Giving the devil his due

A small components shop grew into Europe’s biggest direct online seller of loudspeakers. Lautsprecher Teufel is a success story – made in City West

Sascha Malla Photo: Manuela Steinemann

Called simply “devil” in German, Teufel was founded in Berlin by a man named Peter Tschimmel back in 1979 as a components shop for DIY loudspeakers. Since then, this devil has grown into a household name in Germany for quality audio, and the company’s new flagship store in the Bikini Berlin shopping center is an audiophile’s paradise.

The company moved its entire operation to Bikini Berlin on the Budapester Straße in August. The upper stories house research and development teams, customer support, marketing and management. The basement, now home to an open acoustics laboratory and several showrooms, was once the location of the legendary “Linientreu“ discotheque, the center of Berlin’s New Wave scene in the 80’s where the likes of David Bowie, Nick Cave and Iggy Pop were regular guests.

“We were in the Bülowbogen commercial complex for ten years,” said Sascha Mallah, Marketing Director at Lautsprecher Teufel, adding that the company had outgrown the location, both in terms of size and requirements. “We found that we were no longer the underdogs,” says Mallah. And no wonder: What started out as an insider tip for music fans is now Europe’s largest direct seller of loudspeakers. “This is not just a random location for us,” Mallah explained. “It incorporates what the company stands for: Tradition, reliability and quality. Our history is what gives us authenticity,” says Mallah. Which is why Teufel has remained true to itself. The company had been selling its speakers via specialist dealers up until 1996 when Peter Tschimmel made the bold decision to switch to a direct sales model, a concept that remains successful to this day. “This makes our contact with customers so much more much more direct and personal,” explained Mallah. Teufel was also among the earliest ecommerce pioneers.  An early website that included a PDF document for downloading and printing was revolutionary for the time.

But while Teufel’s success is firmly rooted in its history, the company remains committed to innovation. Teufel’s acoustic developers are always looking for new ideas, striving to make the product even better and stay one step ahead of current trends. In 2010, for example, Teufel acquired the Berlin startup Raumfeld. Raumfeld had developed a novel software product that allowed music from multiple sources to be streamed via Wi-Fi to loudspeakers throughout the home. As part of Teufel, Raumfeld’s cutting-edge software gained access to over three decades of audio experience – a winning combination for the creation of hi-fi streaming speakers. In order to better market both brands across Europe and the United States, the Berlin Acoustics Group was recently formed and includes Teufel products in their classic black as well as Raumfeld streaming speakers with their boldly elegant lacquered cabinets – two brands that do the devil proud.

Stefanie Paul
Kluge Köpfe 2014