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View From The Top: PK Pandey of Symphonic Acoustics

PK Pandey, partner, Symphonic Acoustics, shares the studio monitor brand’s short but colorful history, as well as what’s ahead with the company’s new dual 8-inch monitor.

PK Pandey, Partner, Symphonic Acoustics
PK Pandey, Partner, Symphonic Acoustics

Miami, FL (June 30, 2020)—Symphonic Acoustics may not be the best-known name in studio monitoring—yet—but founding partner PK Pandey is okay with that. “We are a boutique brand and we want things done a certain way. We want to make the best possible product with no compromises.” The company’s loudspeakers aren’t for everybody, but they are in a number of high-profile studios, and with the release of Symphonic’s upcoming 8-inch monitors, they might wind up in yours, too.

“No compromises” might well be an appropriate motto for Pandey, too, as he’s taken that approach time and again, whether as part of a huge company or out on his own as an entrepreneur. After getting out of the commercial rose industry in the mid-1990s, Pandey hoped to get a job selling guitars at Boston’s Guitar Center, but he found the only open position there was in the pro audio department—a market he knew nothing about. Undeterred, he studied, passed the store’s exam, got the gig and rose to department manager within a few years.

Losing his taste for retail in 1999, he was planning to go back to the studio, but having caught the eye of corporate with his client list and sales success, was asked to stay to develop his business. In order to differentiate this new entity from the retail side of Guitar Center, he founded GCPro, Guitar Center’s B2B professional division, aimed at helping studio owners and professionals find solutions. “That was very successful, and in 2004, I handed my website over to Guitar Center and they essentially began doing business across the country using this model and branding,” he recalls. “Ultimately, it was built to become an $60-plus million division of Guitar Center.

“I wanted to become involved in project management, working on longer- term projects that lasted a year or more. I ended up becoming involved in a couple of large studio projects in New York for Jungle City, and Pepsi- Cola. It was a delight to do those projects and it ultimately led me to leave Guitar Center in 2015.”

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With newfound freedom to explore different areas, he founded AVN/SYS (AVN Systems), which designs, installs and maintains audio and video systems for clients in music creation, education, fitness, hospitality and more. Key among its offerings is studio design, which it has handled for commercial facilities, corporate entities like PepsiCo and Stitcher, and artists including Adam Young (Owl City) and Carter Burwell. “My clients and vendor partners were very supportive that I went on my own and started my own business,” he says, adding that while the venture is successful, it hasn’t been a walk in the park. “There are major challenges when you run your own business. There is a lot of strategic planning and you are always working, but you have the freedom to make your own decisions, and you learn from everything. Every failure is a learning experience, and you have to learn to survive.”

While AVN/SYS began in 2015, Pandey actually founded Symphonic Acoustics four years earlier, manufacturing speakers designed by studio monitor legend George Augspurger (who’s still working in the field as he nears 90 years old). “George didn’t actually build speakers, so he gave us his designs and authorization to build them—we could use whatever manufacturer or wood shop we thought was appropriate,” says Pandey. “We figured it out after a couple years and provided a large set to Jungle City in New York and another set to Alicia Keys—in the same building on 27th Street! Then we built a custom-designed system for Paul Epworth in the UK, who ordered a set [the Grammy-winning producer owns The Church Studios in London]. Following that, we sold three custom sets to Dream Asylum in Miami, Daddy Yankee in Puerto Rico, the artist Chris Brown and others as word started getting around. Most recently, we designed some systems for Tanta Studios in Japan, Francisco Saldana and the artist J. Cole.”

Regardless of who owns a pair of studio monitors, however, speakers ultimately speak for themselves—you hear what you’re looking for or you don’t. With that in mind, Pandey is dead set on people hearing exactly what they need to, and that affects every part of a product’s design, build, implementation and final tuning.

“When we are making decisions about the components we are using and evaluating the build quality, we refuse to take any shortcuts,” he says. “We are not in the business of manufacturing amplifiers, and processing and network equipment. We partner with all these kinds of people because they are the best at what they do and can adapt to the changes. As technology advances, we will adapt with those advances.”

Today, the company is a tightly run ship based in Boston and Miami, with manufacturing tackled in Massachusetts and other parts of the country; those locations will be joined soon by a demo showroom set to open in Miami. “I am leading the charge, and we have Blake Courtney, who is our designer and does some initial prototyping,” says Pandey. “We also have Brendan Hathaway, who is our mechanical engineer; he does a lot of our drawings and testing, and also coordinates with manufacturing. One important note is that we work closely with George Augspurger. This is our main team, but then we have our manufacturing team and a small marketing and PR team to help us get the word out. All our manufacturing is done in the United States and we are very nimble as a company.”

That ability to move quickly will no doubt come in handy as the company readies its upcoming dual 8-inch monitor, which Pandey expects “will be more accessible to the studio market because of the size, not because of the price. This new product will open up a whole new market for us in smaller rooms … even project studios will benefit. We are seeking distribution worldwide, but already have some great dealers like Westlake Audio, Mix Wave Japan and Vintage King on board for our large-format monitors.”

For now, the company is on the move, growing at a controlled pace, and that’s just how Pandey likes it. “We don’t just want to expand our product line for the sake of establishing a broader portfolio; everything we do is purpose-based. For both me and Symphonic, the relationships are what is driving our success, and music is the common thread for everything we do.”

Symphonic Acoustics •