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Stevens & Billington

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Stevens & Billington

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.

The Project

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.

The Challenge

Harry 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.

We ordered 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 services."

 

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 ).

www.mfaudio.co.uk