British Hi Fi

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British Hi Fi

Just looking at the various reviews of equipment in this month's Gramophone and other HiFi magazines it seems that many of the stalwarts of the British HiFi industry have moved some or all of their manufacturing to China. Quad, NAD, Audiolab, Arcam, Cambridge to mention a few. It is reasonable to accept that some of the "raw ingredients" such as CD mechanisms or LP-Cartridges are cheaper to manufacture abroad, but it seems a pity that the whole manufacturing industry is migrating eastwards.

Should the government help with this?

 

DSM

RE: British Hi Fi

Well, Quad and Audiolab are owned by a company – IAG – whose main production base is in Shenzhen, China. It also owns Mission, Castle, Wharfedale. Luxman, a shipyard making luxury yachts...

Arcam makes some of its lower-priced products, such as its r-Series models, in China, but still makes much of its line in Cambridgeshire, and both Cambridge Audio and NAD have made products in China or other Far Eastern countries for an extremely long time.

Audio Editor, Gramophone

RE: British Hi Fi

DSM raises an interesting point bringing in globalization, international politics, business and ultimately what the consumer is willing to pay for their purchases. I visited Shenzhen many years ago when it was what seemed like the world's biggest building site and I seem to recall reading recently that the workers at the massive Foxconn factory there which manufactures Apple products are paid something like £1.70 an hour; a pittance by our standards but considerably more than the billion or so Chinese peasants labouring in the fields all day ever earn.

These days one really questions what does "made in...." actually mean anyway - probably just the final assembly point. My old Technics CD player says "made in Germany" but I would be very surprised if the CD transport mechanism and circuit boards did not originate in the Far East.  Sadly the days when the  Quads, Leaks, Rogers and Radfords could compete with UK manufacturing costs are gone. Their quality remains however and I cannot see today's products being sought in the future at the high prices being charged now for these historic items as in most cases there will be no spare parts with electronics moving so fast. How many CD players are out there today where replacement lasers or ICs are no longer available? Yet look at the classifieds in Gramophone or a HiFi magazine and see how many dealers are looking for valve electronics, which can be kept going almost indefinitely, from the aforementioned, plus Garrard 301 or 401 turntables.

I still use in one system the Rogers amplifier I've had for well over 40 years and it stills sounds lovely. In that time it has had one set of new output valves and I took a soldering iron to it for the first time last year when I replaced the silicon HT rectifiers after one failed. As one who has made my own valve power amplifiers and valve phono stages the quality of the workmanship in these old products was excellent (far better than mine!).

RE: British Hi Fi

Graham Slee is still going strong in Barnsley - making as well as designing kit there. Great phono amps and headphone amps, with a mono-block amp soon to be released and pre-amp and DAC on the cards too, as well as excellent cables. Why buy foreign when you can support British companies? 

RE: British Hi Fi

There are still some excellent brands made in the UK - J E Sugden is the first that springs to mind but there are many others. Sugden's amplifiers have been a truly superb name in the hi-fi world for many years. They also make CD players and now speakers as well, I believe. Inspire Hi-Fi's turntables are also British - not to mention Rega, who continue to set high standards. There are also many speaker manufacturers in the UK - KEF, B & W, Kudos, Heybrook etc, though many of the smaller ones could best be described as cottage industries. I have always tried to buy British products wherever possible, though sometimes there isn't any choice other than to go for an overseas brand - even if it masquerades under a British "classic" name.

Try and buy British if you can - I am listening to an Arcam FMJ A38 amplifier at the moment and it sounds superb.

RE: British Hi Fi

Yes, fair comment Spadger, and  I guess you get what you pay for. Sugden amps do have a good reputation as do Arcam but above the mass market prices. We do have too Linn & Naim, at a price, and several small companies.   The major Japanese brands too have gone to lower cost countries. I have  Sony items made in Malaysia,

The KEFs in my main system are British but the newer ones (IQ30s) in the room I use for computer downloads and sometimes for CD are ... Chinese.

Perhaps the takeover of the likes of Leak & Wharfedale by conglomerates like the Rank Ogranization and Garrard by Plessey did them no favours. Mind you if one has a deep enough pocket one can get a new Garrard 501 made to order. Someone who set up to overhaul and make spare parts for Garrards eventually tracked the Garrard  trade mark  to a Brazilian company and purchased it from them! 

RE: British Hi Fi

Yes, 33lp, the Garrard brand name is now held by Loricraft who not only refurbish the old 301 and 401 models but make their own newer version, the 501 turntable. They also make some of the best vinyl record cleaners you are ever likely to come across. However, this all comes at a cost, and I think you have hit the nail on the head here on the pricing issue. Hi-fi manufactured in the UK may be of a very high quality, but the price puts many people off. We simply can't match the labour costs in the Far East and so we have to compete in the niche area of high qualityt as opposed to price. This, of course, implies that products from China and elsewhere suffer in the area of good quality build and sound, which is patently not the case.

However, I still try to buy British when I can, though with the likes of KEF sourcing their cheaper models from overseas, it is becoming increasingly difficult to do so. 

RE: British Hi Fi

Sadly price is no indication that a product from a "British" company is actually made in the UK. I was auditioning a Creek Destiny 2 integrated amplifier the other day, and mighty sweet it sounded too. Neither I nor the dealer could find a "made in" label, but the tell-tale "Designed in the UK" label lead us to concur that it must be made in China. This unit retails at £1,750, which is more than equivalent products from Naim and Roksan which are still, I believe, made in the UK.

Does this mean that the Creek Destiny 2 would cost, say, £3,500 if made in the UK and is therefore significantly better than a Naim Nait XS or Roksan Caspian M2? Or is Creek making a much healthier profit on a broadly similar product?

Not that "Made in the UK", or indeed made anywhere in Europe is a guarantee of quality. My UK-built Arcam CD23 FMJ developed a fault on the CD mechanism (which was probably sourced from the Far East), and I've completely given up on Philips after two TVs made in Europe (Belgium I think) packed up in under 3 years. My Pioneer plasma which bears a "Made in England" sticker is entering its 6th year with no problems to report.

 

 

RE: British Hi Fi

Actually I have a slight problem with my Arcam CD transport. However, the sound is still top notch compared with the Denon which it replaced. I would rather have to replace the Arcam every few years than listen to poor sound quality.

 

Hopefully Arcam might be able to repair it perhaps, should the problem worsen??

RE: British Hi Fi

AVI is still making superb stuff (although they only make active speakers now).

A small company, R&D is in-house, they buy-in drive units from overseas but the electronics are made in South Wales and veneered cabinets in Sheffield.

Robin

RE: British Hi Fi

Not to forget that Sonneteer are still designed and Built in Guildford Surrey of course.

 

:-)

Haider

Sonneteer

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