About Us – In The Very Beginning
Way back in 1997 was when John Cheadle and Steve Elford first met, and started discussing their ideas. Steve was a senior engineer officer in the Royal Air Force (RAF), working on a variety of defence acquisition projects (specialising in avionics and mission systems), but he was also experimenting in his spare time with acoustic effects on hi-fi components. John Cheadle was at this time designing for AudioCom and Marston Audio.
John Cheadle – co-founder of Vertex AQ
Vertex AQ Was Formed In 1999
After 2 years spent developing the technology, products and business ideas, Vertex AQ first started doing business in 1999 – we made our first few sales (the mk1 Jaya) towards the end of that year.
The Early Years
We carried on developing our technology and products into a good range of support platforms, cables and mains filters. We had ironed-out most of the business issues, and our products were very repeatable, robust and reliable. We had secured a few more UK dealers and the orders were slowly, but consistently, trickling in.
In 2002 we thought we ought to try out some hi-fi shows, and had just enough in our budget to afford 2 shows a year. With small demo rooms, we plied our wares, and people came in, and genuinely liked what they heard – which was very encouraging! One visitor to our listening room in September 2003 was Paul Messenger (PM), who liked what he heard so much invited us over to his place to ‘prove it’.
This invite to PM’s turned out to be a major break for us. PM was stunned by our products and their unified approach to system problems – so he wrote a review for hi>fi+. You can download this review (our first), called ‘Just Like Busses’, from the Review section of this website. However, it didn’t end there, PM also nominated us for a hi>fi+ product of the year award in 2004. We got a nice framed picture and an award writeup (see Reviews again).
Between 1999 and 2005 Vertex AQ operated as a ‘Sole Trader’ under Steve Elford’s name – but things soon went up another gear.
As a result of winning the hi>fi+ award at the end of 2004, business started increasing significantly, so during the early part of 2005 we become an incorporated company. Also, because of the increasing success of the company, Steve decided to take an early retirement option, and left the RAF at the end of 2005.
Since 2005 we have continually increased our annual investment in the development of our technical principles and their applications to new products. As a result the product range has continually expanded and evolved, with additions such as the HiRez interconnects and HiRez support platforms extending the envelope. Perhaps most significantly however, our mains products have taken a great leap forward with the introduction of the Taga distribution/filter block, and the addition of HiRez mains leads to the range. See products section for full details of these items.
Demand And Manufacturing
We are very pleased that our products are now constantly in demand. We have enjoyed outstanding press coverage in the last couple of years – and their interest in what we do gets ever stronger. We also have good dealers who understand how the Vertex products work, and more importantly, how to use them to great effect in all manner of systems. However, demand really only comes from customers, and we’ve learned that customer satisfaction is paramount in the overall scheme of things. We think our efforts have paid off – most customers are completely blown away by the Vertex experience.
The core of our business is of course manufacturing, and every product in the range is hand-built. We have a small industrial unit in mid-Wales, where everything comes together. We do obviously out-source materials, some machining, and case manufacture. Most material comes from UK, Europe or the US.
Steve Elford – co-founder of Vertex AQ
Working With Acuity Products
One of the key elements with the development of our scientific understanding, is our long-term relationship with another Welsh company, called Acuity Products. One of the key members of Acuity Products is Dr Gareth Humphreys-Jones, the Company’s mathematics lead. His expertise in the science of signal propagation and processing is used by us in support of the development of the Vertex AQ strategies and products. And it’s a two-way street, with our in-house research at Vertex we have also supported Acuity Products in the development of their technologies too. See Dr Gareth Humphreys-Jones’ bio in the right hand menu.
R&D And New Product Releases
We are always doing some form of R&D. Whether its listening to new component parts or a new product prototype, back home in the Vertex households, there is always something new running. In ‘The Unit’ there is often a new construction technique being tried out – such as that which resulted in the improved acoustic absorption in the HiRez products.
As we get nearer to finalizing a new product we always discuss it with some of our dealers – how its likely to perform, practical considerations, cost, likely customer buy-in etc. Then, if its a significant new product (like the Elbrus balanced PSU) we make a technology demonstrator and send it out to 1 or 2 dealers for their verdict. Only once everyone is happy that the performance, practicality and value for money are right does it go into production.
The Future – Who Knows?
Well, basically, we intent to keep developing exciting new products as best we can – watch this space!!!