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Audiolab

Audiolab logo
  • IAG International Audio Group
  • Sovereign Court, Ermine Business Park, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, UK
  • Official website
  • helpdesk@iaguk.com
  • +44 1480 447700
  • No fax number available

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Equipment[add model]

Audiolab manufactures or has manufactured the following equipment (click to expand models list):

CD-Players
 
Electrostatic Speakers
 
Solid State Amplifiers
 
Tuners
 

General information [contribute]

Audiolab web site (July 11, 2009): Our UK based Development team under the leadership of Jamie Kelly are responsible for all hi-fi and home cinema hardware and software development. The principle of no-nonsense, yet high quality engineering is the bedrock of the team. Jamie with over 23 years of engineering experience throughout the hi-fi industry maintains the very highest standards of design.

Our Electronics factory, completed in 2004 is a dedicated 400,000sqft state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, fully certified to ISO9001 and fully compliant with all international standards including the new WEEE and RohS directives. Each floor of the factory houses highly automated production processes with advanced facilities including surface-mount facilities, lead-free flow solder as well as fully-trained production staff expert in micro-electronics assembly.

Throughout the design process through to production, the highest quality standards are maintained.

History[contribute]

Audiolab web site (July 11, 2009): Over 20 years on, it’s easy to underestimate the impact the first audiolab products had on the market, but the original 8000A certainly shook up a cosy British audio industry: here was an amplifier designed with the kind of facilities consumers wanted, yet still able to deliver a sound to please audiophiles.

And it sold for a bargain £250, pitching it against market leaders like the A&R Cambridge A60, not to mention the Japanese competition.

The founders of Audiolab, Philip Swift and Derek Scotland, had been involved in the audio industry for some time, working on the fondly-remembered Lentek amplifiers and speakers for the Mission brand, which has recently joined audiolab as a stablemate. They’d also been working on a personal project: an amplifier designed to offer ‘oustanding sound quality at a modest cost’, and perform reliably with a wide range of speakers under real world conditions.

8000A Launched

The development process involved an attempt to measure performance and correlate this with perceived sound quality, and the intention was to develop an amplifier that was foolproof, fully-equipped and yet capable of high standards of performance.

At the same time, amplifiers fell into one of two camps: ‘Fully-loaded’ with facilities and sounding so-so, or simple ‘hairshirt’ designs that were capable of sounding great, but inconvenient to live with.

The 8000A was launched in 1983, and featured high-quality tone controls, a phono-stage for turntables, and a choice of direct or switched speaker outlets. The direct connection gave the best sound, the switched one made life simpler for headphone users.

And right from the start, the amplifier was designed to be the start of a complete Audiolab system: a link could be broken between the preamp and power amplifier, allowing an upgrade with a power amp. At the time the connections were on the then-fashionable DIN multi-pin sockets; it wasn’t long before the conventional phono sockets we all know made their appearance.

Sweet Talking

Commenting on the 8000A, Hi-Fi Answers reviewer David Prakel said ‘the sound is characterised by a true effortless dynamic capability.’ He went on to praise the amp’s power and control characteristics usually only found in esoteric equipment: ‘You’d be looking at the sharp end of £3000 to better this performance.’

A year later Prakel was testing the company’s first preamp/ power amp combination, the 8000C and 8000P, and saying it was ‘madenningly faithful to the source across a wide range of levels and ancillary equipment.’

It seems he liked it!

Bursting into the 90’s

Fast-forward a few years and an investment by 3i to fund expansions, and the Audiolab 8000A had been upgraded, the monobloc 8000M power amps added and the time was right for a spurt of activity.

What was retained was the excellent design of the products- in a 1991 review of the latest version of the 8000A, Audiophile editor Jonathan Kettle said ‘Over the years many have tried to emulate Audiolab’s ergonomics. None has lasted the course’- and of course the performance.

Now the brand gained a high-tech digital to analogue converter, the 8000DAC, later joined by a matching disc transport, the 8000CDM. What Hi-Fi? Reviewed the pair, commenting they were ‘highly musical – not just attention-grabbing but enthralling’.

Around the same time came the 8000T tuner, the result of many years of intensive development by Scotland, Swift and their team: rather than buying in the building blocks of the unit, the company came up with everything itself, and came up with a classic, as impressive on AM as it was with stereo FM, and still much-loved to this day.

Broadening Horizons

Later the company expanded its range with the addition of a conventional CD player, designed to appeal to buyers for whom the £2300 tag on the 8000CDM/DAC was too high. At £1000, the 8000CD had What Hi-Fi? Raving about its ‘crisp, detailed and neutral sound.’

The magazine also described the package of 8000Q preamp and 8000M amps as ‘a world-class combination, beside which the price of some rivals might even begin to look a little silly’.

1996 saw the debut of the 8000S, Audiolab’s first integrated amplifier since the 8000A, and with an updated version of that ‘flexibility without compromise’ approach that’s been a hallmark of the company throughout its history. ‘This is a very significant British product,’ said On Review.

Things changed for Audiolab in 1997, when the company was bought by the parent company of the Tag McLaren F1 racing team. Products were reborn as the Tag McLaren Audio F3 range, with new cosmetic design by Peter Stevens, who worked on the McLaren F1 road car, and internal improvements as a result of 2000 hours of listening tests.

A New Formula

TMA Chief Executive Dr. Udo Zucker announced, ‘If Audiolab achieved 60 per cent of the potential of the technology, we’ve now reached 95 per cent.’ The trade-off? The products were more expensive, which didn’t sit well with critics. The company focused on producing AV processors, speakers and high-end DVD players.

Over its seven-year history, Tag McLaren Audio expanded into surround sound products aimed at the high-end home cinema market. A trio of AV processors appeared, along with a range of multi-channel power amplifiers, and the most recent of these, the AV30R and the 700:7R, now known as the 8000AV and the 8000X7, survive into the new Audiolab range.

Now the Audiolab brand has returned, under new ownership, with a state-of-the-art production facility, going back to its roots with a mix of user-convenience and excellent performance, all at affordable prices.

After seven years away, Audiolab is back. Additonal products are being designed, and will appear over the coming year. Audiolab is causing as much of a stir as it did all those years ago.

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