The best of... BRITISH

Timothy Barber
Follow Timothy
TECH enthusiasts like to think themselves a pretty unflappable bunch, but just now we can’t help coming over all patriotic. The fact is, one of the little-celebrated things at which the Brits are world-leaders is high-end audio technology. We’re not talking the kind of thing most people have in their sitting rooms. No, this is about talking highly-specialised, cost-of-a-car technology for dedicated audiophiles. Companies like Meridian, KEF and Naim have been breaking boundaries, patenting technology and leading the way in these areas for years. Today, wiping away a proud tear, we salute them. Atten-SHUN!

Based in Maidstone in Kent – the name stands for Kent Engineering & Foundry – KEF was founded in 1961 in a Nissen hut on the premises of a metal working business. It’s now producing exemplary audio-gear, including the T-series of ultra-thin speakers which use unique British technology.


Audiophiles regard the CD players Salisbury-based Naim produces as being among the finest on the planet, and people happily pay five figure sums to own them. The company makes all manner of ultra-high-end music systems, including this award-winning integrated player. Naim is also behind the in-car audio systems for Bentley cars.


The new kid on the block, Orbitsound launched in 2008 specialising in “spatial stereo” – using very clever tech to create a surround sound effect that doesn’t depend on placing multiple speakers around the room. The T12 Soundbar is designed for use on home cinema systems, and also has an iPod dock function. Nifty.


Meridian is the daddy of the British audiophile industry. Founded in 1977 and based in Cambridgeshire, it’s most famous for its spectacular digital active loud speakers that have to be seen and heard to be believed. The latest Meridian creation, the Audio Core 200 comes with dinky mini versions of the speakers.


Vita Audio was founded five years ago by Brit loudspeaker maker Ruark, with the aim of creating cool compact audio systems and radios. The newly-launched R4i integrated music centre sums up Vita Audio’s amalgamation of retro-cool design and top audio quality.