So much good Hi Fi has come out of Britain.

Much of the Hi Fi that we know and love has actually been produced by that crop of young UK post WWII baby boomers that diverted from their predestined careers in science and industry and decided to venture into this business of music reproduction.

There are so many brand names that we in the small world of Hi Fi freakery know.

Audiolab, Arcam, Creek, Mission, Quad, Tannoy, Wharfedale, Cambridge, Castle, Linn, Musical Fidelity, Naim, Rega, Cyrus and many more.

There are a number of factors that helped these companies come into being. Generally they were founded by a technically creative individual with a great love of music and the entrepreneurship to be prepared to risk their livelihood and career in a manufacturing enterprise.

I think the British educational opportunity had a lot to do with it, in the era when people in the UK had grants to go to university and an excellent scientific and technical education was available to all it empowered those motivated by music and electronics to be able pursue their own path independent of the conventional institutions of employ.

Another side of the rise of the UK Hi Fi scene was a very active and engaged culture of journalism that created the critical review. “Which?” magazine started in the late fifties was the first critical advocacy publication that allowed the consumer to discover the truth of the products that hitherto they would have been reliant for information about through advertising.

This culture of passion induced manufacturing mettled by critical feedback created crops of products that were genuinely musical and individual.

While the American and Asian companies pursued the false values of wattage and THD the Brit manufacturers listened fanatically to both their products and their customers.

Then the eighties came with Thatcher and economic rationalism. For a while the Hi Fi companies put on corporate clothing and rebuilt themselves in shiny new factories in science parks. A new management class started wearing dark suits and driving black BMWs. By the late nineties the muck in together scene of tweed jackets and the blitz had been replaced by a triple tier of owners, techs, and workers comfortably segregated by tearooms and expense accounts.

When I started visiting these companies in the late nineties many of them were in the process of amalgamation or sale. The male owners and CEOs were driving me around as a foreign visitor in their black German cars boasting of their assets and mistresses.

The white coated technical designers were kept in their labs and would be allowed to talk to me carefully. Rows of shift workers would be on the small production lines. Whilst I stood close to them and watched their work I could feel the distance between them as units of labour and ourselves as a briefly privileged visitor.

This was how much things had changed in twenty years, no longer comrades in a venture, but workers, managers, and owners.

Predictably in the noughties these companies were then systematically betrayed by their owners. The assets, such as were left after being stripped out and turned into nice houses in the Home Counties, were duly packaged up and sent overseas to line the walls as trophies in Shenzen. The workers and managers were sent home to be retrained as Baristas and Uber Drivers in the new economy. By 2008 the British Hi Fi industry had completed its ritual disembowelment …

Except for a few oases of individuality that is .... 

We have very good reason to love our English Hi-Fi Brands that have survived Thatcher, New Labour, and post 2008 Austerity.

Rega, Cyrus, and PMC in particular have never sacrificed their UK Manufacturing base and their ideals of making the best possible music packaged into the most appealing and long lasting of engineered components.

These companies are typical of these survivors of rationalism with clear and self-determined private ownership committed to their customers and employees that have seen terrific growth in the last few years.

They have a new challenge now very near, the idiot sandwich of Brexit sponsored by people with no idea of its consequences and no plan of how to iterate it.

When I visited the UK last year and attended those same aforesaid factories of Rega, PMC, and Cyrus, it was obviously enough one of my leading questions.

To my surprise I was expecting doom and gloom, but actually found quite the opposite. The owners of these companies were either unfazed by it or looking forward to the freedom from EU trading restrictions. They saw the EU as being a cold dead hand of beauracracy that tended to prevent their own highly innovative and agile companies from gaining ground in external markets on the one hand while dragging them back to a common lower ground within the circumspects of EU regulation and protectionism on the other.

Like all good businessmen these companies see the opportunity rather than just the adversity.

I came away from my visits and interviews refreshed and assured that for those British companies that had survived “Greed is Good” of the Nineties and Austerity of the Noughties that making the most of Brexit would be walk in the park.

That is not to say they didnt see the negative ... one partner said "well we're fu..ed if we stay in and 90% fu..ed if we leave".

Phil from Rega has the view that the EU is less of an open skies trading partner but rather a cartel that forces countries to trade inwardly. From the vesicular viewpoint of Rega who sell 45,000 turntables around the world annually the EU has never been particularly benevolent, and as they source their materials locally they are not suffering the rise in external costs issue that is causing other UK manufacturers prices to rise.

Cyrus have been producing their unique electronics since 1983. Mike Payne their sales amd marketing Director is of the personal opinion that Brexit is clearly mad, but they have seen their own business radically improve in the new environment with a 180% rise in orders last year. Cyrus has a definite future with a particular musical signature and terrific loyalty from its customers.

PMC have also seen their business grow since Brexit was anounced with a 50% rise in business last year. Their business into Europe is 20% of their sales but they are seeing enormous growth in the USA. This company makes such a charismatric product so linked to the heart and soul of music and video through their monitoring background that I personally believe they will be immune to Article 50. 

Pictured below is a rather nice all-British combination ... A Rega Planar 3 Turntable with a Cyrus One HD Amplifier and a pair of PMC twenty5.22 Loudspeakers. It is wired with Chord cables and set upon an Atacama Hi Fi rack.