Our Story

Q&A: Philip Swift

Philip swift is the spiritual father of Audiolab, and along with co-founder Derek Scotland, he designed, manufactured and marketed the Audiolab range in its original incarnation.

How did Audiolab begin?

Derek and I met as students at Imperial College in London. We shared a flat together, had a similar technical background and were both frustrated that decent audio equipment cost so much. Plus, a lot of it back then was difficult to use; for example, amplifiers were very sensitive to the loudspeakers they were used with. So we put together a design over a number of years that would solve this. In time we went from a bedroom in my Cambridge house to a small unit, then a 17,500sq ft facility in Huntingdon.

What was your philosophy?

To create well-engineered products that offered a high order of sound quality, and that were good value. And they had to be attractive and reliable. This often meant starting from scratch in order to engineer better products and finding ways of doing this cost effectively. In terms of quality and price we were always more BMW than Rolls Royce.

What were the key products?

The first product was the 8000A integrated amplifier, launched in 1983. It solved the loudspeaker problem and was seamless in its operation. We’d even been to the Far East to source high quality parts, which wasn’t the norm in Europe but obviously was for the successful Japanese companies at the time. This gave the 8000A the reliability we wanted. People didn’t think we could sustain the level of quality at this price, but we’d looked hard at the costs and knew we could - that was the whole concept. After that the 8000T tuner stands out. I believe to this day it was the only time a UK product has matched the performance of the best Japanese and German tuners.

Who was your typical buyer?

We appealed to a broad spectrum. We also had a good relationship with our distributors and retailers. For example, retailers learned you could put an audio lab amp in a system and it would sound good immediately. If it’s easy to demonstrate, it’s easier to sell!