Start the Presses! Pheenix Alpha Rises From Toolex Alpha's Ashes!

The famous high-tech Swedish Toolex Alpha record presses are again being manufactured as Pheenix Alpha in a Stockholm suburb by former employees of the original company using the original blueprints. This according to a recent article in a Swedish newspaper.

According to the story, the last Toolex Alpha left the factory in 1990 bound for Melodiya in the then Soviet Union, though it was believed to have been manufactured a few years earlier.

When the LP was given up for dead, the company's owners sold it for a penny to a "bike king" named Salvatore Grimaldi. That was back on May 13th, 1988. Grimaldi pivoted the company to manufacturing CD presses, which of course proved highly lucrative, and in 1994 he sold seventy percent of the company for more than a half-billion dollars.

But by 2001 the CD boom crashed and company went under, but the determined Grimaldi assumed full ownership again and began manufacturing machines to produce DVDs. By 2006 that market too collapsed and the company filed for bankruptcy.

But Niklas Poblenz, who first worked for the company back in 1986 and whose father worked there for many years before that, kept thinking of what they could do to resurrect the company, never thinking about vinyl production until they got an inquiry from Japan asking if they knew where a used Toolex Alpha might be found. Later they were asked for a price quote for a new machine.

(shown in the photo with the new machine are Poblenz and partner Per Sandberg).

"Then we began to look for old drawings and specifications. There was extensive detective work. A retired production manager from Alpha Toolex stood up and helped us" Poblenz recalled.

But they didn't have capital and no one who wanted to buy a machine was willing to front them the money, so they tried banks to no avail and then bigwigs in the Swedish music business who also turned them down. Eventually they were left to try crowdfunding, where they were able to get 2.2 million Krona at 12% interest—this at a time of 0% interest.

To date, the company has sold five of the new AD 12 presses, the same name as the originals. "AD" stands for "Alpha Delta", while 12 is for 12" records. One press has been delivered and four are currently being manufactured.

Poblenz is not an audiophile and takes no position on vinyl's superiority."But", he says, " I'm glad that there are those who think that vinyl sounds better." (The original story from which this is taken, was written by Goran Jonsson).

dolsey01's picture

Hopefully they will plan ahead this time so that when the vinyl resurgence comes to a halt, they are not back filing for bankruptcy for the third time and go under. I'm not trying to be all doom and gloom, as I've probably bought 300 albums in the last 5-6 years myself, but at some point all the hipsters out there are going to move on to something else and the market will reset. I've bought all the albums that I already bought 25-30 years ago again so now my purchasing is really only new music and has slowed down to maybe 1-3 albums a month.

dcsnehad's picture

I still remember the old days when I had those records that were to come mostly in two sizes and always wondered how they are been created. If they comes back in the market in the amount they were available at that time. I will be very glad. Best of luck and hope you get the best out of it.

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blanca's picture

Hey Michael Fremer, Great job here on analogplanet you know what?. I read a lot of blog posts and i never heard of topic like this. I LOVE this topic you made about toolex Alpha record presses. very ingenious.

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