Phil Wannell and I have been mates for a while now and he has been a strong supporter of Headfonics for a few years under his previous brand, Custom Cables. Times change though and this week Phil and his hard working team have opened up an entirely new brand, Audio Sanctuary. Remember this is the team responsible for the massively successful Headroom Audio show every year in London so I am expecting cool things from these guys and Phil was only too happy to tell us all about it last week and what UK Audiophiles can expect.
1. So tell us a bit about Audio Sanctuary and what they are all about?
Audio Sanctuary has morphed from Custom Cable that started trading in 1985 as a purely mail order company. As the name suggests we started out selling high-quality cables for home audio systems. In 2009 Custom Cable launched an online site where it was easier to see our extensive range of products and for customers to purchase from us. During the following few years, we made the decision to invest in the portable audio market and listed the first audio device on our website with the Colorfly C4. This was the start of the future of Custom Cable and now Audio Sanctuary.
2. Why the change from Custom Cable to Audio Sanctuary – A Changing market?
With the addition of the Colorfly C4 in our inventory, it was clear that we were on to a winner as sales took off. We dramatically expanded our inventory to include headphones and many portable players but as this became what we were known for, Custom Cable really didn’t fit the bill so we decided to rebrand to something a little less specific.
3. Are you still going to be making cables under the AS brand?
You bet! We chose the name as it still encompasses the audio side of our business so we can now offer anything related to audio effectively. We had been a tad limited by our previous name as many people have pointed out to us over the years of trading as Custom Cable. Now we can expand and grow and not be held back by our name. I am hoping that this is a wise decision, but I guess only time cam tell.
4. You guys run the Headroom brand also right? How does this all fit in with your plan for world domination?
World domination, not sure about that. :-) Yeah, we run the headroom show for the UK market as it was something missing from our shores. There is a market for this type of industry here and we thought that the only way to expand into different consumers was to attract a wider audience. headroom’s inaugural show back in January 2015 was much, much better than we had ever anticipated and with that in mind have expanded again. This time, we will have another show (headroom @ indulgence) in October which will enable us to have an even larger area. This will mean we can fit plenty more exhibitors in that we unfortunately had to turn away at January’s headroom due to space constraints with the venue we use.
5. Introduce the team Phil, who are the key players?
Well I kind of run the website and social media activities of AS. I guess I’m the spokesman of the brand and know a thing or two about the equipment and synergy of various products. We have 6 other team members who help run our London, UK Store and whom each has their own specialism. David knows everything there is to know about Home Cinema, Joe knows a lot about everything. Vernon and Keith both know their way around a turntable and Amit is the cable specialist. We also have our own installer, Erick who is awesome at getting your lovely equipment all set up and working flawlessly. It gives us a great advantage as we can pretty much try and help with any audio related inquiry across our 330 odd years of knowledge and experience.
6. What is your opinion on the UK audiophile market as it currently stands compared to other markets?
Different, very different. I think we are certainly ahead of the game and are slowly catching up with how things are in the far east. We have many people here wanting to invest in high-quality audio devices and headphones that are not only by the big, famous brands you see on TV. We find that people are more than happy to make a big investment in portable audio.
7. What’s hot these days in terms of buying from AS?
Anything that sounds good. :-P In all seriousness people have keen ears and just because the paper says something is well specced doesn’t mean Joe Bloggs will like it. That’s I guess part of my job. I like to listen to things, I enjoy hearing what works and what doesn’t. Plenty of times you can pair up an awesome spec player with an insanely great pair of headphones but it just doesn’t “work”. When I say work I don’t mean turn on, I just mean get your foot tapping. Pair the player with another pair of headphones and you get a completely different sound that not only gets your foot tapping but makes you want more. :-)
9. What is unique about AS in the UK market?
I think I will be ultra cheeky and just say, contact us to see how we work. :-) I don’t want to give away our USP. The only thing I will say is that we are in London and just 22 minutes from Waterloo. We may also have a large, very large selection of products available for demonstration.
10. Describe the typical UK audiophile? Big spender, DIY guy?
The UK audiophile, that’s tricky and has certainly changed over the years. They used to be into their home HiFi, now they are keen on their portable and home headphone setup. Across the board, some are big spenders and others love to tinker with valves on an almost daily basis. It really is a very broad spectrum in the UK and I love it. No client is the same and all have exceptionally different requirements.
Location & Contact Details
Audio Sanctuary is located at:
35 High Street, New Malden,
Greater London / Surrey
Tel: +44 20 8942 9124