Garry Wise is the Managing Director of Kleio Audio Limited a UK start up manufacturer  whose goal is to “reinvent high-end audio”. Hifi Pig caught up with the very busy Gary to find out what makes him tick.

The K105 preamplifier and K135 integrated amplifier are the first two products from Kleio’s K1 series. Both units feature relay switching along with balanced inputs and balanced outputs. The k1 references our first range and over the years this will follow further products and product ranges.

Kleio are keen to be seen as a new and exciting UK brand with strong passion for music enjoyment, whilst manufacturing outstanding products. All Kleio products are proudly manufactured in the UK from a solid aluminium billet and come with a 5 year warranty. 
How did you get into/what was your first job in the industry?

My first and only job in the industry to date has been with Kleio.  I fell into it about 5 years after trying to decide what headphone amplifier to buy on a limited budget.  My wife made a comment along the lines of “can’t you just make one yourself” and things have just spiralled from there.  This is where the journey began. 

Who or what was the biggest influence on your career?

I would have to say music primarily as it plays such a huge part in my life.  Alongside this though was my personal passion for UK based manufacturing.

Proudest moment/product you’re most proud of?

My proudest moment to date was when I picked up the first K135 integrated amplifier prototype on an electronics test bed to use with my home system.   It was a concoction of various PCB’s, mismatched LEDS, loads of resistors soldered together to fix issues, features which didn’t work properly and speaker wires hard wired to some connecters.  It looked a mess.  However, when I first played something through it I knew that this was the start of something special.  Friends and family were keen to come round and have a listen and became fascinated with how it all worked and became intrigued as to what the finished product would eventually look like. 

What was your very first system?

I was born in the 80’s so by the time I got into music in the 90’s, midi and mini systems were still quite popular so I had some very cheap mini system back in my teens.  However, I always had a passion for hi-fi and spent a large proportion of time swotting up in magazines trying to imagine what my dream system might one day look like.  Once I started working, and had saved some money, I took the plunge and went shopping.  I seem to recall spending about 5 hours in the shop but I really enjoyed the buying experience.

Tell us about your system history

My first proper system is the same one I have today which I purchased about 10 years ago.  I try and use it every day and it is used quite a lot to test our products.  This consists of a Musical Fidelity X-80 amplifier, Inca Design Katana CD player, B&W 602 S3 speakers, Denon TU1800DAB tuner and a Rega RP1 turntable with a Rega Fono Mini phono stage and a Project Headbox SE II.

What component/product do you miss the most/wish you had never got rid of?

We moved house recently and at present the hi-fi stand has had to take on both hi-fi and AV duties.  This has meant that the Rega is currently boxed in the loft.  Once things get unpacked and settled, I cannot wait to get all of the hi-fi together again and start spinning some records.

Best system (or single component) you have ever heard (no brands you represent please…!)

I have heard many systems over the years varying vastly in prices.  Personally, one of the best systems I have ever heard was a Primare/Elac set-up at a show about 2 years ago. It was a simple integrated amplifier, DAC with a MacBook Pro as a source, used with a set of standmount speakers.

What’s your view on the valve renaissance of the past 20 years or so?

When I first started the company we were initially going to create a value amplifier but the heat issues and high power requirements were a concern.  I really like valves and would love to own some valve mono-blocks one day if I have the space.  I find it frustrating when you see them appear on mass market electronics for visual appeal as opposed to any sound quality enhancement.  Everybody has their preference when it comes to transistor or valves, and I think it is great that you can still by valves in today’s market.

What are you views on the state of the industry/where is it going/what will it look like in 5 years/what will typical systems look like?/What will happen to prices?/What will happen to the high end – will it carry on regardless?

Being a start-up we are obviously keen to see growth in the industry.  The year on year increase of attendance at shows is encouraging though.  It is difficult to predict the next five years but computer audio and streaming is here to stay so I would expect to see more products designed to support these services along with more integration with devices. With regards to prices, I don’t think these will change much.  Overall, I think the high-end market will carry on regardless as there will always be the enthusiast looking to seek out the finest equipment. 

What are the industry’s biggest con(s)?

The industry has a very low profile generally and certainly deserves more credit than it receives.  We need to attract more consumers to the industry and that means that we need to give potential new consumers something to get excited about. KLIEO

Presuming the measurements are fine, what do you listen for when assessing products?

Enjoyment!  We understand the importance of measurements but if the result of meticulous measuring is the destruction of musical joy from a product then we would question if this is something which customers would actually want to buy.

Your sound preference -‘Smooth, listenable musicality’, ‘forward, driving, ‘foot-tapping’, involving sound’ or ‘detailed neutrality and transparency’?

A foot tapping and involving sound.  

Your preference – Full-range floorstanders or freestanding mini monitors with a sub?

I have heard some amazing set-ups over the years with a small set of small monitors and a sub.  One of my favourite set-ups, as mentioned previously, was using a set of small speakers.  Floorstanders look great in a room though and would be my preferred choice.  

What is your favourite recording?

I think this changes on a weekly basis.  This week I would say the new Florence + The Machine album “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful”.  Amazing.

Tell us about your 3 most trusted test recordings

Lissie’s “Catching a Tiger” album is one of my all-time favourites and the little guitar licks in the song “When I’m Alone” can only really be appreciated on a good system.  London Grammar’s “If You Wait” album is great for testing bass response along with detail and some great atmosphere.  Finally, one of my favourite testing albums is Tegan and Sara’s “Heartthrob” album.  It oozes energy and was the first album in about 10 years whereby I asked the staff in HMV what was playing.  If the system can play the opening track “Closer” and not get itself into a mess that is the sign of a good system.

What are your most embarrassing recordings/guilty musical pleasures

Embarrassingly there are probably too many to mention here but I have to confess to being a secret McBusted fan.

Having safely ushered  your loved ones out of the house as it is burning down to the ground, you ignore all standard safety advice and dash back inside to grab just one recording – what is it?

Probably my signed copy of Foxes ‘Glorious’ album and all the original vinyl David Bowie albums given to me by my mother in law.

Thanks Garry

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