If you are looking for a warm, rich sound experience in a Bluetooth wireless speaker and have an appreciation for artistic design, look no further than Riverwood Acoustics.
Spotlight on Business recently caught up with Ben Seaman, co-founder of Riverwood Acoustics, to see why musicians and consumers are calling their product ‘the perfect speaker’ with a ‘state of awesome tonal quality’ that the founders confidently agree is unrivalled.
This incredible product was the brainchild of Ben Seaman, who came up with the idea after watching large historic timber logs drift onto the shore of the Ottawa River. Seaman wanted to find something to craft with the wood as he noted that “the density and patterns are tremendous.” Then one day while cooking in the kitchen and listening to music on his cheap Bluetooth speaker with poor sound quality, it struck him that the wood could be used to create a truly high-end, beautiful speaker system. He reached out to his friend Scott Rathwell with his idea to design and build a speaker using 100% reclaimed riverwood and Rathwell jumped on board immediately.
Both Seaman and Rathwell share a love of the environment and the Ottawa Valley. Seaman’s 20 years of design engineering experience in audio, digital, and acoustics with major speaker companies, coupled with Rathwell’s extensive engineering background in product development and passion in woodworking came together in a perfect fit. They excitedly sketched their concepts on napkins and quickly drew up a mock prototype. In the beginning, they had six prototypes with different wood types and finishes, but in 2017 whittled it down to their two favourites for product development. Riverwood Acoustics is literally named after the type of wood that creates their superior product.
To help readers better understand the history behind the riverwood, Seaman shares the story of the “old growth” timber that was harvested more than a century ago during the booming timber trade of the 1800s in the Ottawa Valley. The trees grew in a pristine environment consisting of lower light, cooler temperatures and optimal soil conditions, resulting in a wood that is denser and tighter grained than the woods of today.
Aware that the density of the wood imparts tone and that wood provides unmatched acoustics, the craftsmen engineered two speakers that musicians and music lovers rave about. The full range drivers can tolerate the highest and lowest volumes to provide a full sound stage for parties or soft easy listening relaxation. Country music artist/songwriter Jason Blaine provided his endorsement. He raves, “Love the history and sound…It’s got bass for days!”
Riverwood Acoustics currently crafts two speakers. “The Hudson” is a premium solid wood Bluetooth speaker and the “Madawaska” is a premium solid wood bookshelf speaker.
The Hudson wireless speaker boasts a powerful 50-watt amplifier, Bluetooth 4.3 AptX and premium acoustic components and is described as ‘a hand-crafted acoustic masterpiece.’ The product is ultra-dense with three-quarter inch solid birch enclosure that imparts superior tone. Although compact, this speaker delivers maximum volume that has the capacity to fill a room.
The Madawaska bookshelf speaker also has a three-quarter inch solid birch enclosure and imparts superior tone. Audophile grade, dual full range 3-inch drivers are coupled with twin mount passive 3.5-inch passive radiators that provide perfect acoustic reproduction. Engineers injected a high quality 100 V non-polarized electrolytic capacitor with ultra-low dissipation factor for acoustic bliss. These studio monitors can also be combined with any amplifier to create the perfect stereo or multi-channel system.
What makes the speakers unique is that they are created in small batches to ensure the highest quality. Each product is handcrafted with precise cutting tools and clamped in a custom vice network to ensure a perfectly sealed enclosure and strength. The speakers are then sanded and finished with a triple walnut finish of custom varnish and lacquer coating. Finally, hand soldering using Silver blend for electronics amplifier and speaker termination is completed in the Renfrew production facility and then tested before transitioning to quality control for final verification.
In addition to the company’s commitment to meticulously creating high-quality handcrafted products, they also honour the deep love they have for the earth’s waterways and environment. Riverwood Acoustics employs local eco-divers to retrieve the riverwood, deemed ‘lost treasure’ from the Ottawa River. The company was awarded the Ottawa Network’s 2018 Bootstrap Green Award in recognition of their efforts. Riverwood Acoustic also won the Renfrew County RC100 $100,000 Startup Competition in 2019. Seaman says that, “Winning the RC100 has helped take our startup to the next level. We have established our R+D centre of excellence plus manufacturing facility in the downtown Renfrew core. Additionally, we have started selling our first product line and are receiving worldwide attention. The support system from the CFDC through RC100 has been instrumental to our growth and creating a “sound” future for Renfrew County.”
The company not only promotes environmental sustainability by responsibly sourcing their wood, but also commits to economic sustainability in their local community. They employ six people in sales, marketing and manufacturing and source local subcontract companies for woodworking processing to cabinetry. Over seventy per cent of all product in the speakers is sourced within a 150 km radius of the Ottawa Valley.
When asked what it is like to work at Riverwood Acoutics, Seaman describes ‘a focus on fun while designing a cool, unique product.’ All employees are active in the concert series and enjoy meeting artists. They also share a passion for giving back to the local community. The company has donated thousands of dollars’ worth of their speakers to charities such as SickNotWeak, Ottawa Boys/Girls Gala, CityFolk Music, Caloabogie Disaster Relief and many others. Seaman proudly boasts, ‘at silent auctions, our speakers typically generate the highest bid.”
Some might find the price tag for the speakers, ranging from $599 to $799, a little bit steep however, this product is built to last a lifetime. This niche brand, lifestyle product caters to consumers with an appreciation for art and quality. Speakers are traditionally hidden away, but these beautiful works of art are meant to be admired for their modern design and sleek beauty, as well as their incredible sound.
The company’s target customer tends to be middle-aged males with an interest in woodworking and refined style. However, Seaman says he recently had parents buy the speakers for their lucky (son or daughter) as a university graduation present. According to sales, “High end sound has no bounds.”
Currently Riverwood Acoustic speakers are being sold in Canada and the States through the Shopify platform on their website. The company offers free shipping, a 30-day return policy and a lifetime warranty. If you are in Ontario, the company has several demo locations. They have partnered with other amazing companies who also support the buy local vision so you can also check out these other companies’ offerings while experiencing Riverwood’s award-winning sound. For information about where to have a listen, check out their website at riverwoodacoustics.com.
Seaman revealed that the company’s next endeavour is the creation of a surround center speaker. This product is currently in design phase and Seaman expects it will be ‘an absolute game changer in the surround bar market.’ Look out for this product in early 2021!
Sounds to us at Spotlight on Business like you won’t find better or more beautifully designed speakers on the market.
For more information about this historic, artful, unrivalled company, check out their website at riverwoodacoutics.com, call (343) 882-7806 or email Ben Seaman at email@example.com or Scott Rathwell at scott@riverwood acoustics.com.
by Christ Rideout