Why the 1970s were the perfect time to start a British hi-fi company

What do Linn, Naim and Rega all have in common? Well, they’re all British hi-fi brands. And they all made a turntable and amplifier. Indeed, there are plenty of answers to this question given the vast amounts of overlapping products the companies have produced over the years. But no, I’m coming to something more specific, and that’s the year all three of these venerable manufacturers were founded – 1973. Exactly 50 years ago this year.

Allow a little leeway and extend that to either side for a few years and you can include Arcam (1976, when it was called A&R Cambridge), NAD (1972) and Monitor Audio (1972) in that group. QED is another with a date of birth in 1973. And that’s just the UK brands! I’m sure that list would grow exponentially if we looked beyond British shores.

This got me thinking: was there something special about that time that encouraged people to start hi-fi companies, or was it all just a happy coincidence? Of Which Hi-Fi?With British Hi-Fi Week fast approaching (our themed editorial event is now live!), I asked some of the industry’s wiser and more mature members and got a surprisingly wide range of answers covering all aspects of life. considering that moment time…

Arcam A60

A&R Cambridge’s first amplifier, the classic A60 (Image credit: Future)

Appropriately, it begins with music. Do a quick Google search for the best albums of the 1970s and you’ll probably be as shocked as I was at the number that are considered musical milestones. The list includes Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, and David Bowie’s The Fall and Rise of Ziggy Stardust, just to name a few. The availability of such brilliant music must have been a strong driver for the success of the audio industry with music fans wanting to hear every detail of their favorite recording.

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