Colombian-Venezuelan Couple “Breaking The Mold” In Custom Pro Audio & Audiophile In-Ear Monitor Industry
Latin America is known for a wide variety of products, but high end or professional audio products wouldn’t be on that list. Clear Tune Monitors (CTM), a small company based in Orlando, Florida but headed by husband and wife team of Cesar Milano from Venezuela and Sandra Cardona from Colombia are working hard to change that with their line of professional audio and audiophile in-ear monitors that compete against products 5 times their price.
Finance Colombia’s Executive Editor Loren Moss was able to meet with the couple in Orlando while attending Infocomm, the professional audio/video industry’s most important industry event. CTM’s Cesar Milano explained how the couple came to form the industry and what makes their product line so different.
Finance Colombia: I’m here with Cesar Milano from Clear Tune Monitors based here in Orlando, right? You guys are Colombian and Venezuelan right?
Cesar Milano: Right.
Finance Colombia: So tell me about your product and tell me about how you got started in this business, why did you develop the product, how did you do it, because it’s not so easy to produce electronic devices, and you’re bucking a trend because we think about products now, everything’s coming from Asia, maybe some designed in California, but here’s a company that’s based here in the States with South American roots, how did that happen?
Cesar Milano: So we’re coming from the Latin industry, right? So normally in the Latin industry people see everything that is made in the US or outside of the US, it’s more expensive, right? And then you cannot afford that product or equipment because it’s from the US. So what I did, coming from the Latin industry, as a sound engineer looking for the necessities of the Latin industry, I started designing the headphones that…
“I believe in the power of music because the power of music can heal you”-Cesar Milano
I believe in the power of music because the power of music can heal you, it can make you happy or make you sad. But it depends, the power of music is so strong, but at the same time that people like to have, in the Latin industry like to have, or pursue the power of music, but they cannot afford that, because it’s too expensive and they cannot afford it, they go for different products, sometimes cheaper products, so I wanted to make an affordable product, but first for the Latin industry, and I started designing 3-driver and 4-driver earsets first for the Latin music industry, and I started pursuing Indie musicians who are touring with the big artists; they having in their mind that they cannot afford the (sets on the market) because they are too expensive
Finance Colombia: Right, I see some of those things are like $20,000.
Cesar Milano: I design the same product, using the same components and all, that big companies use at that moment and make it affordable for them, so instead of making huge profits I rather cut the profit and provide the same quality. Sometimes the companies prefer to make more profits and less quality.
But I don’t like that, so I decided to design products for the Latin music industry first attacking that market and we killed it, I mean we had all the top artists, musicians in the Latin industry using our product. From that, we moved to the US market, now we have our solutions in Europe, in Asia and all of that. So coming as a sound engineer, I have the knowledge and started designing sound with different drivers.
And looking, hearing every single model of the drivers that the company provides, I started designing our own sound, and as the difference between us and the other companies in the beginning is because we are actually…I am a musician too and I know we like to hear, what musicians like to hear. So I put all the knowledge into the monitor and started aligning drivers and making changes, using different (components) for the low end, for the high end and find our signature sound let’s say.
Finance Colombia: And that’s really important because I think you can’t have one size fits all, you know? And you have to say that to a musician, a different musician, a different taste, but the other thing is the type of music, if I’m gonna do rock and roll I probably need a different profile than vallenato, if I’m going with vallenato I need a different profile than cumbia, or reggaeton, right?
And so how do I find the ones that are right for me? You have a whole product line up here, I see that you have—it looks like these are Bluetooth, and looks like your traditional stage monitor we see these days, tell me about your product line.
Cesar Milano: We have the Smart Cable MKII as our lowest product. (Then the Explore P2) is a single dynamic, this is compared to air pods. it’s a 30-hour product, 30 hours of battery life, good quality sound, single dynamic, 10 millimeters, and sound quality is awesome to be honest, is very good.
We go to the CE320 ($249.99) which is a 3 driver in-ear monitor, three speakers per side. So that’s a universal for any musician, for people to just listen to music they can just go and take it off the shelf and buy it from to the store.
And from there we jump to the custom line, we have from 3 driver all the way to 10 drivers. The custom line, you customize it. You can put any color, any logo, any picture, whatever you want to do, you can customize it, but the thing is we have to do the impression of the ear and manufacture it and just make it for you, it’s just special for you.
Finance Colombia: What’s the turnaround time? If somebody says “ok, I want a customized ear set.” Then, ok I’m ready to make my appointment to do the ear mold, do they have to fly to Orlando?
Cesar Milano: No, they can go to any audiologist. If they’re in Orlando, they can come to our office and we do it for free here, we take the impressions, the mold, but normally they can go to any audiologist in the world, the impression they send it to us and we manufacture it.
When we receive the impression, it usually takes about four weeks, the turnaround time is basically one month, but it all depends, sometimes we have rush orders as well. The other day, (Puerto Rican Reggaetón artist) Anuel called and said: “Hey I need 10 drivers for tomorrow!” (Laughs). “Ok, we can do it; we have a rush order for $500 extra.” So we can do that. There is no limit. We can do anything.
Finance Colombia: Now, a question I have too, is: I’m a journalist now but back in the 90s I was a broadcast engineer. And back at that time, the 70s 80s, 90s there was a crazy audiophile industry that has largely—it hasn’t died but it’s not the same as it used to be. But I would imagine because now everybody’s going to portable devices and things like that, there are still people really, that they’re not performers, they’re not musicians, they’re not pros, but they are audiophiles and they want high end sound and personalized products and I think that this also provides an option. Have you explored that market at all?
Cesar Milano: Yes, of course. Actually we designed two monitors for audiophiles. Nine and ten driver earsets called the DaVinci. Why DaVinci?
Finance Colombia: Is that because he was an innovator?
Cesar Milano: It’s Innovation. So we call it the DaVinci and mainly we designed the sound for the audiophile, but it was the one that all the musicians started buying. So with that one, with the DaVinci we went to a couple of shows especially for audiophiles, and we went all the way to Asia, because in Asia there are a lot of audiophiles.
But the sound of the monitor is good. Even all the reggaeton artists are using the DaVinci.
Finance Colombia: Wow. That’s great. So you’re from what part of Venezuela?
Cesar Milano: Maracay. Like an hour from Caracas
Finance Colombia: Okay, and your wife is Paisa (Someone from the coffee growing region around Medellín Colombia)?
Cesar Milano: Paisa!
Finance Colombia: And you guys met here or there?
Cesar Milano: Here.
Finance Colombia: That’s great, here in Orlando. And so if people want to contact you, do you sell directly only or do you sell through the channel? If people want to order, what are their options, if people want to buy or they want to find out more?
Cesar Milano: So for custom, they can contact us via our website, but on our website we have dealers and reps all over the world. On our website they can find all the information. For the universal fit products we have Amazon, our website as well, different channels, all over the internet.
Finance Colombia: Super cool to see not just that there’s a Latino high-tech company that’s innovating in sound but also here in Florida because people think of all this kind of stuff as always in California or in the West Coast, or as you say, in Asia, but that you guys are doing this here is really cool! Now, I’m curious, most of your market is still mostly in Latin America, is it mostly in the US, is it Latinos in the US? Tell me about your market.
Cesar Milano: Well, its’ still Latin American and Latinos in the US, but have everything, I mean, we have a market in the US, Asia, Europe, we have a lot of Europeans, no limits. In the beginning we started with the Latin Industry but that helped us to go to other markets.
Headline photo: Cesar Milano & Sandra Cardona of Clear Tune Monitors ©Loren Moss