John Franks Profile

Meet the Founder of Chord Electronics

image John Franks, Chord Electronics Founder

John Franks, Chord Electronics Founder

It was 1982. John Franks was tackling an important problem. He was working on power supplies for fighter jets. These sophisticated airplanes didn’t have a single power source. Failure of any power source could be catastrophic. Failure wasn’t an option.

Seven years later failure was more than option. Odds were stacked in failure’s corner. John Franks left his day Job to chase his passion - building high end electronics. John Franks started Chord Electronics in the United Kingdom in 1989.

John came by his love of high fidelity naturally. Many of his engineer friends during his avionics days created audio equipment. John joined them. He found his work on clean and uninterrupted power was important to creating great audio gear too.

John did not want Chord Electronics to be another amplifier company. He wanted to harness shifts in technology and how and where customers listen to music. John knew a tsunami of change was coming. 1989 was also the year the first Internet Service Providers appeared.

Prescient to begin Chord Electronics’ journey in the last moment of quiet before the web changed how we make, distribute and listen to music. In a great TED Talk, venture capitalist Bill Gross says timing is the most crucial factor in startup's success. Franks’ timing was perfect.

Maidstone Coat of Arms

Maidstone Coat of Arms

Chord Electronics Pumphous

Chord Electronics Pumphouse

Franks received help from his mom, dad and the house he grew up in. At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in 1994 John met a genius electronics engineer named Rob Watts. Meeting a fellow Englishman in the sea of people at CES may seem amazing, but not as amazing as what happened next.

Comparing notes and pasts Rob mentioned that his parents had just purchased a new home. Comparing notes further John discovered the parents of the genius electronics engineer he was speaking with purchased HIS parent’s home.

An instant friendship was followed by Rob sharing his first ideas for new kinds of Digital Analog Converters (DACs) several years later. John and Rob became collaborators testing ideas once out of reach for costs or technological reasons and Chord Electronics became one of the best R&D companies in the world. The tsunami John sensed in 1989 was happening.

Together John Franks and Rob Watts create the Chord Hugo, a portable DAC / amplifier capable of warming the hearts of audiophiles around the world. Moon Audio founder Drew Baird knows a revolution when he hears it. would be one of the first Chord Hugo sellers in America. Drew and invested further. Drew began making new USB Dragons to connect Chord Hugos to computers, phones and pads.

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