Home | Audio Reviews |Audiophile Shows | Partner Mags News

 

May 2020
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine

We Ask 10 Questions For High-End Audio Manufacturers
Featuring John Franks, Founder, Owner and chief designer at Chord Electronics
Enjoy the Music.com's 25th Anniversary brings you a new special feature!

 

We Ask 10 Questions For High-End Audio Manufacturers Featuring John Franks, Founder, Owner and chief designer at Chord Electronics

 

  During Enjoy the Music.com's very special 25th Anniversary we're asking various high-end audio manufacturers to answer the same ten questions. Their answers may surprise you! This month we're featuring John Franks, Founder, Owner and Chief Designer at Chord Electronics. Chord Electronics offers a broad range of high-end amplification and digital conversion products including: DACs, headphone amplifiers, mobile audio components, music streamers, upscalers, integrated amplifiers, pre-amplifiers, stereo power amplifiers, mono power amplifiers, MM and MC phono stages and CD players.

 

We Ask 10 Questions For High-End Audio Manufacturers Featuring John Franks, Founder, Owner and chief designer at Chord Electronics

 

Q. What is your first memory of falling in love with music?

A. I was just twelve years old; we had very good but unfortunately highly strung, rather neurotic, prickly and even, at first, spiteful middle-aged tight-bun-headed music teacher.  The whole class would enjoy sending her into apoplexy through the application of liberal amounts of mucking about and sullen indifference; she must have truly hated her job and all of us schoolboys.

To pacify the class on one particularly hot, boring and sultry afternoon, she had just about had enough and had given up as we slumped half-asleep across our school desks.  She put on a piece of Debussy's music (after she had explained it a little) I think it was Daphne and Chloe or Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun.

In our adolescent clock-watching revelry, listening to this impressionist masterpiece, something just snapped into place: I suddenly 'got' what it was all about. Strangely, this affected several of us in the class who later delighted the old teacher by actually becoming interested and wanting to hear other similar pieces then more pieces by other composers. Eventually, we all got to enjoy her classes.

 

Q. How did you first get introduced to high-fidelity audio gear?

A. I was given an electronics kit made by Phillips when I was nine and I'd soon mastered how to make some simple circuits. But after a while, I started to make other circuits. I'd found a small, old shop in town that fixed TVs and sold components, so I'd save my pocket money and get on the bus into town to go and buy bits and put them together with varying amounts of success and failure. I learned how to solder with an iron the size of a pair of hair curlers and I made crystal radios and Superhet radios and small amplifiers.

 

Q. What is your favorite piece of vintage hi-fi, and why?

A. As a teenager, behind my house, there was a wooded area and gentle hills with huge green fields and a disused old chalk quarry that people would dump old radios into. None of them worked. I'd rob them of parts to make other stuff, but one time I'd found and old short-wave radio and took it home and got it going. It had a Bakelite moulded case and it polished up beautifully. I'd listen to stations from all over the world at night.

 

Q. When did you decide to start a high-end audio company?

A. In my early twenties, I was working as an avionics engineer and I'd seen and worked on some truly wonderfully designed and made electronics that were tens of years in advance of normal commercial electronics, so I knew what was possible.  At that time, I made amplifiers for my friend's disco and we'd go around all the local nightspots. I attended a hi-fi show and was intrigued by the huge amplifiers I'd seen there, but thought perhaps I could use my advance avionics knowledge to do better. But by then, my career took off and soon I'd got married and left my interests behind and had become a company director of Raytheon and AT&T, however, I'd not totally forgotten my love of putting stuff together and I fished out a design idea I had that used some avionics design knowledge I had. Usually, I'd mess around on a rainy afternoon until one day, I felt I really had something and decided I'd like to try to build and sell it.

 

Q. What, and when, was your company's first product?

A. It was 1989 and I was working for another company and my fellow directors said they'd like to build my design, which they did. I'd assumed that because I had all this advanced technical knowledge, I could make an amplifier just as good and as powerful, but an eighth the size of the huge American amplifiers on the market at the time. Big mistake! No-one would believe it could compare, though actually it was better, but no one bought it. The unit was called the SPM 900 amplifier.  So, I redesigned the case to make the amp about eight times larger and after gaining a few nice reviews for the imaginatively newly named SPM 1200 we never looked back once the unit was selling well.  I gave up my high-powered industrial career and started Chord Electronics in my garage.

 

We Ask 10 Questions For High-End Audio Manufacturers Featuring John Franks, Founder, Owner and chief designer at Chord Electronics

 

Q. What challenges did you face during those early years?

A. Lack of funding, lack of credibility, lack of staff, lack of everything to run a business, really, but I was ecstatically happy just building a few amplifiers and going out selling them. I got a break when The BBC came knocking. They had a studio problem and had heard about the advanced amps I was making. They liked the sample I supplied and soon I had a contract to supply them and the credibility that came with it.

 

Q. How have your products evolved over the years?

A. We've always been a highly technical company, pushing at the known boundaries of technological advancements, throughout the whole period we have been in business. As new devices become available, we'd use them to make constant and relentless advancements.

 

We Ask 10 Questions For High-End Audio Manufacturers Featuring John Franks, Founder, Owner and chief designer at Chord Electronics

 

Q. What is your company's most popular product(s)?

A. In 2013 we developed a product for the mobile and headphone market, Hugo. It and subsequent mobile products, have been a great success and have grown the business by a thousand percent in about two years.

 

We Ask 10 Questions For High-End Audio Manufacturers Featuring John Franks, Founder, Owner and chief designer at Chord Electronics

 

Q. What is your next planned product offering and its' features?

A. We have five ranges of products. We will be bringing out more products in those ranges to enhance them all.  Though, I'm sure you will understand that I can't go into individual products details, save to say they follow the philosophy of pushing the known technology of today to its limits.

 

We Ask 10 Questions For High-End Audio Manufacturers Featuring John Franks, Founder, Owner and chief designer at Chord Electronics

 

Q. What advancements do you speculate high-end audio will offer ten years from now?

A. I think loudspeaker coils will become far smaller and lighter allowing high-quality loudspeakers to evolve beyond all recognition. Gallium nitride power devices will allow for limitless power in tiny packages, powered by solid-state batteries with at least four times the power of current-generation, bulky Lithium-ion types. 

 

 

 

We Ask 10 Questions For High-End Audio Manufacturers Featuring John Franks, Founder, Owner and chief designer at Chord Electronics

Manufacturer
Chord Electronics 
The Pumphouse, Farleigh Lane
East Farleigh, Maidstone
Kent, ME16 9NB
United Kingdom

Website: www.ChordElectronics.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
 

Quick Links


Audiophile Review Magazine
High-End Audio Equipment Reviews

 

Equipment Review Archives
Turntables, Cartridges, Etc
Digital Source
Do It Yourself (DIY)
Preamplifiers
Amplifiers
Cables, Wires, Etc
Loudspeakers/ Monitors
Headphones, IEMs, Tweaks, Etc
Ultra High-End Audio Reviews

 

Videos
Enjoy the Music.TV

 

Columns
Editorials By Tom Lyle
Viewpoint By Roger Skoff
Viewpoint By Steven R. Rochlin
Various Think Pieces
Manufacturer Articles


Show Reports
The HiFi Summit Q2 2020
AXPONA 2020 Show Report
Bristol Hi-Fi Show Report 2020
Florida Audio Expo 2020 Show Report
New York Audio Show 2019 Report
Capital Audiofest 2019 Show Report
Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) 2019
High End Munich 2019 Show Report
AXPONA 2019 Show Report
Zagreb AV Show Report 2019
CanJam Singapore 2019 Show Report
Salon Audio Montreal Audio Fest 2019
Click here for previous shows.

 

Other
Audiophile Contests
Cool Free Stuff For You
Tweaks For Your System
Vinyl Logos For LP Lovers
Lust Pages Visual Beauty

 

Resources & Information
Music Definitions
Hi-Fi Definitions

 


Daily Industry News

High-End Audio News & Information

 

Partner Print Magazines
audioXpress
Australian Hi-Fi Magazine
hi-fi+ Magazine
HIFICRITIC
HiFi Media
Hi-Fi World
Sound Practices
VALVE Magazine

 

For The Press & Industry
About Us
Press Releases
Official Site Graphics

 

Contests & Our Mailing List

Our free newsletter for monthly updates & enter our contests!

 

 

    

Home   |   Industry News   |   Equipment Reviews   |   Press Releases   |   About Us   |   Contact Us

 

All contents copyright  1995 - 2020  HighEndAudio.com and Enjoy the Music.com
May not be copied or reproduced without permission.  All rights reserved.