Delphine Dall - Cabasse
Cabasse is recognized as one of the best known loudspeaker manufacturers, and one which gives us very interesting products, especially in the high end segment. Founded in 1950 by Georges Cabasse, the firm inherited not only its creator's name, but also his genius as his special gift, a memory for sounds led him to design one of the most original and striking loudspeakers on the market. On the company's website we also found that Cabasse's roots go back to 1740 and a luthier who crafted the first violin signed Cabasse. Interesting, isn't it? And what about the present day? To learn more about that we conducted an interview with Delphine Dall.
She joined the company in 2011 after having acquired experience in export and international business. Delphine is now handling the sales for Europe, Middle East, Africa and Latin America spending most of time on the field to train and educate company's partners and customers about the brand and technology. She's however based in Brest, Brittany where she can enjoy the pleasure of sailing when she's not visiting customers abroad.
As we know, various brands are seen differently depending on a country. I guess Cabasse has a pretty strong position in France, but what about other countries in which your speakers are distributed? What would be a, let's say, top ten in terms of sales?
Cabasse has had a strong position on many European markets for decades. Some of our partners have been with us for over 30 years, in Germany or Belgium for example. More recently, the company has invested a lot in developing its activity on a wider scale, with new distributors coming on board in Asia, Pacific, Northern and Southern America and Middle East. Our brand is widely acclaimed worldwide for its wide products range going from €600 a pair to €100000 and leaving the customers several design alternatives traditional, lifestyle, custom install and more recently streaming with no compromise on the sound quality.
Cabasse is a company with very long traditions and history starting in 1950, but you joined the team quite recently. What influence does this whole legacy have on the way the company is functioning now?
Cabasse has indeed a strong heritage dating back to 1950's if we refer to the loudspeakers and if we look further, we realise that the Cabasse ancestors were already violin makers in the 18th century. This passion for good sound and music still remains at the core of what Cabasse is doing today. Not only Georges Cabasse left a strong print on Cabasse's sound signature but also on the necessity to involve all areas of physics to make a perfect sounding loudspeaker. Today, the R&D team still accounts for half of the staff and focuses on coupling Georges Cabasse's acoustic heritage and the most advanced and recent technologies in drivers, DSP and electronics development.
Another interesting thing is the background behind the first projects. I've heard that the founder of the company, didn't have any degree in acoustics or electronics when he started the company. Is that true?
Georges Cabasse is a real music lover and self-taught man in acoustics. He was so passionate with music that he soon started to build his own hi-fi system. It was after the World War II and Georges Cabasse was surprised at how the speaker's manufacturer of the time were not taking into account distortion when building a speaker. The first company he founded 'La Maison du Haut Parleur' (The House of Drivers) was dedicated to repairing drivers. This is how Georges Cabasse and his team quickly became acquainted with all the latest acoustic techniques of the time. One thing leading to another, they quickly started to produce their own drivers and speakers trying to make them sound as similar as what one could hear in a live concert.
You are also a bit of an outsider because Cabasse is the first company from the audio industry that you've worked for. Did you have some experience with high end audio before? Was it difficult to enter this market and familiarize with all its eccentricities?
Whatever the industry, you need to start somewhere! Thankfully the audio industry is about passion for music, which I had long before joining the company. Entering the market was actually a lot of fun, as it allows to share this passion with the entire world. Cabasse offers solutions so unique that it's always great to bring new partners and customers to this new experience.
Some of Cabasse's speakers, especially the high end ones, are also seen as weird and eccentric, but it's all driven by the idea of a perfect single-source speaker. Where did this concept came from, when was it first implemented in Cabasse speakers and why is it so unique?
The obsession for point source was in George Cabasse's mind since day one, as designing speakers on a vertical level never made much sense to him. The first Cabasse coaxial driver was designed in the early 50's, but at that time the technology was not ready to be manufactured at a decent price for end users. The idea made its proper debut in the 90's. In the meantime, Cabasse had grown into the leading French loudspeaker brand, acquiring R&D resources to fully develop and launch point source solutions. In 1993, the first SCS (Spatially Coherent Source) system was born Atlantis, which already carried much of La Sphère's DNA.
Your engineers claim that the value of your speakers comes not only from their unusual shape, but also modern and advanced materials used to make them. What are your biggest achievements on this field?
Some of our materials are inspired by the aeronautics industry, as we are after a good mix between lightness and rigidity. The other keyword would be transparency. We stay away from membranes that sound like the material they're made of. We also need to make sure that each driver uses materials adapted to their desired frequency response. In the case of La Sphère, each part of the 4-way coaxial uses a different material. I believe our biggest achievement is to adapt materials designed for top end to the needs of affordable systems. For example, everything we learned with the tweeter for la Sphère benefits tiny Surf.
Cabasse's factory is located in Brest, on the western coast of France. You claim that most of the speakers are manufactured there, so which one is the cheapest model made entirely in France?
And this is not only a claim but reality! Most of our mid to high end speakers are manufactured by Canon Bretagne in our region, Brittany. The iO2 retailing at €2150 a pair with subwoofer is made in France and so will be the new Murano hi-end compact bookshelf which will be available towards the end of the year. The Cabasse Acoustic Center hosts the R&D team, but also sales, administration, logistics and management. This is basically the headquarters, where everything happens, except some of the production. This is also where we manufacture and assemble our coaxial drivers manually.
Many loudspeaker manufacturers started exploring new segments such as headphones, docking stations or computer speakers. Will you go down the same path?
Cabasse diversified its activity with the launch of the Stream range in 2013. It was important for us to ensure that the DNA of the brand could be found in every product, whatever the shape and price. Stream 3 and its coaxial spheres allowed to fully honour this philosophy. Our range of wireless high resolution audio systems today offers multiple solutions for customers. As for headphones, never say never!
What are Cabasse's plans for the nearest future? What new products will you launch this year?
Stream AMP, the new member of the Stream range - a wireless high resolution audio amplifier, is being shipped worldwide as we speak. Later this year, our new reference bookshelf speaker Murano will be launched, following its introduction at the Munich show. You can expect further news on the Stream front in the next months!