Interview with Frédéric Lebreton, Cabasse
To coincide with the launch of Cabasse in Australia via distributor Audio Visual Revolution, StereoNET caught up with Frédéric Lebreton, the International Sales and Marketing Director of Cabasse for an informal chat and to get a background on the company.
With the Australian market hotting up for lifestyle audio products and especially with European quality and flair, the time is appropriate for a revisit of the luxury brand of Cabasse. Audio Visual Revolution in Sydney made the announcement recently that they have been appointed as the exclusive Australian distributor for Cabasse. StereoNET wanted to find out a little more about this famous brand and its products, and as it happens Frédéric Lebreton the International Sales and Marketing Director of Cabasse was in Australia for the announcement. We caught up the pair and attempted to find out what makes Cabasse unique.
Thanks for your time gents. Frédéric, welcome to Australia. Could you start by giving us a historical overview of Cabasse please?
The company was founded in 1950 by Georges Cabasse. As we say “the Cabasse firm inherited not only its creator’s name, but also his genius.” From an early age, Georges Cabasse loved music and sound. You see, Georges had a special talent, a unique memory for sounds; probably a gift from his past ancestors, hailing back to a stringed instrument maker in 1740 in the Vosges Mountains.
Founded in 1950! That’s a long time for any company.
Yes, Cabasse is one of the oldest loudspeaker manufacturers in France. It has a very long history. Initially we started making speakers for cinemas. Then we started manufacturing underwater speakers for the French Navy; then for professional recording studios and of course for domestic hifi. We have always been known for our involvement in research and in our high standard of quality.
For those not so familiar with the brand, please give us a brief overview of your products.
George Cabasse had a single obsession; to perfectly reproduce the concerts he loves so much, without any alteration, colouration or distortion in the sound. In keeping with this mantra, Cabasse offers a wide range of solutions to each of our customers, whether it be a large La Sphere system or an Eole 3 5.1 system and everything in between. No matter the application, there is a Cabasse product to suit, from a high end listening room, to the home theatre or to a family pool area. It does not matter if our customer needs a floor standing speaker, an on wall, bookshelf, or ceiling speaker. Our goal is to offer our customer perfect reproduction and most importantly, the same sonic signature regardless of application or type of Cabasse speaker they choose.
You must be excited with the large variety within your speaker portfolio.
You are completely right. We make a lot more than the spherical style of speakers. Many are surprised when they take a look at our website with the large range that we offer.
Where do you manufacture?
They are made in France. We are situated in Brest in north-western France to be exact. Brest is a seaport and naval port. This is why many Cabasse product names have a nautical theme.
Can you tell us a little more about the Cabasse research and development process please?
Over the past sixty years we have conducted a lot of research and development into materials and manufacturing techniques and have vast experience in our field. In 2003 we built the Cabasse Acoustic Center, a place which brings together all the skills in research and development required to study new materials, create new membranes and speakers as well as design and implement the prototypes. We are very proud of the high tech materials and solutions that we have developed in house. At the Center, we use our own anechoic chamber to take very accurate measurements of all our designs, leading to world class products. Importantly all of the staff at Cabasse are music lovers and have a shared spirit for perfection of our products.
What musical style would be playing on your demo systems on a typical day?
A speaker model or a speaker manufacturer should not limit its abilities to a particular style or genre. Most people enjoy many different styles, sometimes depending on their mood or other reasons, or simply because they have very eclectic tastes in music. All Cabasse speakers are designed with this in mind. In fact on our demo disc you will find everything from Chamber music to Reggae to Techno and a little of everything in between.
Who are the owners and key staff members of Cabasse?
Cabasse had for several years collaborated with the Canon group on several projects, and in 2006 it was purchased by Canon (Europe) as part of their plans to expand its operations into the Audio Visual market. Cabasse was again sold to its current owners, French technology firm AwoX in 2014.
AwoX is also a key player in wireless connectivity technology under the DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) worldwide standard. It is a life member of the DLNA Board of Directors and the head of its Certification Committee. AwoX is an established global organisation, with commercial offices in the United States (Palo Alto), Europe (Montpellier) and Taiwan (Taipei) and a subsidiary office in Singapore dedicated to industrialisation, production and sourcing.
This new partnership has led to even greater technological advancements with the introduction of some exiting wireless and streaming products. It is strategic and everyone benefits.
Key personnel at Cabasse have not changed as a result of this acquisition, and are:
Jean-Louis Grégoire - President
Christophe Cabasse – Marketing Director – France
Frédéric Lebreton – International Sales & Marketing Director
Bernard Debail PhD – R&D Director (Digital Engineer of the Year 2013)
What future plans are there for the business in Australia?
Well, as you know in Australia we have appointed a new partner, Audio Visual Revolution, and we are very excited about this new partnership. Cabasse has also recently appointed a Sales manager for the APAC region so we can better serve Australia and the region in general. This year we have also opened three new international markets.
Tony, tell me about Audio Visual Revolution please.
Audio Visual Revolution Pty Ltd was established in June 2008. We are a Sydney based importer and distributor of premium Audio. Our brands include Alphason, Audiolab, Cabasse, Ekco, NuForce, Proficient Audio Systems, QED, Quad and Wharfedale. With those brands, we believe that our range of products will appeal to both ardent audiophiles and home theatre buffs, who insist on only the best for their sound and AV installations. We are represented throughout Australia via a network of dedicated sales professionals and dealer network, which offer home installations. We back up sales with a competent and well stocked service department, to offer total peace of mind.
Frédéric, What makes Cabasse different to your competitors?
Our unique approach to coaxial loudspeaker design is quite different from many loudspeakers on the market. We are known for our ‘donut’ shaped midrange driver surrounding the soft dome tweeter, instead of the conventional dome and cone arrangement. Cabasse believes that this is a much better solution. It doesn’t suffer from the long horn loaded problems normally associated with the tweeter positioned at the centre of the midrange cone. The result is a much more natural sound. We stick closely to our founder Georges Cabasse’s obsession, to perfectly reproduce the concerts he loved, without any alteration, colouration or distortion in the sound.
What do you see as your competitive edge?
What gives us an edge is our realisation and the resulting products that offer a link between our customers and the way they want to listen to and play all of the music they love listening to. We want our customers to enjoy music in every possible room or application from every possible media. We give them what they want.
Is there any other interesting news for our readers?
We are always looking ahead and you will see that Cabasse are mixing our traditional products with new technologies. We have just introduced our latest product, the Stream Amp (StereoNET review coming soon), which is a small smart Amplifier with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. It also has a special feature called DEAP which allows for the optimisation of the performance of a Cabasse speaker connected to it.
We are also very proud of our Stream 1. This streaming product is portable and can be controlled with a smartphone or tablet application available for both Apple and Android. Naturally we have our Cabasse 3-way coaxial driver technology built in to deliver 360 degree sound.
Also, we consider Australia to be an important market. We will continue to work hard to find solutions that people can enjoy.
If you could give one message of advice, what would it be?
Let your ears be the judge!
Thank you for your time, we've really enjoyed chatting to you both.
Incidentally, Frédéric has a lovely French accent and like any Frenchman has a real love of music and wine. He certainly has a passion for Cabasse and especially the new product range. For anyone searching for quality European audio, take a look at the Cabasse website or find a local shop for a test drive.
Starting his first audio consultancy business in the early ’80s whilst also working professionally in the electronics industry, Mark now splits his time between professional reviewing and AV consultancy.