Interview: Christophe Cabasse, global sales manager at Cabasse


Mis à jour le 21 October 2020.

The story of the brand, its goals and its partnership with AwoX: Christophe Cabasse, the son of the brand’s founder, explains everything.

SV: What is your current position in the company?

CC: My main role is Export Director, so I manage the entire export team. We now distribute to over 44 countries. I’m also involved in developing and marketing eco-products as there are products to be tested, analysed and approved. I’m also part of the listening group with a specific role that isn’t just saying what I like or don’t like: if I don’t like something I have to explain why, which can be more difficult sometimes.

SV: Can you tell us a bit about the brand’s history?

CC: The origins of the loudspeakers now called Cabasse began with my father (Georges Cabasse, editor’s note) and mother in 1950. My father was an electrical engineer. At the time there were no electronics and the term “high fidelity” didn’t exist. Sound was always in mono except at movie theaters. Incidentally, the first speakers my father made were coaxial speakers primarily used to equip the Grand Rex theater in Paris for the very first cinemascope projections in 1952, which used six discrete channels. At the beginning, the company was called la Maison du Haut-Parleur before becoming la Maison du Haut-Parleur Georges Cabasse. As clients began talking about Georges Cabasse’s loudspeakers, then simply Cabasse loudspeakers, the company’s name was shortened to Cabasse.

The Grand Rex, the first theater in France to have a cinemascope installation, contacted Cabasse to design the sound system in the early 1950s.

SV: Why is the Cabasse factory located in Plouzané, near Brest?

CC: When it comes to speakers, Cabasse originated in Paris and the surrounding region. In the music world, the name Cabasse was around long before that. I have traced the name back as far as 1730 to a commune in the Vosges called Mirecourt where there were eight generations of Cabasse. They made cellos, guitars, barrel organs, double basses and other instruments that can still be found in certain orchestras. People often tell me “I play on Cabasse!” but not the speakers. They still exist. Making speakers and making musical instruments isn’t the same thing. However, whether we make them the old-fashioned way or the modern way, the final judge is the listener. So the ability to hear, listen and analyse sound is very important. I think it played a part in the brand’s success. So the brand originated in the Paris region. When Cabasse expanded, my father wanted to move closer to the sea because his second passion was sailing. He found an opportunity in the city of Brest in Brittany. In the late 50s, the Mayor was looking for people that could develop private consumer electronics because almost all development in Brest was focused on military electronics. So the Cabasse factory was built in the middle of the fields between the Guipavas airport and the city of Brest. So we are now a little farther to the west and in a setting that inspires us in the development of our products.

SV: What benefits did Cabasse gain from its takeover by AwoX?

CC: AwoX was initially an industrial partner with whom we shared our expertise. AwoX was looking for acoustic knowledge, mainly concerning drivers. Cabasse was always interested in active speakers (our first active speakers were released in 1958) so as soon as we saw it was possible to offer hi-fi solutions that included streaming we began looking for a partner capable of providing us with the software and hardware we needed to create independent active speakers. The symbiosis was such that the best solution was for Cabasse to integrate the AwoX group. Cabasse is now in charge of everything audio related inside the AwoX group. The group therefore provides audio, lighting and connector Smart Home solutions and has also acquired the Belgian company Chacon. It can now provide every possible solution. AwoX is now number 2 in Europe concerning smart lighting with Bluetooth or WiFi.

The Cabasse Swell speaker is a perfect illustration of the symbiosis between Cabasse and AwoX. It features the acoustic characteristics inherent to Cabasse while incorporating streaming thanks to AwoX’s expertise.

SV: Can you tell us about the Cabasse The Pearl Akoya speaker?

CC: The newest addition to The Pearl range is called The Pearl Akoya. Why Akoya? The Akoya is a very small and very high-quality pearl that can only be found in Japan, so it’s a rare type of pearl. The Akoya is almost two and a half times smaller than The Pearl, but we’ve been able to incorporate the same technology. Consequently, it’s a coaxial three-way model with three amplifiers and all of Cabasse’s own management systems. At this size, there is no equivalent to the Akoya. It is important to note that this new generation of Cabasse streaming models is compatible with the previous one. Even though it has more features, the same application allows you to use a Cabasse streaming speaker from five years ago with this new model and add them both to the same ecosystem.

The Pearl Akoya speaker is the latest addition to The Pearl range.

SV: Can you present the different Cabasse speaker ranges?

CC: All of the Cabasse ranges, that’s a lot to talk about! First of all, the main thing our ranges have in common is that they almost all use coaxial technology, it’s more a question of form and adjustments. What is typical at Cabasse is that we offer acoustic solutions that have different visual styles, but the sound signature is always very consistent. I’d say that we are always striving for the same goal, which is currently our reference point speaker, the Sphère. However, with all of the speakers in our catalog, whether they’re traditional models from an esthetic point of view, such as floorstanding speakers, or whether they are satellite systems or satellite-subwoofer systems, they all benefit from the same approach. That is unique to Cabasse. And now of course with The Pearl range we provide the same technology, but perfectly incorporate all digital sources while including hi-res compatibility. We can now provide 192kHz streaming, via Qobuz or with the files on each user’s local network.

The Sphère: Cabasse’s reference point.

SV: In which countries is Cabasse present today?

CC: I’m not going to list them all, but historically we’ve always been present in Europe. After France, our main country is Germany, the largest audio market in Europe. In Europe, our products are distributed as far afield as Vladivostok, Russia being part of Europe. Outside of Europe we are present in just about every country and continent.

SV: Can you tell us about the last hi-fi system you installed?

CC: Personally, I don’t install many systems except for demonstrations at shows, on the premises of our clients, and at customers’ homes. One of my duties is to finalize the development of the Sphère systems. When we sell a Sphère system, which is a very high-end system that costs between €200,000 and €400,000 depending on the associated electronics and the offer provided by our retail partner, I, and sometimes Pierre-Yves Diquelou, go and adjust the system at the client’s home. The last system I had to calibrate was in June (2019, editor’s note.) and it was the latest generation of the Sphère system. The next one will be in England in a few weeks time.

SV: What is your fondest musical memory?

CC: That’s hard because I have many. As a drummer, it has to be my last two concerts. I did a rock concert in a venue with 5,000 spectators in Brest, but that was when I was 20 years old. When I was 23, I played in a Parisian venue for a Bossa Nova concert. That was an interesting personal experience. More recently as a spectator I can mention two other concerts in Brest, even though I’ve been to gigs in Paris, Moscow and São Paulo. So I’ve had quite a lot of experiences. A concert with Suzanne Vega where there were only 200 people, and another concert organized at l’Arena de Brest inside a huge concert hall for Verdi’s Requiem, conducted by Christophe Spinosi. That was also a great experience. So my musical taste is rather eclectic, both at concerts and when I’m at home with a pair of speakers.

SV: Can you tell us about your personal audio system?

CC: I often listen to different systems because it’s interesting to take home what I listen to here. The last speakers that I took home were The Pearls so that I could work with them and familiarize myself with them more. The permanent system that I’ve had for 15 years is an IO2 system, so small two-way coaxial spheres paired with a subwoofer that allows you to have both stereo sound and 5 channel sound in a large room with glass surfaces without taking up much space, which is something that my wife in particular appreciates.

The Cabasse IO2 system is comprised of five Cabasse IO2 speakers and a Cabasse Santorin 25 subwoofer.

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