The History of Audio Innovations
Audio Innovations was founded by Peter Qvortrup and Erik Andersson in 1984. Their first products were the 800 Series power amp and matching pre.
The valve amplifiers of the 1980’s occupied the high-end almost exclusively. By cntrast, most of the valve amplifiers of the 1950’s and 60’s were not nearly as expensive as their newer equivalents. In contrast to many other companies, Audio Innovations continued the noble tradition of making the valve amplifier an affordable item – the aim was to have one in every home.
In 1986 Audio Innovations were seemingly the first to reintroduce integrated valve amplifiers. The Series 500, a mid-priced 25 watt integrated, become probably the biggest selling valve amp of the late 1980’s while the 300 integrated was the least expensive valve amplifier then available. In keeping with the firm’s cost conscious approach early models like the Series 800, 500 and 300 cost the equivalent figure in Sterling when first introduced.
Most frequently Audio Innovations used EL34 power pentodes. Their smaller amplifiers use EL84 output pentodes and the Series 300 uses ECL86 triode-driver/output-pentodes. These designs typically use paraphase phase-splitters, and Class A push-pull output stages with ultra linear feedback configurations. Relatively little negative feedback is used. Their amps were typically designed to suit conventional efficiency loudspeakers. A few rarer zero feedback pentode models like the Series 200, 400, and 800 Mk2 are extremely intolerant of speaker loads which limit their application unduly.
Erik Andersson returned to Sweden in 1986. Peter Qvortrup exited in October 1989, but designers like Guy Adams, and others like Guy Sergeant, maintained the design ethos of the company. While other companies were beginning to introduce exotic high-end triode amplifiers, Audio Innovations was prototyping a “Third Audio” amplfier, using the then extremely novel 845 bright-emitter triode in push-pull. This amp was shown at hi-fi shows in 1990, but never released commercially. A company called Audio Components acquired Audio Innovations in 1991. The new owners changed their approach by focusing more on the lower end of the valve market. Audio Innovations branched out into kits and even introduced a transistor amp with an old style quasi-complimentary output stage.
In 1996 Audio Partnership bought the brand. This was regrettable as they also bought a number of other once excellent firms like TDL that were then used to brand low grade products. The production of Valve amps ended, and the Audio Innovations brand was used for inexpensive lifestyle systems, shelving and silver tinned wiring sold principally by the Richer Sounds budget retail chain in the UK.
After leaving Audio Innovations in 1989, Peter Qvortrup, in partnership with founder of Audio Note, Hiroyasu Kondo, created a distribution channel known as Audio Note UK. When an unprecedented economic crisis hit the Southeast Asian countries in 1997, Audio Note split into two separate entities: Audio Note Japan, which continued to operate in Asian countries, and Audio Note UK, which maintained control of European distribution. Mr. Qvortup acquired the English division of Audio Note in 1998.