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May 2019 ertonline.co.uk


Q: How did streaming affect you guys? MB: It didn’t really affect the core business, because high-end audiophiles still listen to music perhaps in the more traditional methods, and CD is still huge. Although, from a business perspective, it was obviously an untapped market for us when it first came along. We started 10 years ago with a very basic streaming product, that essentially replaced your CD player with streaming capabilities. We then moved on to a full-sized product that was


a network-based streaming product; this gave us an idea of where we wanted to be, hence the reason to use the phone as your interface using a product like Poly. JF: There are a lot of players out there, but some products are really heavy and they’re rather clunky. It makes so much more sense, because of the billions that have been spent on phone displays, to throw everything into your phone. For us it was so obvious. I think, generally speaking, streaming would be supplementary to other sources, maybe customers’ vinyl or CD collections or they might have music on a server, so because of that it’s not really done damage I wouldn’t have said, but as Matt said, it’s something that’s happened to the market. MB: It’s something we had to get into, but it was purely for growth rather than actually to sustain the business. So Poly is our big push at the moment. We’ve just brought out an entirely new operating system and firmware for it, so essentially it’s like a brand new product.


Q: 30 years in business this year – what are you doing to celebrate? JF: We’re having a distribution event in Asia, so I think we’ll do something there, we can have someone jumping out of a cake ma ybe! MB: I think it’s fair to say that Chord Electronics is not too showy or flash. It’s definitely significant, being a wholly-owned British company, we’ve done really well over three decades and that’s definitely something to celebrate.


Q: And what’s next for the business? JF: The pro side is our core roots, and we’ll have


Matthew Bartlett (left) and John Franks.


some more products that are studio specific, but it’s important we ensure the consumer side is well established. We’re continuing to explore streaming, using the technology we’ve got in Poly to branch out into other areas as well. MB: It’s lovely to develop core technologies, but once they’re refined, then you can pull them around and tweak them. But you have to develop those nuggets of expertise and technologies in your business; once you’ve got them there, you can apply them in different ways to different products.


Q: Does that mean new products are on the horizon? MB: Well, what we can say is that there will be a new streaming product coming out for Hugo 2. For anyone streaming with Chord Electronics’ products, currently using Mojo and Poly, there will be a jump in terms of sound quality, commensurate with the digital performance of Hugo 2. JF: And from a retailer’s perspective, I can see that there’s going to be this step change where customers


suddenly go, “I can get very high-quality streaming or download music, however a lot of the traditional products are no longer capable of supporting that”. It’s a reason for customers to buy new. MB: We don’t bombard the market with new products, because that doesn’t really generate good business, but there is a natural evolutionary path for every product we produce. If anything, the forthcoming streaming product


is a great proposition for anyone that owns Hugo 2, because you’re adding on functionality, so if anything, you’re extending its life span. The streamer will give users much more functionality.


Q: British UK-based company, proud to be British… Is there anything you think could drive you elsewhere? JF: The thing is, there was a big push about 10 years ago where a lot of companies were putting stuff into China for manufacture, but we never even attempted it. The last thing I wanted was maybe a container load of metalwork coming out of China that wasn’t quite right, because no one over here would touch it. So then you end up effectively losing money. MB: China and India are only really set up to mass produce items. We’re making in the 10s, 100s, 1,000s and they’re only interested in the 100s of millions of particular products. And then you’ve got IP issues, that if you put anything in China, whether it’s your 


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