In mid-2004, the old company went through some turbulent times. In essence, the old company split up because the old refused to give way to the new, to keep up with the times. Some people stayed on with the old company, some moved on to a new company, and the trade-mark was taken along with its rightful owner upon leaving the old company.
A new company has been set up, with no side interests, dedicated only to what we do best. New test gear was purchased, new IT gear was purchased, new premises were leased, new suppliers were enrolled.
During reorganization, we looked hard at our concepts. What we felt was good we kept, and what we felt was outdated, we changed. After all, time marches on, new technologies and products appear, and some of them could be put to good use in our case.
First, we cleaned up the design team. Older folks gave way to younger ones, with fresh ideas. But several people from the old company stayed on, both because of their proven capabilities, and because they provide a link to the product roots.
Next, we cleaned up the product line. Customer comments were looked over in detail, considered and then incorporated in our new product line. One of the comments was related to the price – we did something about it. Another was related to our model portfolio, which was criticized for being too complex and not always clear at all – we did something about that as well. And so forth.
We even examined our basic concept, but found it to be as sound as ever – if not even more so today! – and kept it. It's simple – maximum filtering with minimum phase shift. This helps preserve the original dynamics of the music, always our strong point which made us so different from our competitors.
We spent 9 months researching new production methods which would satisfy two contradicting requirements – maintain and even improve our original products, but at a lower price point. Eventually, we discovered how this could be done, and were surprised at what could be done for a price much below the one before.
To learn how this could be done, read on.
We previously used a double Faraday cage concept. This means that the electronics passing large currents were first insulated on their own, and then once again by the entire case. Consequently, all radiation and interference which must occur when large currents are used were kept to a minimum, typically much below what our competitors could ever hope for.
To achieve this, some complex and costly production methods had to be used, such as for example, custom aluminium sand casting, followed by costly and lengthy drilling and machining, followed by painting, followed by installing custom connectors. In addition to time and cost penalty, this produced a bulky product we affectionately called The Brick. Its sheer size made it impossible to use more than three per case, and this in turn defeated our own premise that the only way to go as for full electrical isolation from crosstalk after filtering.
But what if instead of shielding the entire contents of the Brick, of which most components actually do not require shielding at all, we shielded only those components which required it?
This worked well enough, and beside reducing the price, also reduced the required size. Just in case, to back it all up, we designed our printed circuit boards in the best tradition of RF design, with extremely large ground areas, for still less RF and EMI interference.
Then we worked on the printed circuit board (PCB) construction. Instead of popular and cheap materials, with simple drilled holes and in a single layer, we produced boards which use mil spec glass fiber, with fully metalized holes for vastly improved solder contact properties, and in a dual layer technology, for improved grounding areas. True, such a board costs a lot more than the old one, but this is more than compensated for by making the Brick totally redundant, simplifying construction, improving quality control, improving matching between filters and simplifying assembly.
And above all, reducing the size. This size reduction enabled us to offer not three filters in parallel as before, but all of six – the full complement! We can now implement our own philosophy to its full extent, that each output socket has its own filter, no sharing! Consequently, we now offer COMPLETE isolation after filtering between any two outputs, and for a maximum of six outputs.
We can now do so at a price previously asked for a three filter model.
Because our entire production is based on a single board format, with two filters in parallel, we can now mix and match modules as per specific requirements. For example, power requirements for a power amp will be by default much higher than those for a say source component, the difference being from anything like 10:1 all the way to 50:1 and more. Because this is so, we can use very high power components for outputs feeding power amps, but less powerful ones for components needing far less power – while still using parts from same suppliers, made to the same exacting specifications, and providing all required benefits. In other words, sacrificing NOTHING by way of quality!
Lastly, using same board format makes servicing very easy and very quick, in the most unlikely event that your unit should ever need servicing. New production techniques also improve reliability rather significantly.
Not insignificantly, these methods reduce the price very considerably, while sacrificing nothing to quality.
Never before did we compromise the quality of the components we used, and we don't do it now.
We still use the best components available on the general market, such as, for example, highest quality Wima capacitors. Over time, these have proved to be most reliable, and until we find better ones, we'll continue using these.
Our PCBs use highest quality mil spec epoxy boards, with full hole metalization. This provides for the best solder joints known to man.
The cases are made from high quality AlMg3 custom profiles and plates. All are CNC machine precision trimmed for best fit. You'll notice there are no screws to cut your fingers on – another small innovation we introduced. Where the industry at large uses four, we use six screws; where the industry at large uses simple bottom plate fixing for maximum productivity, we use vibration absorbing fixing.
We could go on, but you get the idea. No compromises in quality.
We believe in full service years after sales, even years after the original warranty has expired. It's of critical importance to us for you, our customer, to realize that you are never alone.
To that effect, we offer a 5 (five) year warranty on our filters. It's a no quibble warranty – we designed it and built it to work, no buts, no ifs, no maybes. So long as you adhere to a few simple rules, if it doesn't work, that's our problem.
If we do not have an authorized service center near you, we will undertake all servicing directly at the factory. This means that no matter where in the world you may be, so long as you can send it to us, you have no cause to worry.
As ever, life is a little more complex than an Internet site, or a piece of paper with a warranty written on it. Some things can fail, but other things simply MUST NOT fail, ever. If they do, even if your filter may be out of warranty, we will repair it free of charge – but we do reserve the right to select some failures as unallowable.
Last but not least, our servicing is based on exchange. Your filter module is exchanged and the repair unit is returned to you as quickly as possible, typically within 24 hours, and somebody will see what to do about the old one once the problems is located and investigated. Thankfully, our rate of return is so low that it cannot follow even our own expansion, so we have to use fully new modules for our own internal requirements. But we thought you'd like to know.
In the grapevine ...
We are designing a special version of our filter for automotive use. Modern cars are equipped with sophisticated computers controlling their functions, and above all, their fuel injection systems. For numerous reasons, it would be prudent to have a power line filter cleaning up their power input, and in racing and competition cars, it is a must. Because of their concept, our filters are ideally suited for the job, since they neither need nor use the ground, a big problem in all cars.
Our headphone amplifier is undergoing listening tests. It is generally ready for production, but we will not start to sell it until we have more data on its sound and until we have fully tweaked it to our stringent standards.
The same is true of our phono EQ amps. They too are being listened to by a select panel of music lovers, both professionals and amateurs. We hope to have them out on the market by early spring 2006.