Ten years of Zound - Exploring, collaborating and growing up
Back in December 2009, a little-known company called Zound Industries shipped its first products out to retailers around the world. Fast forward one smartphone, tons of headphones and several speakers, and we’re celebrating ten years of Zound products.
To honour our first decade of disruption, we’re looking back at some of our favourite products. In this second article, we press pause on our middle years.
Only being a few years old means you are not confined by heritage or tradition. Instead opportunity opens up on the horizon and you have the freedom to experiment, to stretch outside of your comfort zone and push the boundaries.
Not long after launching the first Urbanears products, imitations started popping up everywhere. Suddenly everybody wanted to cash in on the colour game. So, we copied ourselves and launched Coloud to bring high-end manufacturing to the average consumer. Kind of like what Swatch did with the wristwatch.
Promising a lot of bang for your buck, Coloud headphones came in the same rainbow range as Urbanears and had the same creative spirit, but at a lower price point and with a more youthful attitude. No gimmicks. No nonsense. Just reliable and functional headphones.
Then in 2010 we took a bigger step and signed up for our biggest brand collaboration so far – Marshall. Their amps are stalwarts of rock and roll, a familiar sight on stages around the world. We had the responsibility of taking this iconic brand, distilling it into headphones and making it relevant for a whole new audience.
We worked closely with Marshall Amplification to authentically reproduce 50 years of rock and roll. The first on-ear headphones, Major, were a distinct homage to Marshall with the trademarked brand script, the textured vinyl and unmistakable rock and roll sound. An instant hit with consumers, Major is now on its third incarnation and has become almost as iconic as the brand itself.
At the same time we were developing the first Marshall products we were working on a very different project. We noticed the market lacked a female perspective. Nobody was designing products specifically targeting women, aside from a token pair of pink headphones. So Zound created Molami. Designed by women for women, this brand took the fundamentals of fashion design and applied them to headphones.
Taking inspiration from the female form and using high quality materials more akin to fashion than electronics – leather, silk, chiffon – the first products launched in 2011 at premium retailers. Now women had a high-fashion alternative to the more masculine products lining the shelves at the time.
Up until this point, headphones had been the heart of our world, but in 2012 Marshall tasked us with a new project. They wanted us to create a limited edition speaker to celebrate their half centenary. We started the project with a question – how can we manifest the brand’s stage legacy in an interior context, without it being contrived or a “boy toy”?
In 2012 everybody was either adding Bluetooth to their speakers or making docking stations. But we didn’t want to follow the crowd so we made Hanwell, a deliberately analogue speaker. Good looking, great sounding and plugged directly into your MP3 player or phone.
The intention behind Hanwell was never commercial, but what we came up with set the standard for our home speaker range that came out a year later.
A sense of adventure remains at the heart of Zound today. We’re not like other audio companies and neither do we want to be. We’ve tried lots of things. Some have worked and some haven’t. But we’ve learnt a lot along the way.
Come back next week for the final instalment when we turn up the volume, go stereo and hang with the tech giants.