Leonid Burcev, Chief Designer
I always cared about the problem of sound reproduction quality. Why do a lot of people coming from a concert hall regretfully note that their home audio sounds not nearly so natural and doesn’t excite the same feelings and emotions the live concert sound just did? Why does their home audio system disappoint rather than satisfy — no matter how much effort and money was put into it?
And what can be done about in nowadays when science has reached some unprecedented heights and new materials and technologies unimagined by inventors, say, magnetic recording process are readily available? Maybe we should use a totally different approach to the problem of sound quality? Besides is there a proper way to evaluate which system sounds the best — or the worst?
The idea of changing the way audio device is designed by using an integrated technique to evaluate the audio tract in general hasn’t come to me as a surprise. A goal had been set to approach a live musical event as close as possible. To attain this goal one had to use the whole arsenal of techniques and accumulated information to record this event without any loss.
During my lifelong work on designing equipment for recording and reproduction of sound I found out that engineers and manufacturers are concerned with perfecting only a specific part of an audio system.
Hence the first conclusion: audio signal flow has to be perfected as a whole — from a microphone in a concert hall or in a recording studio to a speaker system in the music lover’s quarters. In other words one has to use an uncompromising approach to professional as well as home audio.
Another important factor concerns the reliability of sound evaluation techniques. Objective evaluation methods used nowadays and based on measurements of a frequency response, distortions etc. don’t give a precise answer to the question of ‘which system sounds better’. This fact became all the more obvious with the appearance and development of digital sound. It’s no secret that a device with impeccable technical specs may sound terrible.
But who can properly estimate the level of precision with which an audio system reproduces live music? This person is evidently the one who creates music on an everyday basis — a musician. Or in my opinion the person best suitable for this task is an orchestra conductor, whose estimation of sound quality is the most objective one.
Turning for advice to conductors and to maestro Valery Gergiev in particular we managed to work out a new concept for the sound quality evaluation (for a detailed account of it see ‘Technologies’ page).
Our cooperation with Mariinsky Theatre in Saint-Petersburg recently allowed us to bring together engineers and musicians uniting those who can evaluate sound quality in the most precise and objective way and in the long run estimate the way the sound system works. These estimations form the basis for choosing engineering solutions to be implemented into our products.
We repeatedly compared the sound of our products with that of other systems and components. And I may proudly say that in the majority of blind tests our products were superior. I hope you’ll like them too.
Our motto is: “We believe we’re making the best”.
After a fairly long pilot phase of the Mariinsky Theatre, where I developed and perfected our own method, it's time to go to other sites around the world. Since October 2016 we conduct close cooperation with the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, and in January 2017 we concluded an agreement with the chief conductor and artistic director of the Milan Auditorium for the application of both: methodology and our professional equipment in Italy. I consider it our greatest achievement cause a conductor’s opinion for balancing and tuning the equipment is of paramount importance. Furthermore, for maximum effect boft foe recording and reproduction, one can change the settings to create the product, for example, to change the seating arrangement of musicians in the orchestra for maximum effect during playback.
Photo: Chief Designer Leonid Burcev while the equipment testing on the Bolshoi Theater Stage.
Photo: the Jader Bisgamini Concert in the Milan Auditorium.
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If you have any conceptual questions about how to build an audio system or about any particular WagnerAudioLab’s engineering solution you may ask them and I’ll be glad to answer.
The magnificent Anna Netrebko is my Muse.
Anna Netrebko, Yusif Eyvazov and Jader Bignamini
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:
Q.: Why don’t you publish complete specs for your products?
A.: We’re sure that specs can’t help in defining which device sounds better and which sounds worse. This opinion is given a detailed account on “T&C Method” page. On the other hand when designing, tuning and testing an individual circuit or a whole device we measure technical parameters. This information is used for our orientation but only during the intermediate stages of work and doesn’t influence our final decisions about a particular device. The final decision is based upon the sound quality checks made according to our T&C technique.
Q: How long does it take to make an amplifier to customer’s order?
A.: This term depends on the amplifier model and the special provisions made by a customer; it usually amounts to 4 – 12 weeks.
Q. Has been ever held some comparative tests of your equipment with the global brands?
A. This question is quite often what is, in principle, understandable for new equipment, not yet proven in the market. Indeed, comparative tests were carried out, and especially recently was conducted an experiment at the Bolshoi Theatre. Both recording and registration immediately, an expert assessment, to compare the sound of the two DACs - our DreamDac and top-end version of the MSB.
In the course of blind listening to our DAC was recognized as the best, we held a competition on the main stage of the country, and won!