From poverty to power: how moved to the US makes the Ukrainian headphone for Beyonce and Jay Z

Vitaliy Belonozhko – founder 64Audio, which makes professional music headphones. In the 1990s he was still a child left in the United States. There’s a guy for a long time lived in poverty, and in 2008-m did in the bedroom the first pair of headphones. Now technique it brand buy Kanye West, Jay Z, and “Okean Elzy”. This writes the MC.Today.

От нищеты к мировой славе: как переехавший в США украинец делает наушники для Бейонсе и Jay Z

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Vitaly spoke about the difficult moving to the States, love for coke and how his company came in the three of the best headphone manufacturers in the world.

Hereinafter in the first person.

About moving to the US, the “fake” Olivier and Coca-Cola

To ten years, I lived with a family in the small town of Zvenyhorodka in Cherkasy region. In 1992, the parents realized that raising eight children in Ukraine can not, and decided to move to USA. There had already left our family, there was a wave of emigration.

The official reason for the move became religious persecution. We Protestants, in Ukraine, then very few people understood. Parents have written to the American Embassy and asked for asylum in the “quest for religious freedom.” Refugee status we were given American community helped with the money for the flight.

I don’t remember the move itself, but it was something. Two adults, eight children, 16 suitcases – present as it is all carried. Remember how we ran around the airport, and my parents tried to reassure us, and to gather in one place.

We arrived in Denver (co), and from there moved to Portland (or). There, in a one bedroom apartment, we were sheltered by the brother of the father. We had ten people, five of them still don’t understand how we fit in this kopeck piece.

Soon the landlord uncle learned about the crowd and kicked us out.

Rent money big homes, we were not – we were paid an allowance, but only $600 per family. The average salary in the country then was about $3 million, so that was enough for the bare minimum. In addition, we did not know English. Refugees with a bunch of kids nobody wanted to take shelter.

One man out of pity has offered a two-bedroom house for little money. Sounds good, but the rooms there were small, space was just enough for the bed. We lived three or four people, but it was good.

As time went on, dad found a job by profession, a welder. My brothers and sisters went to public school. It had in its own way is not easy. We as refugees are given free Lunches. Other students laughed and teased. I again, as in Ukraine, felt like a minority.

Not had any problems – so it is with food. In addition to cash benefits, we were given more coupons for the products. We were able to eat normally and allow themselves much more than in Ukraine. Since that time I remember well, as we are constantly drinking gallons of Coca-Cola. In Ukraine I only tried one once, and then we could buy not only it, but also chocolate – unprecedented luxury. Still loved the pizza. At home and words such did not know.

With the usual food was more difficult. My mom tried to cook Olivier, and apparently the salad was very similar. And here’s the taste – not Olivier, because the products of others. Missed the taste of our potatoes.

About how like to have their own, separate bed

Four years later, all our relatives “chipped in” and we bought a house loan for 30 years. But life still had a chance for two or three people in the room, because by the time the children in the family was already 12.

I finished school and went to College. There I met a musician and immediately abandoned his studies. Lived music, worked on some old keys that are found in the closet. Money for music school the parents had, so I studied by myself, on a whim.

The next few years, before I met my wife, have been rather monotonous. My brothers were engaged in malarstwa to earn a living. The rest of the time studied music, played at weddings and corporate parties. He earned a little, but then there was no other option.

Once I was in Church, something helped by the musical part. And then everyone started talking about what came new. We had a small team, so it was an event – a new girl. I saw it and immediately thought, “It would be great if she became my wife.”

От нищеты к мировой славе: как переехавший в США украинец делает наушники для Бейонсе и Jay Z

Photo: Depositphotos

Soon asked her to record a song in the Studio. It worked – we started Dating. I worked as a musician sometimes took some part-time work. Earned enough – about $1500.

A year later, in 2008, we got married, rented a separate apartment. I often joke that my life was not my own bed: first, I slept with the brothers, then got married and started to share a bed with his wife.

How to assemble the coolest headphones in the bedroom

Wife needed ear headphones. Musicians use them on stage, to hear how music sounds in the hall. New cost about $600, I couldn’t afford it. And then I remembered that I have an old broken FIHM decided to try to fix them.

It took more than a year. I took information from various sources, asked friends, searched books and the Internet. In the end I got headphones was ugly to look at, but gave good sound.

I had a lot of musician friends, they began to ask to redo and headphones. It is an expensive technique, and I was doing two to three times cheaper than even the budget options.

In July of 2010 has already registered the company. It was easy, because we’re citizens. All took an hour and cost $100.

The first major order – ten pairs of headphones for the Church. They cost $300 for the pair, I took off from $3 thousand don’t know if I’ve earned anything at all – is simply not considered. But with this amount I can buy parts and tools.

About six months headphones I did in the bedroom of the house – then there it was littered with equipment. We didn’t have air conditioning in the summer there was a wild heat, and I was working out of uniform, wearing a vest. Six months later, began to “crawl” and the kitchen on the dining room table was chemicals. For my wife it was too much, and she sent me to look for a room.

About the technology that made headphones twice the price

We rented a room for $275 per month. I didn’t know what to pay for it, although I have already worked three people: my brother, my brother’s wife and an American. Our headphones cost from $300 to $700. For this technique it is very cheap.

Everything I earned, I invested in equipment and parts. I left nothing for myself – for several years we lived on the salary of his wife. She supported me and even after my work came to help – very grateful for it.

I realized that we already “caught up” with competitors on technology performance, and began to look for something that will make us better. I bought one of his technology, which reduces pressure on the eardrum. We put it in headphones, paid him 10% of the price of each pair.

This technology has translated our product in the premium category, the price has doubled. Headphones now cost about $1 thousand Now don’t understand how I did this: raise the price two times. Orders became less, but the money we went in confident plus.

I was able to purchase equipment that was previously made with his own hands. We have think of the technology Apex. She also defended the eardrum, but in other ways. We became independent, the technology is patented and still work with it.

About the “star” orders

In 2015 our headphones ordered Beyonce. Or rather, not she personally, and her monitor engineer (the person who is involved in the selection of musical equipment for artists). They cost $2 thousand

Now I do not remember all the world stars that we have ordered. Was Kanye West, Bon Jovi, OneRepublic, and Jay Z. the Average price of a single order is $3,600.

Interestingly, the Ukrainians headphones 64Audio appreciated before the Americans. In 2012, their first ordered the guys from the band “Druha Rika”, then there were many others. Our headphones use “Okean Elzy”, The Hardkiss, Svetlana Loboda, “Without you like”.

How do headphones

Working with musicians is always an individual order. First, the otolaryngologist (ENT) fills the client with in-ear silicone mixture. She stiffens and turns the form on which we operate.

Form scan and create a 3D model. The program brought to mind, cut where necessary, and sent to a 3D printer. It prints a basis, we call it a shell.

Technicians then manually put the stuffing, and drivers. A driver is a small speaker. In normal headphones, even the expensive ones, he is one. Here the technology is different – we have two to 12.

Everyone is responsible for their “piece” of music, for example, low or high frequency. The musician very clearly hear what was going on. One speaker physically can’t reproduce all frequencies, and the bass guitar and piano are different.

About the difficulties of working with family

For ten years the technical difficulties we’ve had. Except once, when we decided to make discount on Black Friday.

We got 600 orders in three days, whereas normally we have 25 a day. Worked almost around the clock and without days off, and clearance was not. All customers are promised headphones for three weeks, in fact, the blockage lasted for two months.

Now we divide all stocks into smaller ones during the year – for the same money, and the emotional crush is not.

What I really has not been easy all these years is the relationship between people, especially family. I work with family: now four of them, and when it was 11.

От нищеты к мировой славе: как переехавший в США украинец делает наушники для Бейонсе и Jay Z

Photo: Depositphotos

In 2016 I ran the company with his two brothers. And took on the job of friend – he was a great person. Friend has not found common language with my brothers, they are categorically not accepted. I was cornered, I even seriously thought to quit the company for the sake of peace in the family.

Under pressure from the brothers fired the other, I still think it’s unfair. By the way, both brothers to me already not working. One opened his own company, also related to the music, and the second became a competitor.

About the most cheap and expensive headphones 64Audio

Now our office is located in Vancouver, Washington. We make 12 models of headphones. The cheapest are $500, the most expensive – $3800.

They are designed for two categories of users. Cheap four models come in both universal and individual. But 95% of the universal we sell to Asia. They are important to the quality of music, the so-called audiophiles. We learned that these people spend several thousand dollars a year on high-quality equipment.

Other models do only by individual order, buy musicians. 80% is the United States. Now we do about 5 thousand of individual and universal about 2500 pairs of headphones a year.

64Audio is in the TOP 3 companies in the production of these headphones in the world. On prices and technologies, we are the premium brand.

I myself am now not headphones already collected. I have the product I’m trying to make some innovation.

To be in the theme, do the audio setup at concerts. It’s part of my work – because there, directly from musicians, I understand exactly what they need. See how they build the sound, what sound achieve, what equipment to choose. It is very important for my work.

Doing music for myself – I play the piano. It’s like meditation, inspires and energizes.