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Audio T History

Audio T was started by John Bartlett in 1966. Originally called Audio Technica it rapidly dropped the "echnica" when the Japanese company of the same name complained. Nothing ever replaced it!

Originally, Audio Technica was a part time activity. Adverts were placed in The Gramophone for equipment described as ex-dem or display. It was 100% brand new, however, as brand new equipment was not allowed to be sold at discount prices.

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Audio T moved from John's home to the top floor of Dryden Chambers off London's Oxford Street in 1968. The building can be seen in Alfred Hitchcock's "Frenzy" and was originally a Victorian brothel! This picture is taken from the film - the shop operated from the building at the back of the picture.

The company made its mark as an individual shop that was not afraid to speak its mind, even though it cost business. If a product wasn't up to scratch they would have it independently tested and voice the results. It didn't matter how big and respected the companies were (there was a famous argument with Leak at the time). Always trying to find better and more reliable equipment, they were willing to give small companies a chance and this is what made Audio T so successful.

The shop had a string of famous customers including Dennis Healey, John Williams, Terry Gilliam and a certain Farad Azima - now well known as the founder of Mission. Also worthy of mention were Stewart Tyler and Blue Sutcliffe of Celef (Celestion and Kef) and Martin Colloms of Monitor Audio fame.

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Needing more space the shop moved to West Hampstead in 1972 where it continued to be Britain's most innovative retailer, offering such firsts as direct cut discs, optional five-year warranties and full test reports on amplifiers sold. Unusually Audio T closed on Mondays and its notorious Midnight Sales were a renowned feature of this period. Audio T was a very unorthodox company - unconventional hours, dress and views - and people loved it!

Even in these early days it was branching out: Audio T Cambridge started in 1971 and Audio T Windsor in 1974. But this expansion didn't last and ultimately John sold out to concentrate on helping people with learning difficulties. Tony Jones then picked up the baton and expanded both Audio T and AT Labs through the 1970's and 80's. Originally planned as an external service department, AT Labs quickly became a major retailer in its own right and continues today as our branch in Chase Side, Enfield just yards from the original shop. In 1990 he joined with Oxford retailers Absolute Sound and Video and the current Audio T group was created.


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In 2002 we took over the running of the three Jeffries Hi-Fi stores along the South coast and in September 2008 we merged with like-minded companies, Audio Excellence and Practical Hi-Fi.

Through the years Audio T has had a legion of well-known customers, particularly musicians, who we believe appreciated our blend of innovation and honesty. Those you may have heard of include Emma Watson, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Noel Gallagher, Justin Hawkins (The Darkness), Paul Potts (Winner of Britain's Got Talent 2007), Bonnie Tyler, Karl Hyde and Rick Smith of Underworld, Dr Karl Jenkins, Julian Mendelsohn (Record Producer), Jay Kay (Jamiroquai), Will Young, Russell Watson, Mark Potter (Elbow lead guitar), Bernard Sumner from New Order, Mani (Stone Roses), Joe Jackson, John McVie of Fleetwood Mac, Gary Brooker of Procal Harum, Elton John, Keith Moon, Vivian Stanshall, Keith Emerson, Brian Davison of the Nice, Sid Vicious, Kevin Rowland, Ian Maclagan of the Small Faces, Russ Ballard and Colin Blunstone of the Zombies, Leo Sayer, Johnny Rotten and, in a different vein, Leopold Stowkowsky the conductor. Non-musical customers include Jamie Oliver, Jon Motson, Graeme Hick (England and Worcestershire cricket player), Rowan Atkinson, Nigel Benn, Burt Wouk, Andrew Sachs, Matt Lucas and Sir Roger Bannister.