BREAKING THE MOULD
After years working under a corporate cloud, four dynamic and enthusiastic audio fans decided they would go it alone, and set out to design and build high-end products with a creative twist for the music makers within our industry. The result is Cranborne Audio, a fresh, in the moment, and determined young British company, driven wholly by passion.
“I have always wanted to run an audio company,” says managing director, Sean Karpowicz, eyes widening. “When I was at Soundcraft, I met these [three] guys, and I was amazed at the talent, and the complementary skill sets. This team was special, and I felt it; and we worked together to create some very special products, like the Signature [console]. Even though we were a little hamstrung in the way we did it, we had the essence. But the idea with Cranborne Audio is that it’s just us, and we make all of the decisions - and that is what makes the difference.” The four-man, ex-Soundcraft team of Karpowicz, creative director, Andy Pat, director of engineering, Ed Holmes, and product manager, Elliott Thomas, share a goal of making top quality studio recording easily accessible to the entire creative community, without breaking the bank. And at the heart of the operation is no-compromise, lovely analogue hardware. Fantastic. “I conceived the idea for Cranborne Audio when the announcement was
made that [Soundcraft HQ] Potters Bar was closing,” Karpowicz recalls. “I was upset, of course, but knew it was also an opportunity for me to get so many of my ideas out and into the market. I knew the guys so well, and knew we could do something special. I also thought as it was Cranborne House that was closing, calling the company Cranborne Audio would be very cool, and apt.” Post-Soundcraft, Karpowicz first went and worked for Aston mics, and says part of the draw was the fact that everything was high-end, made in the UK, yet still affordable. “It was at Aston that I realised it really doesn’t take that much to make something happen; one or two very driven people, and good talent,” says Karpowicz. “Ed followed me to Aston as hardware engineer, and although we had never worked directly together before, we knew we could talk tech, and work fast. “But the whole Cranborne thing was burning in my brain. I then messaged Andy and Ed, and we met at my place.
They both understood what I wanted to accomplish.” The first ideas – and there were plenty – centred around the production of preamps. Karpowicz knew Ed Holmes was a whizz with these products, and felt that was where the business should focus all of its attention. “Pre-amp was in my head for good reasons, and Ed had also been thinking about it; when Ed was at Soundcraft, he took the Ghost [console] preamp and fixed it,” Karpowicz smiles. “The Ghost had a sound, and it is a challenge to resurrect something where parts are basically obsolete. So I knew how capable he was.” But six months down the line, with a product roadmap taking shape, Karpowicz became aware that Cranborne was a little too engineerfocused, so approached highly skilled musician, Elliott Thomas, someone he’d worked with very closely at Soundcraft, and whose approach to audio was always from the musician’s perspective. “Our product roadmap started out as,