Matthew James
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Looking back at the more than 25 years that there has been a Cello, the endeavor has always had the same motto,

"The justification for a great music system is the same as for a great instrument: It makes possible a musical experience that cannot be duplicated by lesser means"



Looking back at the more than 25 years that there has been a Cello, the endeavor has always had the same motto -

“The justification for a great music system is the same as for a great instrument: It makes possible a musical experience that cannot be duplicated by lesser means”.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, Italian master instrument makers developed and virtually perfected what we regard today as the modern string instruments. The name, Cello, embodies the spirit and concept of the products from Matthew James’ Showroom. In the tradition of these instrument makers old problems in audio have been identified and solved with a fresh approach that redifines the possibilities of reproducing music in the home. We are dedicated to furthering the art of music reproduction by designing equipment of only the very highest quality and building them in limited quantities by hand.

Although we are developing and utilizing new technology, we are really continuing a very old, traditional approach used by artisans for hundreds of years. Cello products are built by people committed to exploring the furthest limits in performance and quality. Each Cello product is a blend of proven principles from the past and new technological understandings. Something new is added only if it proves meaningful in performance.

Instead of being founded by an electrical wizard, Cello was founded by a musician. Technical contributions came from a wide range of sources, and although the technical accomplishments were extraordinary, it was the concept of trying to reach absolute levels of audio performance along with consistency of performance, both of which were so crucial to the musician, which raised the bar for all those who considered themselves part of high end audio.

The technical wizard could put up with a few buzzes and beeps and glitches, but a musician (or an audiophile) needed excellent performance all the time, every time. Cello represents the end of a rare and valuable breed: namely those highly skilled craftsmen who stress perfectionist like quality over mere commercial concerns, a last fortress against pervasive encroaching waves of mass produced mediocrity.

In January 1985, the first Cello product, the Audio Palette was introduced, produced in New Haven Connecticut by the company Cello, Ltd. Based upon the advanced equalization concepts of Richard Burwen, the product offered Cello, Ltd. a unique opportunity. It was conceptually quite different from any other product of the time, after all it was a high end equalizer, a concept considered an oxymoron (however unfair a judgment that might have been). Because of this uniqueness, and because it was so stunning with regard to performance, the Audio Palette was a commercial success and the Cello brand was quickly established as one of the companies that would lead high end audio into the future.

The Summer of 1985 brought the introduction of the Audio Suite, a modular preamp (that could be configured according to the particular requirements of its owner).

The basic premise behind Matthew James’ Showroom is to continue the Cello brand’s sonic tradition started with the Audio Palette, Audio Suite, and the Performance Amplifier. The musician/professional connection continues and many recording studios and engineers still use and acknowledge the sonic excellences of the Cello products in their work.

Back in 2000, we simply intended to improve upon existing Audio Suite modules. However, certain physical limitations of the Suite, and its architecture, prevented us from incorporating all that we were discovering about preamplifier circuitry. And we discovered that by creating a new geography, we could incorporate advanced versions of the Suite and Palette circuitry in an environment which takes advantage of the strengths of that circuitry.

The Cello Chorale and Master, introduced in 2006, are the most recent versions of design concepts (hand soldered rotary switches for source and monitoring selection, individual stepped level controls for each channel instead of the more common balance control, switchable gain in the line stage, gain and impedance settings in the phono section, hard wiring between boards and switches with silver, and an outboard power supply) that actually extend back to the early 1970s.

Our development continues currently with the introduction in 2010 of a new version of the Encore amplifier. Back in 1986, Cello introduced the Performance Amplifier which was designed to provide the most natural sound and widest dynamic range from recordings. The original Encore Amplifier, introduced in 1988, offered surprisingly similar sonic qualities to music listeners who did not require the higher power capabilities of the Performance Amp. There is a famous story, about the first time Mark Levinson heard the original Encore. So surprised by the sonic similarity between the Encore and his reference Performance Amps, Mark actually checked the system’s cabling to make certain that the Performance Amps weren’t connected.

The Cello Encore amplifier from Matthew James’ Showroom incorporates a number of engineering advances which allow high performance in a compact and efficient design, providing a practical and appealing product for inclusion in music systems of the highest quality. The Cello Encore amplifier is the first amplifier to really sound like a Performance Amplifier because it uses the driver board from the Performance, updated to modern parts and assembled using traditional techniques.

To reproduce music faithfully and exquisitely requires nothing less than the very best audio equipment.

Historical Chronology of Cello Product Introductions

January 1985        Audio Palette and Master Supply
March 1985           Cello Strings I Interconnect Cable
July 1985                Audio Suite Modular Preamplifier
June 1986              Performance Amplifier and Amati Speaker
June 1987               Etude Passive Preamplifier
July 1988                 Encore Preamplifier
October 1990          Palette Preamplifier
May 1991                 Cello Strings II and III Speaker Cables
September 1991    Duet 350 Amplifier and Strad Grand Master Speaker
October 1991          Encore 50 Amplifier
November 1991     Strad Master Speaker
April 1992                 Strad Premiere Speaker
April 1993                 Encore Line Preamplifier
August 1994            Strad Legend Speaker
September 1994    Serafin Active Speaker
December 1995     Encore 150 Amplifier
July 1997                 Elves Speakers
January 2003          Rhapsody Amplifier
January 2006         Chorale Preamplifier and Master Power Supply
March 2010             Encore Amplifier