By Chad Deal / Photos by Paul Body
Speed, precision and volume have enthralled Daniel Massaro for as long as he can remember. The La Jolla native grew up racing motorcycles, playing drums and mixing hip-hop tracks with live rock instrumentation.
Massaro has worked in sound studios in San Diego, Los Angeles, Mexico and Japan, producing songs for other musicians and laying down his own EDM tracks under the alias "Weapons." The fact that he later established Massaro, Inc. in a former weapons prototyping facility (to build racing components for Ducati motorcycles) was pure coincidence.
"It was a very specialized field, so it was not a booming business, per se," says Massaro."But it did give me all the insight and training I would need in manufacturing to merge along with my audio-design experience to create a line of high-performance headphones."
In 2007, Massaro began developing in-ear headphones and found that a 9.5mm driver gave the broadest range of sound. A driver of that size, it turns out, fit perfectly inside the shell of 9mm bullet casing.
"The form came after the functionality," says Massaro, who now manufactures the bullet-shaped "Nines" at his Munitio workshop in Little Italy. "Sound was always the very first thing, so this did not start as a gimmick - though it easily could have been, if I would have made it cheap. But I wanted this to be the cornerstone for a serious audio company with serious products."
Massaro's eye-catching creation experienced rapid success, which culminated in a collaboration with the most successful video game of all time, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. In August, Munitio officially made the jump into the "serious" category with the release of its PRO40 (with 40mm drivers), high-performance, over-the-ear headphones that have been worn by Kobe Bryant, DJ Chuckie and Portuguese soccer star Christiano Ronaldo, among other celebs.
Massaro says San Diego provides perspective for him, and that it's a place where he can work symbiotically with the connections he's made in the Southern California music industry.
"The support-structure and network I've acquired throughout the years, along with the level of entrepreneurship in this city, are abundant," he says. "There are so many experts from different industries to tap into. I feel anything can be done in this city."
These days, Munitio is working to expand its line to include Wi-Fi-enabled speakers and Bluetooth headphones, all of which will be loud, fast and exact.
"Everything I get involved in is because I'm passionate about it," Massaro says.