Stevens & Billington manufacture products for the professional and top
end of the hi-fi markets. This is a specialised niche market, where both
technical performance and product aesthetics hold sway.
We had been manufacturing the cases for their existing Passive Magnetic Pre
amplifier, when in 2007, Stevens & Billington came to us with a new product,
that was to be not only technically superior, but that would utilise a radically
different mechanical design.
O'Sullivan of Stevens & Billington
"Late in 2007 we set about designing a new cost-no-object version
of our multiple-award-winning preamplifier. Holt Broadcast Services has been
manufacturing the cases for our products from the very beginning. We have
always been very happy with the service we receive from Holt and the quality
of their products, so we naturally approached them with our new project.
I had a brief conversation with Nigel regarding this new product and our
intention that at no point would we allow ourselves to be constrained by the
usual manufacturing concerns namely, cost, complexity and time. As ever, we
found Holt quickly understood our design goals and were happy to work with us
to realise them. Over time, drawings, sketches and ideas were bounced back and
forth and our overriding impression was that nothing was too much trouble. The
product contains very heavy components, requires internal vibration damping
and we had a further request that there should be no visible fixings, on what
is already quite a difficult design. Careful attention was paid to every
aspect of our brief and wherever possible, helpful suggestions were offered
which made the final design a joint effort.
our first prototype, and while it was exactly what we had asked for, we found
that several changes were required. We were most grateful when we were visited
by Alan and Graham (the key contacts on this project) to discuss the
product and look at our work to date. This discussion quickly resulted in some
wonderful suggestions from Graham, about how we could overcome problems. We
duly implemented these suggestions and the result is a five star review in a
leading Hi Fi Magazine and some extremely satisfied customers. High End Hi Fi
is a very difficult market and the quality of construction is considered by
every potential customer as vital.
We have always
attempted to manufacture and source every part for our products in the UK. Holt Broadcast Services
is a prime example that high quality manufacture is alive and
well in the UK. They couple excellence in manufacture with exemplary customer
service. Again, the impression that nothing is too much trouble has come
across in every dealing we've had with Holt. We needed our new preamplifier to
be housed in a case that demonstrated excellence in design and manufacture.
Holt absolutely obliged and we have no hesitation in recommending their
The relatively simple lines of the finished product belie the considerable
amount of work that has gone on behind the scenes. In particular, the alignment
of the formed cover to the front and rear panels proved particularly
challenging. In order to try to finalise as much of the design as possible,
before prototype production was attempted, the unit was initially 3D modelled in
our design department. Brush graining was used to achieve the final finish the
client was looking for.
The MF Audio Reference Preamplifier product was launched late in 2007 to
considerable critical acclaim and was given a 5 star review by Hi-Fi World, who
said it was "one of the very best preamplifiers yet made" (http://www.mfaudio.co.uk/press/hfwrefjul08.pdf