Have you ever at all times puzzled what goes on behind the scenes on the world’s largest hi-fi manufacturers? The place do they take a look at and tune their merchandise, what package do they use and what do their listening rooms appear like?
You possibly can already get a glimpse of the What Hello-Fi? take a look at rooms – simply head on over to our about us page the place we speak about how we take a look at and the reference merchandise we use to assist ship probably the most trusted AV opinions within the trade.
However what about hi-fi manufacturers? Merchandise undergo an intensive testing course of earlier than they make it over to What Hello-Fi? towers and we thought it might be good to deliver you a behind-the-scenes have a look at the place the magic occurs for various totally different producers. The take a look at rooms the place designers and engineers spend hours creating, tuning and listening to new merchandise, be it a model new pair of stereo speakers, a music streamer or stereo amplifier.
Over the approaching weeks and months, we’ll be taking you behind the scenes of various totally different hi-fi producers, and we’re kicking off the collection with one of many largest…
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The Worldwide Audio Group (IAG) owns a number of of the most important hi-fi manufacturers within the enterprise, together with Audiolab, Luxman, Mission, Quad and Wharfedale. The group has a world presence and entry to various listening rooms in several nations, however one in every of its fundamental services may be present in Huntingdon, within the UK.
Its fundamental reference system combines flagship electronics from Luxman, together with its D-10X CD/SACD participant, C-900u preamplifier and M-900u energy amplifier with a pair of Wharfedale Elysian four audio system.
Peter Comeau, IAG’s Director of Acoustic Design, explains the system: “The Luxman system is excellent for a reference electronics setup, as the ability amplifier maintains its composure into all types of loudspeaker masses and, with its accompanying preamplifier, has simply the precise mixture of tonal neutrality and musicality to tell us how audio system carry out. The CD participant has the bonus of offering wonderful SACD high-resolution playback.”
Product improvement would not solely occur within the take a look at room, although. It is is a protracted course of and quite a lot of technical evaluation goes into the elements picked to make use of in a product.
“Product improvement begins with a technical evaluation of the design and its elements utilizing a wide range of lab take a look at gear, and relating this to the design targets set by the software program instruments used to supply the primary prototype,” explains Comeau.
However measurements are just one a part of the equation and when prototypes arrive within the listening room, it’s time to load-up the take a look at tracks. “Utilizing a wide range of music, usually lots of of hours of listening exams can be undertaken, with tweaks being made, for instance, to a speaker’s crossover or a circuit format or element selection, to be able to refine the musical efficiency.
“Small modifications are made to enhance the tonality or transparency and cut back coloration or distortion, and the end result then checked towards lab measurements or frequency response evaluation in anechoic chambers, after which tweaked once more till the senior engineer is glad,” says Comeau.
Conserving it within the IAG household
In fact, one of many advantages of getting so many manufacturers below one roof and merchandise unfold throughout a variety of classes is that it permits for additional flexibility through the testing and tuning course of. To this finish, it is not simply high-end Luxman electronics that Comeau makes use of within the take a look at rooms.
“I additionally use Quad Vena II and Audiolab 6000A amplifiers and an Audiolab 6000N streamer to judge audio system, so I can hear what they sound like on gear of commensurate worth. Once more, each the Quad and Audiolab amplifiers meet the necessities of tonal neutrality and musicality whereas being extra vital of adverse loudspeaker masses.
“It’s pointless designing low and medium-cost audio system which have demanding impedance traits, and these amplifiers function a very good examine of how speaker prototypes will sound in prospects’ properties”.
Comeau additionally explains why the Wharfedale Elysian four make the minimize and likewise reveals one other pair of attention-grabbing audio system additionally play their half. “The Wharfedale floorstanders aren’t tough to drive, whereas their seamless presentation and the precision and vibrancy throughout the spectrum make them good analytical instruments for accompanying electronics.
“We additionally use Quad ESL-2812 electrostatic audio system within the Huntingdon listening room, that are so beautifully freed from any coloration or distortion that we will simply hear by to the supply.” The Quads are literally agency What Hello-Fi? favourites too, and looking out again at our 2013 evaluation, we mentioned their sense of cohesion, “makes most typical audio system sound just a bit damaged” – excessive reward certainly.
Huntingdon could be IAG’s fundamental take a look at facility however the firm doesn’t take a ‘one room tunes all’ strategy. There are further listening services used at different websites and dotted across the firm are key designers who even have their very own reference programs.
“Listening exams are carried out everywhere in the world. It’s necessary to assemble opinions that keep in mind differing tastes in several areas, and likewise take heed to merchandise in several acoustic environments, with a variety of partnering gear and all kinds of music sorts. One pair of ears ought to by no means be the only arbiter of style!”
Take Jan Ertner, a lead electronics engineer for Audiolab and Quad for example. He makes use of a pair of modified Quad ESL-63 electrostatic audio system as the point of interest of his private reference system. In response to Ertner, figuring out elements just like the again of his hand permits him to rapidly establish the impact different elements have on his system once they’re launched. It additionally explains why the corporate seems to stay to their very own merchandise with regards to reference gear. “This speaker setup is especially necessary to my work; I’ve used it for a few years and it is the ‘window’ by which I can clearly hear all the pieces I would like to listen to.”
However does IAG look additional afield to see what different manufacturers are as much as? It have to be tempting to check and benchmark purely towards merchandise from IAG’s manufacturers, however Comeau confirms that IAG does take discover of what’s taking place within the market. “We additionally take heed to merchandise that we admire from different producers – it’s necessary to remain abreast of what others are reaching, and market traits as an entire.
“That mentioned, we don’t benchmark towards different manufacturers as a matter of fastened course of; we all know the qualities which can be sought by the purchasers of every model throughout the group and our design groups develop merchandise to fulfill these explicit necessities.”
Understandably, IAG needs to maintain true to the values of its prospects whereas additionally serious about methods to enhance its subsequent era of merchandise. This comparatively insular view is little doubt a luxurious that solely such well-known and well-loved manufacturers can afford. And the strategy definitely appears to be working.
We have got extra massive manufacturers from the world of hi-fi lined as much as take us on a tour of their take a look at rooms, so keep tuned for the following entry on this collection.
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