Art Powers, Sr., and his son Art Powers, Jr., have sustained Madison Fielding through the housing crisis and recession. Small family owned and operated manufacturers in the custom install business are a bit of a rarity these days, but Madison Fielding is one exception. Instead of the “mom and pop” moniker, it’s a pop and son management team dedicated to real hi-fi sound in highly custom packages, fully assembled in the same Port Chester, NY, building in which it was founded.
The self-proclaimed “30-year startup” has gone through its share of transitions since its founding in the ’80s, when it focused on producing high-end AV receivers, controls, and other luxury stereo equipment, which later expanded to loudspeakers, AV furniture, and the industry’s first planter speakers, introduced in 1999 and first demonstrated at CEDIA EXPO 2001 where “they were a big hit,” recalled Art Powers, Sr., president, Madison Fielding.
Powers and his son, Art Jr., vividly recall flying back from EXPO that year in high spirits on the evening of September 10, where their plane tipped for a view of the Twin Towers hours before they were brought to the ground the next morning. Their success at EXPO was, of course, overshadowed for the moment, but they chugged along in following years.
When the housing crisis and subsequent recession hit, the company was fortunate to weather the storm, and decided to pair down its product offerings and concentrate on building unique planter speakers.
Although Madison Fielding–the name of which was derived from a separate enterprise of the late audio legend Leonard Feldman who gave Powers his blessing to adopt the name in 1982–has remained under the radar to most custom installers outside of the Northeast, the firm has streamlined its dealer list from its high of more than 300, pre-recession, and has begun adding new dealers with the goal of expanding more nationally.
The current planter speaker line features the flagship Flagstone, offering the biggest sound; Flagstone Mini; Sedona, the first indoor/outdoor model; and Westport, wooden models that can be stained or painted to match décor, the shape of which is ideal for corner spaces where the sound is optimally amplified.
All Madison Fielding planter speakers feature down-firing, 360-degree reflecting rings to direct sound in every direction, regardless of placement. Drivers are weather protected with a seal between the tweeter and woofer, and a built-in drainage system bolsters the weatherization factor.
All Madison Fielding planter speakers feature down-firing, 360-degree reflecting rings to direct sound in every direction, regardless of placement. Drivers are weather protected with a seal between the tweeter and woofer, and a built-in drainage system bolsters the weatherization factor. A new poly mold has added to the ruggedness while allowing new color options. Currently offered in gray, black, limestone, and brown, more colors will be available soon.
The Flagstones encompass three individual speakers, independently dedicated to bass, voice, and instruments.
The resulting sound is nothing short of immersive, full, permeating sound even at low volumes. The layered, highly nuanced sound held up across the varying jazz and rock demos–from Leonard Cohen to Pink Floyd–that I heard upon visiting the company.
Just one planter packs enough punch, but they can easily be added to create full surround systems, including subwoofers available. The full coverage is what Powers said really sets these planters apart from other outdoor speaker systems on the market. The 360-degree sound covers more ground with one speaker while their main competitor goes for coverage with more speakers. “It’s not just outdoor background music, but real sound,” Art Powers, Jr., said.
The speakers are fully assembled in Port Chester, and the Powers have worked hard to source as many parts as possible in the United States, though this is admittedly challenging. They estimated the end products are 67 percent made in the America.
While Madison Fielding focuses on adding to its dealer base, the Powers are looking at new facilities to accommodate recent growth, as well as planned expansion. They have numerous new prototypes they are experimenting with, in varying sizes and designs to update their current offerings. They are even considering building amplifiers again, as well as the furniture, which they are equipped to bring to market for custom orders.
Lindsey Adler is associate editor of Residential Systems, Systems Contractor News, and Healthcare AV.