A good audio dealer is hard to find. A good new audio dealer is almost impossible to find. But Criterion Audio, based in a village just outside of Cambridge, UK, is just that. Having opened in the last couple of years, the company has already gained a reputation for a friendly and professional atmosphere, a well-stocked portfolio of brands across almost all audio sectors, expert demonstrations and installation services, and a willingness to think beyond normal audio dealer confines. Most of all, however, a dealer is only as good as the people who work there, and Criterion has chosen wisely: their staff are not simply salespeople, but also keen enthusiasts and music lovers. We spoke with Criterion Director Mike Cunningham, Senior Sales Consultant Bill Darby, and Sales Consultant James Williams about how they got to where they are.
What brands/products do you stock?
MC Linn, Naim, Cyrus, PMC, Clearaudio, Moon, Devialet, Pro‑ac, KEF, Focal, QUAD, Spendor, YG, Boulder, Raidho, Vitus Audio, ATC, Sonus Faber, Stillpoints, Chord, The Chord Co, TQ, Nordost, Grace Designs, Audeze, Abyss, Sennheiser, Grado, Beyer, Burson Audio, Graham Slee, and Isotek.
What inspired you to get into the industry?
BD I have been interested in hi-fi and the quest for better sound since I was at school back in the early 1980’s. The Linn LP12 was something I aspired to and not long after school, I got a job working in a local hi-fi shop and then a year later I worked for a higher end showroom who were Linn and Naim dealers.
MC A fascination with electronics and ‘how stuff works’ combined with an enjoyment of music and dealing with (most) members of the public.
JW A passion for sound, and my father’s influence.
What music do you listen to when doing a demo?
BD Mostly rock, pop, and Jazz from the 1960’s onwards. I’m not a classical music listener myself.
MC My personal taste is rock/electronic biased, but I’m open to listening to anything good. I have a selection of go-to tracks, but it’s the customer’s preference.
JW Whatever the customer likes, but personally, Heavy Metal, Electronic, anything congested/challenging.