New 360-degree speaker can be controlled via smartphone

by: JOSH KULLA - DJ Steve Aoki, right, signs an autograph at Sol Republic headquarters during a party celebrating the release of the companys Tracks headphones in 2012.Wilsonville company Sol Republic is continuing to build its reputation and reach in the key 15- to 28-year-old demographic with the release of a new wireless speaker product dubbed DECK.

Known internationally for its high-quality line of audio headphones, Sol Republic recently announced the release of DECK, along with a new line of headphone colors that are compatible with Motorola’s popular Moto X smartphone. A new series of in-ear and on-ear headphones in compatible colors with a single-button remote and microphone also are part of the launch.

The Moto X Android device was also released and is designed to be compatible with DECK, a small, portable speaker that offers 360-degree surround sound.

With a wireless range of up to 300 feet, DECK also offers the so-called “Heist” mode, which allows up to five people to control the music selection coming out of DECK. The twist is that one user can “heist” the device and play what he or she likes.

“So if you don’t like my John Denver, you can heist DECK and change it to your Dave Mathews,” said Sol Republic co-founder Scott Hix.

The company was created in 2011 by Hix, together with partners Kevin Lee and Seth Combs. The trio developed Sol Republic as a lifestyle brand and have focused their marketing attentions on what they call the “echo boomer” demographic of 15- to 28-year-old tech-savvy consumers.

Their first large-scale product release came in April 2012, when the company hosted a large celebration at its Wilsonville warehouse to celebrate the new Tracks line of headphones. Tracks proved to be an instant success, backed by the key endorsement of internationally famous DJ Steve Aoki.

“I’ve been part of Sol since day one,” Aoki told the Spokesman at that party. “I love these guys, I believe in the company, I believe in the direction they’re going and I’m with them for the long haul.”

In addition, the company also secured a distribution deal with Apple that really helped the company take off.

Also key, Hix said, was the arrival of DJ culture in the mainstream. That proved to be a boon for Sol Republic during its early days. Now, the company intends to build on its earlier success in an attempt to further lock up its key markets.

“We found lots of synergies,” said Hix, describing the partnership with Motorola. “They wanted the benefit of our knowledge of the 15-to-28-year-old echo boomer demographic and our acoustic understanding. We were interested in their wireless protocol and technology.”

Sol Republic has 85 full-time employees split between Wilsonville and San Francisco. It has shipped 2 million headphone units into the market and has raised at least $27 million from investors since its formation barely two years ago.

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