Written by Johanna Angman
In this month’s Giejo Magazine Spotlight we profile trendy audio company, Cambridge Audio who make everything from headphones to Hi-Fi bringing quality and ease of use to music lovers. Matt Reilly, Head of North America, Business Strategy and Product Development has spent the past twenty years in the hi-fi and music industry. A lifelong music fan his remit at the company is to expand the iconic British audio brand’s footprint and network in the US.
Matt joined Cambridge Audio because of his industry passion and was drawn by the company’s unique, free-thinking, challenger culture. He also loves the accessibility of the products and the fact that Cambridge Audio makes it fun and engaging for its music fans. “We understand that music is a shared experience and by making our products easy to use it gives you the opportunity to forget about the gear and truly enjoy the music, “ says Reilly.
The Cambridge Audio Business Story
For anyone new to the brand, Cambridge Audio has its grounding in the heart of British hi-fi, with its roots in Cambridge. Founded in 1968, it’s the oldest British-owned hi-fi company. Now solely owned by James Johnson-Flint, an entrepreneur who worked his way up from Saturday job to co-running the UK’s Richer Sounds hi-fi retailer chain (with a break in between for a stint in pirate radio), before acquiring Cambridge Audio in 1994.
The company launched several world-firsts in audio technology, from the iconic P40, the first
amplifier with a toroidal transformer (in 1968), and CD1, the first two-box CD player in 1985.
Recently, in 2019 the Alva TT was the world’s first Bluetooth AptX HD-enabled turntable and in the last 20 years, it has evolved dramatically, now based in London, with a global audience with overseas markets accounting for over 75 percent of its global business.
Since its inception in 1968, Cambridge Audio has pursued one simple objective to produce audio equipment that faithfully creates a pure and natural sound as the artist intended, with nothing added and nothing taken away. Cambridge Audio is dedicated to bringing unfiltered, unadulterated ‘Great British Sound’ into the home. From the iconic P40 amplifier to the award-winning Evo all-in-one music system and globally-acclaimed Melomania true wireless earphones, Cambridge Audio designs each product from the ground up to deliver the purest and most faithful reproduction of music. Their award-winning portfolio spans headphones, through lifestyle audio and into premium hi-fi.
What’s New and Exciting?
Cambridge Audio enriches people’s life through exceptional sound by making world-class audio accessible to all. Reilly explains: “At Cambridge Audio we want you to hear your favorite music at its very best – as the artist intended it to be heard, with nothing added, nothing taken away. It’s what listeners deserve.
The company portfolio is based on listening to its customers and offers everything from headphones to hi-fi and at every entry point – from beginners on their hi-fi journey to experienced audiophiles. It’s rewarding to see those who start on our entry level products upgrade over the years. At Cambridge Audio we have deliberately designed our products to offer this journey. Lately our focus has been on lifestyle audio products – from our headphones to Alva turntables and all-in-one streaming amplifiers Evo”.
Most recently Cambridge Audio has been involved in a new exciting chapter with ambitious plans for the US business, including the recent global partnership with the incredible DeLorean Motor Company and recent EarthPercent partnership where the company joined forces with other industry veterans to raise its sustainability credentials to better protect the planet. Partnering with DeLorean – an iconic US brand – is just one example of how the company is finding like minded global partners and is excited to do more with its sustainability vision.
What Makes Cambridge Audio Unique?
Music is at the heart of everything for Cambridge Audio. It is the company’s passion. Across the business its employees live and breathe music, not just the products, but playing in bands, going to live gigs and producing music. Cambridge Audio sees its job as creating audio products that allow it to share this with its customers – the love of music is contagious and is the ultimate benefit to its followers.
Award Winning and Design Led
Cambridge Audio’s products don’t just sound premium, they look premium too – and they’re built to last. The company was recently a proud recipient of two Red Dot awards this year, for both Evo and its Melomania 1+ headphones. It reflects the company’s focus on ensuring not just great audio performance, but a strong design identity which takes the company beyond traditional hi-fi.
Challenging Times Bring New Opportunities
The pandemic shifted Cambridge Audio’s business and gave it some new opportunities to help people as there was a trend to come back to listening to music since it became an escape, a chance to relive memories during the lockdown. The role of music in mental health is central to who Cambridge Audio is as it strives to make sure that the products it makes can help people deal with these challenges.
As this trend brought back an interest in music discovery, Cambridge Audio’s products were the perfect solution as they are designed to make it easy to discover and listen in the best possible quality: whether that’s buying a physical record or streaming hi-res music files over a network player with a screen big enough to appreciate the artwork. When people find an artist they want to hear more of Cambridge Audio allows its customers to get closer to every detail.
Reilly comments: “I’d loved seeing the resurgence in a love for vinyl. From our more traditional customers looking for a convenient way to listen, through to new listeners enjoying the ease of set up with our Alva and AptX HD products, and to younger listeners ransacking their parent’s vinyl collection and starting on their own educational music journey. It’s exciting to be a part of this process of discovery as we believe music culture should be accessible to all at any stage and level of interest.”
How does Cambridge Audio’s Products Tie to Trends?
Music discovery will always be huge and Cambridge Audio’s products make it easy to discover and listen in the best possible quality: whether that’s buying a physical record or streaming hi-res music files over a network player with a screen big enough to appreciate the artwork. When Cambridge Audio’s customers find artists they want to hear more of, the company allows listeners to get closer to every detail. Ultimately, one of the biggest things it offers is choice: all-in-ones or separates, the chance to upgrade, using your streaming platform of choice (most recently it added Deezer, which can stream in CD-quality), Bluetooth on or off on turntables.
What are the Company’s Growth Plans?
Overseas markets account for over 75 per cent of Cambridge Audio’s global business and it is well established in the UK, Germany and Spain. In 2023, Cambridge Audio is focusing on North America as it is the business’s number one growth market. Cambridge Audio has seen the enthusiasm for British brands in the US which has given the company sound success doubling sales in the last five years. As the business builds the US team and deepens key relationships with hi-fi retailers, there will be more US influence in product development. In 2023, Cambridge Audio will also be launching a #MusicMoments podcast on its Youtube channel where international figures, producers, artists and music veterans will be sharing insights and stories on their favorite songs and music moments.
Beyond offering quality, award winning design led products, Cambridge Audio is proud to take part in the sustainable music movement with EarthPercent and is currently planning out its environmental journey and how that unfolds across the company globally next year and beyond.
In the meantime, it encourages consumers to practice environmentally conscious shopping by seeking out home products that are earth-friendly or brands that have taken major steps to reduce packaging, lower their carbon footprint, and use sustainable materials.
Matt Reilly believes that collective conscious consumerism should be everyone’s 2023 New Year’s Resolution. “Small conscious choices really do make a difference. It only takes a small amount of effort by consumers and businesses to make a positive social, economic and environmental impact,” says Reilly.
Matt Reilly’s top tips for your shopping is to support brands with a focus on sustainability and have a mission to pay it forward or give back. Buying fairtrade or ordering a well-being basket with natural and organic products introduces your friends and family to reputable, sustainable brands that they can feel good about supporting.
Reilly adds: “Giving ethically spreads a positive message. Music is at the heart of everything we do – we are a company of music lovers, but we also love the plant and are happy to do our part to look after it. We listen to our partners and customers in how we can continue to take small steps to make a difference.”