March 1, 2004

Celestion Factory Tour

The phrase “British tone” conjures romantic images of Marshall and Vox. But those archetypal amps needed a speaker to complete their aural assault, and the makers didn’t have to look any further than their fellow Brits over at Celestion.

I was recently invited to tour Celestion’s new state-of-the-art facility in Ipswich, England—the home of Celestion for more than 40 years. The modern, ergonomically designed factory clearly trumps the old building—which Celestion Marketing Manager Paul Richardson described as being straight out of Reservoir Dogs—and offers a state-of-the-art hemi-anechoic chamber for precision audio measurement, as well as a sweet listening room where I heard a prototype of the company’s killing new 10" speaker.

For a brand so closely identified with all things British, it was initially disconcerting to learn that Celestion has moved much of its manufacturing to China. However, Celestion’s Chinese factory is actually owned and operated by the company—unlike many Chinese factories which build any number of products for various manufacturers under the same roof—and it only makes Celestion speakers. In addition, models such as the Vintage 30s and greenbacks are constructed using the original processes that made the speakers legendary.

“We still build the Blue alnico [the famous speaker found in the Vox AC30] in Ipswich, and we’re capable of building smaller runs of Vintage 30s and greenbacks here, as well,” says Celestion’s Andy Farrow. “And we can even do tweaks to the speaker if the customer wants. So you can also think of Ipswich as a speaker custom shop. With these two factories, Celestion are clearly geared up to be as strong in this century as we were in the last.”

—Darrin Fox  

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