.jpgBottom line is when you buy a networked audio product you are not buying merely the hardware, but also the software and support. So, with networked devices I recommend spending more time considering WHO you are buying from as well as WHAT you are buying. While I would never recommend swearing off the offerings from a firm not made in your particular host country, I would advise consideration of a manufacturer’s size, past history, present product line, and potential future commitments to a market into your buying decision.

Finally, I hope the ARC thrift store doesn’t price the Raumfeld One S for more than a couple of dollars…

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