BEAUTY IS BEYOND THE OBVIOUS
Human vision, hearing and other senses are not absolute measurement devices. They compare the difference between a reference and the tracked signals, and it changes over time.
The hearing system registers sounds and requires some time to assess what they are. It then starts to track the changes giving less importance (losing interest) to long and sustained signals with no change.
It adapts to the surrounding (residual) background and concentrates on the constant changes in signal properties. Motion or flashing lights attract your vision in this exact same way. This phenomenon allows you to follow a conversation between two people in a noisy environment or listen to the voice of a singer undisturbed by a busy musical piece. It is so natural to us that in your office you realize how noisy it is only when the noise stops.
If the background is quiet the following sound appears louder and clearer. Anything different from the pitch-black background attracts your attention. Or if your hearing has adapted to a residual noise you start losing information (your brain does not pay attention to it). To make an analogy it is like increasing the contrast in a picture by darkening the background instead of increasing the brightness. The bright light will blind you and you will not see better, but removing the strenuous light makes your reference (black) stable and the picture becomes more vivid and sharp. It's like watching a movie in the cinema with the ambient lights on or off. Let us put this in the context we are interested in. Music is written with notes and pauses that represent sounds and SILENCE. The quality and quantity of silence in between notes is just as important as the pitch and timbre in the notes themselves.
It is rather complex why we have all those artifacts in our precious music through the reproduction chain but it is immediately apparent when they are reduced, and simply amazing when they are almost gone. Serenity and expressiveness come to mind when you experience it. It just sounds right.
LEARNING FROM LEGACY
The works of Japanese tube gurus are a source of inspiration for us. Shishido San's designs with transmission triodes manifested trough Wavac Audio and Kondo San's creations at Audio Note Japan are the best examples of the Japanese vacuum tube art currently in production and the different approaches taken to achieve the same goal. Their attention to detail and manufacturing quality inspired us to try and do better.
The works and concepts of another Japanese designer came closest to the direction in which we were heading.
Never implemented commercially, however, the designs of Sakuma San are a tough example to follow.
Directly heated triodes with inductive loads seemed to deliver the effortlessness and tonal richness we are after.
Later we would realize that the root of it all was Western Electric and their creations. Their amplifiers and speakers are something like Adam and Eve for high-end audio.
Through those simple designs, music flowed seamlessly but with some shortcomings.
Many tried to improve on those through the years, getting rid of most problems by unnecessary complication. The goal for improved music reproduction mutated into engineering competition in achieving meaningless target figures in areas alien to music and it's reproduction. It is a bit like judging the sound of a piano by its colour or weight.
It is just irrelevant.
Modern thinking and parts applied by Nelson Pass brought simplicity and musicality to solid state based amplifiers showing a different direction for development.
Looking at quality goods, wines and watches we see how the same techniques used years ago are still in use today. Yet the well made modern products are incomparably better.
We try to use as much as possible of the knowledge accumulated in the field and blend it with our own experience and cutting edge high-tech available today, so that we may succeed where other attempts have failed. There are superb designs out there by many reputable companies that reproduce sound on a similar level but few if any reproduce silence as well as we do.
WHERE KNOW-HOW, MEETS DO
Many years of exploration in the world of high quality audio passed before we realized we can't buy the product that satisfied all our needs. The need to develop our own audio components emerged by blending the best properties of what we have heard. We gained experience from all the available technologies and amplification circuits making headlines through the years and gradually filtered them down to a list of worthy contenders.
Some products incorporated true innovation but these innovations were usually only a partial cure making the product no better than the average. Ingenious approaches coupled with off-the-shelf peripherals and average manufacturing quality was the norm, as well as a lack of understanding of the entire system as a whole.
We listened - we researched - and this resulted in an unexpectedly long and strenuous R&D project in our own lab evaluating amplification topologies and circuits and the interaction with other components.
Numerous prototypes were built, studied, and some destroyed until a pattern and a theory emerged.
This was followed by hands-on research and tests on the influence of various components and their sonic qualities, involving thousands of man-hours of measurements, auditioning and comparisons.
We spent a considerable amount of time on the mechanical construction of our products concentrating on vibration control, electromagnetic and electrostatic shielding. We have not discovered a loophole in the laws of physics. What we found is that people quickly forget the achievements of past times, just to "discover" them again at a much later date. It is all there, you just have to put it together. We look for the simplest meaningful legacy solutions, find their flaws and fix them if we can. It does not matter how much better a modern solution is if it is based on flawed assumptions and only glosses over past errors.
True to our beliefs we decided to use the works and experience of the very best and implemented their knowledge in our product. It took a lot of time and many tests to determine where the truth lies.
Taking advantage of available 21st century technologies and materials allowed us to achieve what early designers called fiction. We could write pages upon pages as to why each component in our products is there, and why it was chosen.
Actually, there is no trick, no magic. It is a complex function of knowledge, attention to detail, common sense and an open mind that gets you there.
I hope what we came up with pleases your senses and sets you on a quest to seek those qualities in all products.