Does it really matter where it’s made?

Andrew EverardTue 25th May 2010
IAG: polishing speakersIAG: polishing speakers

Audio brands are a truly international affair

I was pulled up by a reader the other day about the news story in the April of Gramophone issue regarding the return of the Castle brand: he was miffed that I hadn’t made it clear this was not the “original” Castle, but the revived, now-owned-by-IAG, company.

I could see his point, but were it not for IAG stepping in and reviving the brand, Castle could have become another one of those lost British audio names.

As it is, like Audiolab, Mission, Quad and Wharfedale, the Castle brand will go on – and having visited the massive complex where all these brands are produced, in Shenzhen, China, I know those involved in the design and engineering are fully aware of the heritages they are dealing with. Production facilities able to start with raw materials and turn out finished products ensure quality is maintained throughout.

That famous British brands are now owned or manufactured overseas is now a fact of life: last year, having taken delivery of a new Land Rover, I was amused when my local convenience store owner took his cue from that old comedy show and deadpanned, “Nice car – Indian, you know…”.

Increasingly the products reviewed in these pages come from just such brands: last month we had the Quad amplifier, this month the Cambridge Audio Blu-ray player, designed and engineered in the UK but made in China. Even the Epoz speakers merely say “Designed in Australia”.

Much though we’d like to hang on to those famous British firms of the past, times have changed. The legacy is products with familiar names – and impeccable quality.

Andrew Everard

Andrew Everard, Audio Editor of Gramophone since November 1999, read English at Queens' College, Cambridge a very long time ago, and was a member of the Westminster Abbey Special Choir even further back in the mists of time. He has worked on What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision, High Fidelity, Audiophile and Home Cinema magazines, as well as contributing a monthly column to Japanese title HiVi.

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