Recently I was invited to Munich Germany so that I could meet my friend Michael who owns Klang Loft Munchin, a distributor and dealer for brands such as Aries Cerat, Rogers, and Cube Audio. The trip also coincided with High End Munich, the largest hifi show in the world (please see my blog post on the show). Michael organized some private evening events at his Klang Loft Studio and I was honoured to be invited. During the evening gatherings, I was able to sit and chat with Stavros, the owner and creator of the Aries Cerat brand from Cyprus. We were joined by Cube Audio’s owners, along with Dietmar (compression driver designer extraordinaire) along with Christoph (Elysio Horn Tweeters).
This would be my first time visiting Europe and so this was an exciting opportunity for me in terms of finally getting to meet various people I’ve been in correspondence with since starting my business three years ago.
Chatting with Stavros (Ares Serat)
Stavros who is from Cyprus has been in business for twelve years. He has accomplished more than most have accomplished in a lifetime by a factor of four!
His Aries Cerat brand is nothing short of jaw dropping. Pictures don’t do his products justice. They are simply massive and beautifully engineered and executed. While sitting with Stavros at Michael’s Klang Loft Studio, we discussed various objective test methods for loudspeaker design development.
Stavros started out as a speaker manufacturer but quickly realized that the upstream equipment was limiting his ability to develop his speaker’s sound quality further. He set out to develop a laboratory test amplifier for the company's internal use to aid in speaker development. Subsequently, the amplifier was used for an audio show but due to customer inquiries based on the listening impressions from those attending the show, demand was created for amplifiers as well. The amplifier ended up becoming a product and soon others followed.
Live Video of Aries Cerat System Click Here.
In terms of product development, Stavros describes a ladder affect, where once the upstream components reach a certain quality level, the speakers can then be developed further for more clarity and resolution, which then requires the upstream components to be improved again, which continues on and on. He mentions how careful system design can actually cancel out the distortion between various components. It’s often assumed that once non-linear distortion is added by particular components in a system, it can never be removed. However this is not necessarily the case! A device's unique non-linear function can be complimented with another downstream device's nonlinear function to remove non-linear distortion from the signal chain, assuming that the devices are in polar opposite phase. This works in either case between an amplifier and speaker, or between adjacent electronics. Beyond this I feel I should not share any further, but this provides some insight into the inner mind of Stavros. It was an exciting conversation for me since I’ve been researching the topic of non-linear distortion for two years. I’ve studied every white paper and publication on the subject as well as conducting dozens of unique tests myself. So my excitement when speaking with Stavros was hard to contain.
Lars Risbo (Purifi)
Lars invited me to sit and chat with him. He described the need for a finished DIY plan for their upcoming 8” woofer. More on this at a future date.
Lars discussed the need for the plans to provide enough detail to ensure that no mistakes could be made during the cabinet and crossover build that would adversely affect the 8” purifi’s performance. With distortion approaching -90dB, the new woofer is almost at the threshold of their own measurement system. Even a simple solder mistake in the crossover could introduce measurable distortion. Lars provided me with some guidance on how to test and evaluate for these types of distortions. So stay tuned on more of that to come at a future date.
My overall discussion with Lars was fascinating. I really appreciate how Purifi as a company is very transparent regarding their test methods and research. This needs to happen more with other manufacturers.
Mark is the International Sales and Marketing Manager at SB Acoustics. I met with Mark over lunch at Hi End Munich to discuss potential future projects. Mark updated me on some exciting audiophile specific pro drivers that are in the works. I like Mark’s approach to new products. He seems to reflect strongly on what he prefers in a subjective sense when creating new drivers for the SB product line, which is what really matters isn’t it? This is certainly evidenced by the most recent last two products I’ve tested. SB seems to be hitting the nail on the head when it comes to subjective sound quality, as well as objective!
Michael Kromschröder Klang Loft
Over the course of the four days, I got to know Michael more during my visit to Germany. I met Michael’s family and he was a gracious host, even during a very busy weekend hosting three rooms at High End Munich (all with a broken toe!).
All I can say is that I was thoroughly impressed by Michael’s disposition to put people first. He is a sincere, warm, welcoming individual that simply loves people. To highlight this, I found out by chatting with one of his employees that they’ve been with the company for almost two decades and they started when they were 17 years old, how amazing is that? Also, I spoke to some customers at the evening gathering that described their frustration with other boutique audio shops turning them away because of of their young age, and how Michael was more than happy to accommodate them at Klang Loft to audition any product they wanted. They've since been long time customers for Michael. Klang Loft Studio is a must visit spot if you are ever in Germany!
There was a lot to take in during the trip. I joked that it would take me two weeks following the trip to process in my mind what I had heard and learned. Between discussions and listening to some of the best sound I've heard, I came away both perplexed and affirmed in my mind. For me, and my own business, I realized the need for an improved listening space where I can properly audition and evaluate my designs. My listening room has been taken over by woodworking! Additionally, I found that the Aries Cerat amplifier, preamplifier, and DAC had a level of transparency way beyond what I thought was possible. It moved me to realize that I need to improve my upstream components to fully align with my loudspeaker development. On the affirming side, this is one of character and personality. When it really comes down to it, success requires a certain level of humility. Nobody that is truly successful, in a technical achievement sense, gets there with arrogance. Arrogance is a marketing tactic to convince less knowledgeable people that you have somehow achieved something. The reality is, in the upper echelons of audio, there is still learning, discussing, making mistakes, and generally wrestling with the art of sound. Even the best and most brightest minds in the industry will sometimes simply throw their hands up in the air and admit defeat that they don't fully understand certain things. Why does something behave or sound a certain way? There is still an allusivity to sound reproduction and music which is why it draws a inquisitive mind, and there is always more left to discover. Discovery stops when you become complacent in your own assumptions and forget that correlation does not prove causation! Plus, nobody likes a know-it-all!