StudioAV Visits AVID – Factory Tour Special!

In this week’s blog, Andy Holt visits UK HiFi manufacturer extraordinaire AVID.  Based in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, AVID is world-renowned for manufacturing some of the finest audio replay products available.  With a rare insight into the company’s manufacturing techniques and processes, Andy lifts the veil behind this compelling brand.

There are manufacturers out there who press a button & watch as a machine whirs into action, populating a PCB with discreet components & a flash of solder. A power supply, plastic logo & few threaded bolts later, a uniformly square black box falls off a conveyer belt, ready to be wrapped in cardboard & dispatched to the nearest Hi-Fi retailer…followed by 100 more. A human hand rarely comes close & nothing is scrutinised beyond it powering up &, of course, hitting the right price point.

And then there are those manufacturers like AVID – fiercely traditional, built to exacting standards & all by hand in the UK, using only the very best components available & utilising materials such as cast & milled slabs of aluminium, steel & titanium, to produce some of the most enviable products on the market today.

AVID is the passion of one man, Conrad Mas, who has encapsulated his vision of ‘better Hi-Fi’ in a range of electrical & mechanical wonders, where every single piece leaving the factory is a near work of art. This obsession started in 1977 with Conrad wishing to make a better turntable, which in turn lead to the pursuit of engineering excellence that now extends beyond vinyl replay & into the world of ultra high performance amplification & loudspeakers – there are no corners cut here, or compromises made at any level, be they the entry points to the brand, or indeed the most exotic, luxury reference product leaving the factory; each benefits from an obsessive level of consideration & detail. On a recent tour, I got to experience first hand just how deep & profound this dedication to quality is!

Everything AVID manufacture, from the humblest of washers up to the largest of amplifiers, is treated to the same degree of care & attention. Take the simple Diva II turntable for example; it is built in small batches, each calibrated by hand & featuring a hugely impressive cast metal chassis. This forms the foundation of the deck, imbuing it with rigidity & resonance damping properties – no flimsy plastic coated MDF plinths here! Sorbothane feet sit on three outrigger feet & the motor is an outboard affair (as they all should be?). You will note that these are the exact same ingredients used in the flagship, albeit implemented differently & on a larger scale. Nothing is left to chance here & demonstrates a clear commitment to a fundamental idea – get the foundation right & everything can grow organically from there. This is how AVID achieve both consistency & uniformity of performance across its entire output.

Next was a trip to the fabrication floor, where great ingots of metal are milled into precise shapes, forming everything from amplifier panels, to loudspeaker baffles, to remote control handsets. In particular this provided an opportunity to witness a level of detail unseen by most, in the form of the unique driver bracing arrangement adopted by AVID with its Reference speaker range. Not only is the from baffle of the loudspeaker milled from a solid plate of substantial weight, the drivers themselves are then effectively ‘clamped’ with uniform pressure around the entire circumference with a proprietary bracing arrangement, eliminating the need for bolts & the ‘hot spot’ pressure points that these create. The result is that the driver becomes effectively ‘one’ with the face plate & eschews any flex or resonances that could occur when in motion, which could colour the response or add unwanted distortion. Note the metal bar holding it in place…all made in-house of course!

This is a perfect example of AVID’s philosophy & engineering approach, yet these exacting standards are entirely internal, so nobody would ever know; not even the end user! However, they remain critical to the performance level that AVID demands of its own products & which extends into every aspect of its design process & product range.

Amplification is relatively new for AVID, but as you would expect by now, there were no half measures here. Volume pots were tested, capacitors were scrutinised, transformer windings were measured & analysed. Indeed everything I saw was as immaculate on the inside, as it was on the outside…& then there was the scale! Obviously, when it comes to loudspeakers, any company that can boast of a Reference One loudspeaker at over 2m tall, weighing 340kgs & forged from solid metal plates of various thicknesses, it is clearly not one that’s going to get excited about making a Class D amplifier the size of a toaster – but nothing could prepare me for what I saw! An absolute behemoth of an amplifier range, including an open-case Reference Mono power amplifier with a transformer the size of a football – an actual, real life, football!

The degree of ambition is staggering, but once the case goes on, you would never know! Which pretty much sums up what I felt upon seeing & hearing AVID’s range of truly astonishing products – AVID is proud & exceptionally talented manufacturer, but never one that is tempted by the flashy, the fashionable or tempted by the scalability that could come with the ‘mass produced by robots’ approach. Instead it is understated, hand-crafted in small batches & so atypically British; by which I mean that every engineered piece is cared about (loved even) but there is no marketing BS or hype machine working away in the background. Instead, the quality & performance of the finished article is allowed to communicate its Hi-Fi credentials to the end user on its own terms…& boy, does it deliver!

To find out more about StudioAV’s range of AVID products, click here.

Or visit the AVID company website here.

If you want to hear what your vinyl can really do, then drop us a line on T. 01753 863300 or via sales@studioav.co.uk