Few would be surprised by an audio brand moving its manufacturing operations to China to reduce costs. But the other way around? That doesn’t happen very often.
This is exactly what Castle has done with its new Windsor Earl and Windsor Duke loudspeakers.
Founded in 1973, Castle is one of Britain’s best-loved speaker brands but, for the past two decades, its speakers have been designed in the UK but manufactured in China. That changes with the Windsor Earl and Windsor Duke – both are manufactured in Britain as part of the company’s Made in the UK initiative.
The new Castles are built in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, at an expanded 25,000 sq ft production site. This Huntingdon facility is also where you’ll find Castle’s offices, design labs, and anechoic test chamber, meaning the speakers are designed, tested, and manufactured at the same location.
This is all made possible by Castle’s parent company, International Audio Group (IAG), which is also the steward of other classic British hi-fi brands including Mission and Wharfedale. And these have already put the Cambridgeshire production facility to the test.
2022 saw the launch of the critically acclaimed, re-engineered Mission 770 speakers, which were designed in Huntingdon and are manufactured there too. Given they won ‘Best Standmount Speaker Over £1500’ at the What Hi-Fi? Awards 2022, backed up by a Group Test win in the April 2023 issue of the magazine, we’d say the new factory has proved it’s up to the task of constructing world-class speakers.
These were followed by the Wharfedale Dovedale, a thoroughly up-to-date re-imagining of the classic Dovedale 3 speakers from 1971, announced just last month.
The new Castle Windsor speakers are the latest to benefit from the new Huntingdon facility. And this is just the beginning of IAG’s move to give British hi-fi manufacturing a shot in the arm. By the end of 2023, all Castle speakers will be made in the UK, not just the Windsor Earl and Windsor Duke.
The golden age of hi-fi
We have every right to expect big things from Castle’s new speakers, especially as they were designed in collaboration with legendary loudspeaker engineer Karl-Heinz Fink.
Fink won the Outstanding Contribution Award at last year’s What Hi-Fi? Awards, an accolade only presented to the industry’s brightest stars. Previous winners include Tetsuya Itani and the late Ken Ishiwata, who was a close friend of Fink.
Castle speakers have long been famed for the quality of their cabinets, exuding the look and feel of fine wood furniture, and the Windsor Earl and Windsor Duke are no exception. Both models are classically styled standmount speakers, hand-finished with mirrored, book-matched veneers, sealed and waxed in a process that takes several days – British craftsmanship at its finest.
But despite the classic look, Fink and Castle’s in-house team have harnessed the very latest technologies to deliver a captivating sonic performance. The drive units are constructed using high-end component parts, such as glass fibre voice coils and copper-capped pole pieces. The mid/bass cones are formed from woven polypropylene strips, bonded together to make a solid foil – a complex way of making a polypropylene cone but with significant sonic benefits. And the cabinets incorporate advanced point-to-point bracing to create the optimal acoustic environment for the drivers to work their magic.
The Duke is the larger of the two Castle Windsor speakers, featuring a 200mm mid/bass driver and delivering bass that extends to 39Hz (-6dB), while the Earl sports a 165cm mid/bass driver. Both models pair their main drivers with a 28mm microfibre-dome treble unit.
Castle suggests that the Windsor speakers evoke the golden age of hi-fi, a sentiment that fits perfectly with the return of manufacturing to the brand’s country of birth. Castle’s coming home, it could be said, and the results are wonderful to hear.
Find out more at: castle.uk.com/windsor
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