At 16, HW Audio founder Lewie Winters was, like many of us are at that age, in a band, but fostering his passion for music into his professional life as well as personal, started working for a company who mass-manufactured hearing protection products. As a drummer and session musician himself, and wearing ear plugs under his cans on-stage, he quickly saw the potential in custom hearing protection for musicians and artists who needed not just to take care of their hearing but also to better hear themselves and other audio in situations where the quality isn’t always tip top.
The product the company he worked for sold was a set of simple single driver in ear monitors; suited well to security staff and motorcyclists. Using some of his personal contacts within the music industry to help and breach the gap between the two, a touring band trialled the IEMs on-stage but soon found that they simply weren’t the ideal match for musicians. Lewie fed this back to his boss but the business just wasn’t all that interested in broadening their horizons – fair enough, as they had their own focus.
Spurred on to produce something better than anything he could find available, for both himself and for his fellow performers, Lewie began getting creative at home. Melting materials on his kitchen hob, he began shaping custom IEMs and set up meetings with suppliers of balanced armature drivers. Within 6 months, he’d made his first triple driver in ear monitor with a 3-way crossover… but sadly the business he worked for weren’t interested in taking it on and instead made him redundant.
Never one to give up in something he believed in, instead Lewie went it alone and spent the next six years developing products, seeking out best practice, meeting new contacts and looking for funding opportunities. His passion caught on and people overhearing him talk about his plans at a New Years party immediately offered to chip in and help. HW Audio could now officially take off!
Of course, no plan ever works out as planned. Despite always having been careful with his hearing, it was quickly revealed that Lewie’s use of sub-standard ear plugs had resulted in substantial hearing loss and tinnitus… of course, exactly the opposite of what you need when you’re developing audio products. Instead of being deterred, instead the hunt was on to track down the UK’s best sound engineers and have them test HW’s products and make suggestions for improvements and tweaks to help development and innovation.
Now, HW Audio works with some of the best sound engineers in the country and with a huge variety of musicians to test all of their in-ear monitors. No product is released without their full approval so HW can truly say that all of their products are made for musicians, by musicians.