Crookwood – the oldest name in the audio business?
A brief history of Crookwood
We’re audio veterans now – we started Crookwood in June 1992, and our first product, the Paintpot Pre-amp was released in May 1993. Over this time, we’ve quietly worked with some of the best engineers on the planet, and through them some incredible musicians (see here for a partial list).
The name “Crookwood” comes from the name of farm in southern England where Crispin our designer, grew up. The farm is very old, and is mentioned in the Doomsday book of 1068AD. King John (1100AD) used to go hunting deer in the actual Crookwood, so named because it resembled the shape of a shepherd’s crook. This probably makes Crookwood the oldest name in the audio business!
Why we’re here
Simply, Crookwood was founded to make recordings sound better. Along the way we found out a way to reduce the time taken to make them too.
Crispin, our designer has been inventing with audio since his school days, initially making guitar amps, then Hi-Fi. After getting a BSc in Physics, he went on to work for Hi-Fi pioneers, Meridian, and then jumped ship to SSL. He was with SSL for 5 incredible years, when they were at the peak of their power, and the world was their oyster. Crispin got to work on 4K’s, 5K’s (film and broadcast), and digi stuff. Finally before he co-founded Crookwood, he got to work for Focusrite, designing the last big format console, the Focusrite Studio Console.
Through this audio journey, he discovered how music recordings really work, and saw that if you want to make great recordings, you need some electronic parts of the chain to be really neutral sounding, while other parts can be coloured to shape your music. Specifically, preamps, converters, routers and monitor controllers need to be neutral, otherwise they alter the sound of your recording, completely out of your control. This way of thinking although common today, was unique in the early 90’s, and Crookwood was started to change all this. We think we’ve succeeded.
What we do
Firstly we perfected our circuitry, carefully juggling each part and their layout until we achieved really neutral sounding circuits. A testament to our design is that the 25 year old Paintpot preamp is still regarded as one of the best preamps on the planet.
After this, we pioneered the approach of modular electronics to make a product. Rather than re-inventing every power supply and circuit every time you make a product, we designed completely optimised modules – a monitor card, a routing card, a converter card etc. Now to make any product, we just link together these already optimised modules, and you know it will sound great.
To make this work, all of the modules needed to be digitally remote controlled, using relays instead of front panel switches or knobs. The remote control allowed us to automate switches, speeding up the entire process and allowing the user extra creativity over choices. For example, our insert routers can automate the equivalent of 4 patch cords with one button.
The net result is that we’re the world leaders in fast, sonically excellent mastering consoles, routers, monitor controllers, converters, and of course preamps.
Where we do it
Crookwood is based in the UK, in a sleepy village near the Neolithic monuments of Avebury and Stonehenge. We’ve kept things small to be responsive to our customers and honest to our beliefs, but have customers in nearly every county in the world. Not bad for a little company!