Audiophile Odyssey: Behind the Scenes at B&W, Meridian, and Abbey Road Studios

On a recent UK trip, I got to visit the factories of high-end speaker company B&W, speaker and electronics company Meridian, and the legendary Abbey Road Studios. Here are those adventures, in pictures and words.

Geoffrey Morrison

Among the ancient castles, quaint houses, and picturesque countryside, Great Britain is actually a hotbed of high-end audio. Brands big and small pepper the island country from the southern coast to the northern highlands.

On a recent trip, I had the opportunity to visit three such storied companies: Bowers & Wilkins (speakers and headphones), Meridian (electronics and speakers), and Abbey Road Studios (where the Beatles and Pink Floyd recorded).

It was a long day. OK, day and a half.

Getting up at 6 a.m. while you're on vacation isn't ideal. That it was little rainy (in London, shocker!) didn't help. From Paddington where I was staying, it was a quick trip south on the Circle line to Victoria station, and my train to Worthing, a tiny town on the southern coast. Home to B&W.

A taxi at the train station, when I gave him the address, said "Bowers & Wilkins, eh?" Like I said, not a big town.

Spread across a number of industrial buildings within walking distance to the water, B&W designs and tests its myriad products, and builds most of its high-end speakers.

For the full behind-the-scenes with videos, check out "Going behind the scenes at the Bowers & Wilkins factory."

After a quick lunch of surprisingly tasty mini-sandwiches, it was time for the second leg of my adventure. This time, it was a car bound north, back past London, to the town of Huntingdon, northwest of Cambridge.

Where Worthing looked the part of a British seaside town, Huntingdon looked every bit the little English hamlet, Tudor houses and all.

As Meridian is primarily an electronics company (though they make speakers too), their building was smaller than B&W's spread. Though the methods to manufacture electronics varies little across different companies and industries, what happens after production varies a lot. In Meridian's case, extensive testing of each board ensures that every product performs exactly as the designers intended.

For the full look (with videos), check out "Getting to know the Meridian Audio factory."

We wrapped up close to dinnertime, and it was another long drive back into London. While both tours were fantastic, the next day held the promise of something even more amazing: Abbey Road Studios.

If you're a fan of British rock, or even just British music in general, you've probably heard about Abbey Road Studios. The Beatles recorded all their albums there. Pink Floyd recorded nearly all of their greatest there. Radiohead, Queen, Oasis, and dozens of others did, too. Standing in a place with such history was incredible. Check out all the behind-the-scenes pictures, including the most expensive piano you've ever seen (and would never guess about):

For the full tour info, check out the aptly named "Take a tour of Abbey Road Studios."

In a day and a half I certainly got to see a fascinating cross-section of both ends of the British audio scene. From speakers and electronics to the actual recording spaces, it was a quite a treat for this audiophile.


Got a question for Geoff? First, check out all the other articles he's written on topics like HDMI cables , LED LCD vs. plasma , active versus passive 3D , and more. Still have a question? Send him an e-mail! He won't tell you what TV to buy, but he might use your letter in a future article. You can also send him a message on Twitter @TechWriterGeoff or Google+.

About the author

Geoffrey Morrison is a freelance writer/photographer for CNET, Forbes, and TheWirecutter. He also writes for Sound&Vision magazine, HDGuru.com, and several others. He was Editor in Chief of Home Entertainment magazine and before that, Technical Editor of Home Theater magazine. He is NIST and ISF trained, and has a degree in Television/Radio from Ithaca College. His bestselling first novel, Undersea, is available in paperback and as an ebook on Amazon, B&N, and elsewhere.

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Show Comments Hide Comments
Latest Galleries from CNET
Tech industry's high-flying 2014
Uber's tumultuous ups and downs in 2014 (pictures)
The best and worst quotes of 2014 (pictures)
A roomy range from LG (pictures)
This plain GE range has all of the essentials (pictures)
Sony's 'Interview' heard 'round the world (pictures)