Vincent Viard is the founder of Viard Audio, an iconic modern French high fidelity brand known and recognized for offering high-end, neutral and high quality cables. He agreed to answer our questions so we could learn more about his eponymous brand and the characteristics of Viard Audio cables.
What is your background and your role at Viard Audio?
I founded the Viard Audio brand in 2010 not far from Versailles. I’ve always been surrounded by the arts, with my father being a decorator and my mother a painter, who gave me this artistic sensitivity from a very young age. That said, I have always had a more engineering side, with a strong interest in electronics since I was 6 years old. I was born with a soldering iron in my hand and this passion for electronics led me to the origins of Viard Audio.
Can you tell us about the origins of Viard Audio?
The idea of Viard Audio came to me rather late. In the beginning I created amplifiers and hi-fi systems for my own use and that of my audiophile friends. I used to optimize speakers by changing the internal wiring or crossover system to improve performance and accuracy. Some of my optimizations were noticed and praised by specialized magazines. I then decided to set up my own company. This is how Viard Audio was created. At the time, I only optimized hi-fi systems and hadn’t started designing cables yet.
Cable design came later, when hi-fi dealers could not sell my equipment because they already had too much gear to offer. But many of them pointed out that they only needed one thing: a reliable cable that could be connected and reconnected thousands of times without ever failing. So the challenge was to design a high-quality cable that was flexible and easy to use. That’s how I released the first prototype of the Viard Audio Silver HD 20 XLR cable, a model with a flexible white silicone sheath that is still part of the brand’s visual identity today. It was sold out the day after it was released in stores thanks to its innovative design, aesthetic and impressive performance. I quickly asked to create a full range of XLR and RCA cables to meet the needs of audiophiles.
What does it mean to make your products in France?
Making sure that our cables are manufactured in France has always been a priority for me, right from the start. Today, I am proud to offer cables that are entirely designed and assembled by hand in France, and this from the entry level. For users, it is a real pleasure to have a French brand, and not only out of patriotism. We offer a real service, listening to consumers to answer their questions and meet their needs. We frequently receive questions about how to connect a Viard Audio cable, which way to connect it, or how to strip it. Having a local brand allows us to answer them instantly, without time difference or language barrier. Being a local craftsman capable of providing advice. That’s what “Made in France” is all about!
What are the characteristics of Viard Audio cables?
Since the first Silver HD 20 XLR model, the particularity of Viard Audio cables has always been the flexibility provided by silicone. Very recognizable by its white color, it is part of the visual identity of the brand and stands out from the omnipresent black sheath of the other cables. This silicone sheath is accompanied by an aluminum ring to dampen vibrations and reinforce the high-quality character of the cables. Ten years ago, we were the first to put such a ring on a cable to offer an object whose luxurious look and refinement was at the same level as that of the connected devices.
Viard Audio cables also have the characteristic of being very neutral. This is a deliberate choice that I wanted to implement from the first model. A lot of acoustic work has been done with a large panel of speakers in order to offer a cable without any esoteric materials to avoid modifying the sound signature of a system. We owe this characteristic to our Cu-VHQ copper which benefits from a specific thermal profile to bring a greater flexibility. This results in a neutral cable that works equally well with McIntosh equipment, Accuphase equipment, or any other pair of speakers or electronics. This is why our cables are often used by hi-fi dealers who can play different speakers or systems without having to change the cable between each device.
A lot of work has been done to offer a neutral cable that won’t modify the sound signature of a system.
Who are Viard cables for and what benefits do they bring to the listener?
Viard Audio cables are aimed at people who have a deep and extensive knowledge of hi-fi. They already have a solid background, with a high-quality amplifier and speakers. They have progressed in hi-fi, and their level goes as far as refining the smallest details by adding a high-quality cable, matching the quality of the rest of the system. Viard Audio cables answer a personal expectation to have a reliable investment that can be used forever. We don’t offer trendy products, but durable cables with which you can be sure to make the right choice. Viard Audio cables are also for people who are interested in locally made products. They may have a B&W, McIntosh, etc. system, but Viard cables allow them to have at least one French element.
Your cables are praised by the press from all over the world, how do you explain this success?
There was an immediate reaction to the first cable we produced, the Viard Audio Silver HD 20 XLR. The success was unanimous and exactly the same in Japan and Hong Kong as it was in France. This is notably due to the innovation brought by the silicone, which allows us to take advantage of a really flexible cable that is a pleasure to install. This really recognizable aesthetic has attracted people who do not necessarily share the same tastes, especially abroad where it represents French luxury, something that is not found in any other cable. In France, this success can be attributed to the sound quality of the cable with countless comparisons made by specialists. Today, Viard Audio cables are still favored by many audiophiles because I have traveled and studied the demands of enthusiasts to fulfill them. This led to the Platinum range for foreign countries.
Today, Viard Audio is distributed throughout Asia, including Thailand, South Korea and Hong Kong. We also export to Europe, but not to Germany, because the demand is too strong there. Being a rather confidential brand, we do not want to produce too much in order to maintain our artisanal traditions. Too much demand would force us to change our distributors and industrialize the design of the cables. This is not the philosophy of the brand. We prefer to limit ourselves in order to preserve our knowledge and the quality of our cables.
Which cable are you most proud of?
The cable I am most proud of is without a doubt the first one, the Viard Audio Silver HD 20 XLR. This is the cable that defined the whole spirit of Viard Audio, with its soft white sheath, luxurious design and neutrality. It is also one of the most technical cables. More than 10 years later, it remains as successful as ever.
How was 2020 and what challenges did you face?
2020 was a difficult year in the sense that a lot of people stayed home and we had to cope with a high demand. Despite the closure of stores and trade shows, we were very reactive during the period and stayed in touch with the public thanks to the Internet.
The lockdowns during 2020 were also an opportunity to refocus on more personal projects. I have been working for 2-3 years on the development of a studio monitoring speaker system to test the cables in a more advanced way and go further in the development of the next models. However, it is a project that requires a lot of time and I never had enough time to do it. Cancelled trade shows, meetings and business trips has finally allowed me to devote more time to this project.
Will new Viard Audio cables be released this year?
I have been planning for a while to design an Ethernet and USB cable with grounding. The goal is to remove all the pollution generated by computer power supplies, which generate a lot of interference. These are cables that are really aimed at very knowledgeable audiophiles, but for which we have had several requests. In addition, we have also just released an extensive range of Ethernet cables.
I have been planning to design an Ethernet and USB cable with grounding.
What challenges do you face in designing future cable models?
The biggest challenge in designing Ethernet and USB cables with grounding is to achieve a significant improvement in the listening experience and to optimize the signal-to-noise ratio. That’s why I’m working on a new monitoring system to make very advanced measurements and demonstrations. We have to come up with a cable that will be as impressive as the others and that won’t disappoint me. Launching a new model is complicated. The challenge is technical and we have to satisfy a real demand.
What is your fondest musical memory?
I listen to a lot of music, but I didn’t have any big “wow” moments or discoveries. I do have one memory that made me passionate about sound and especially about music reproduction. At the time, my father often listened to the Jazz à Fip program on FIP when it was one of the very few jazz radio stations. There was a recurring theme that played on this program and when I listened to it on my father’s big speakers, it fascinated me.