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POSITIVE FEEDBACK ONLINE - ISSUE 15
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Designer's Notes
by Lloyd Walker, Walker Audio

 

Whenever possible, Positive Feedback Onlinepublishes the design philosophies/designer's notes from various of the creative folks in fine audio. We believe that our readers will benefit from exposure to the ideas of the audio artisans, whether they necessarily agree with the notions expressed or not.

We don't publish self-serving articles. We do publish honest, informative, educational articles. The reader can evaluate the commentary in our "marketplace of (audio) ideas" and derive whatever value he or she will.

Pro bono publico! Let the virtual ink begin…

First, I would like to thank Positive Feedback Online and especially David Robinson for reviewing our products. A special thanks to Dave Clark who put us in touch with Mr. Robinson. It has been an extremely enjoyable experience.

My fascination with high-end audio started in 1976 when a friend and I purchased identical high-end systems...except for the turntable. I bought a $65 manual AR turntable; my friend splurged on the top of the line $2500 automatic turntable. When the two systems were set up, mine was far better. We substituted one component at a time into his system leaving the turntable for last. When we finally put in the AR, his system suddenly came alive... and I had to know why a $65 turntable sounded better than a $2500 one. This was the beginning.

In many years of research, we've found over and over again that more is not better. Our design philosophy is to keep the circuitry as simple and direct as possible, use the best parts and control resonances. We listen to everything that goes into a component for its sonic merit. We listen to every spool of wire to determine directionality. We believe the magic is in the details.

Keep It Simple

You will not find LEDs, on/off switches, flashing lights, bells and whistles on our products. They are only there for two reasons: to amuse the customer and to give the dealer something to talk about other than how the unit sounds. More on dealers a bit later.

Think about it this way: With a rumor, the more it is repeated, the more distorted it becomes. It is same with the musical signal. The more it is processed, the more internal connections it passes through, the more it is distorted. Each connection extracts something from the music.

In the Velocitor, we use a modified QRT unit with a 10 piece mini-Valid Point Resonance Control Kit in compression. Each JENA Labs receptacle is wired with 9 solid-core silver and copper wires and isolated from each other to the IEC. All are treated with a deep cryogenic immersion process and the unit is fitted with a Valid Points Resonance Control Kit.

There are no LEDs, off/on switches or surge suppression. If surge suppression is needed, it is best installed as far from your audio/video system as possible, ideally at the breaker box.

The idea of keeping it simple reminds me of a situation that occurred a number of years ago when we set a turntable in Taiwan and met with three of our dealer's customers. One customer supplied parts to the electronic and computer industries. The customers were impressed with how the table and motor controller sounded, but said it could sound better if I removed the LED and the on/off switch on the motor controller. (The motor controller no longer has either.) They didn't think it would make a difference, so I did it. The sound improved a good 10 to 15%. They all bought the turntable and were amazed.

Dealers and customers

Since getting into the audio business, one of the most eye-opening things I've learned is the attitude many dealers have toward their customers. Statements like:

"We know analog is really good, but it is too much work."

"Our customers can't hear anyway."

"We don't clean records or CDs. We're beyond that."

"Tweaks take too much time to explain to the customers. We don't have time to teach them."

And

"We want products to be beautiful, expensive and convenient. Sound is secondary."

These statements were shocking to me when I first heard them. But sadly, I've heard them too often to be shocked anymore.

We have a very different approach to our dealers and customers. We believe that those in this hobby love music and strive for those magical moments when they are transported beyond their listening chair into the performance. That is how an audio component (and tweaks) should be judged. Does it create magic... goosebump-raising, time-suspending magic?

All of us would love to have a plug-and-play system that would create the magic instantly, but that is not reality. To achieve excellence, you have to work for it and excellence comes with the details.

We believe customers should be informed on what to do to get the best sound and how to listen and evaluate a system, so he or she can make the best choice for him- or herself. There should be more than just a choice between colors and how much you want to spend.

Customers are intelligent, dedicated to their hobby and want to get the best sound possible from their system, but not everyone has a lot of money. Luckily, there is a lot of enjoyment to be had with some simple products and a little effort. Taking the time to explain how to use products like the Velocitor, SST, Vivid and Valid Points is rewarding for both the customer and us. We enjoy hearing from customers who try them and are blown away by the results. Once they experience the improvement with one product, they try the next and the next.

Cables

A final word on cables: We really like the Silent Source cables. One of our systems is equipped with them and we did the last three shows with them. They are a great product and the best choice for almost all of our customers. They are easy to use and sound wonderful, especially when all the cables are Silent Source. It becomes a synergist match.

Omega Mikro cables are radical and must be handled with lots of care. They are exceptional, but are suited for only a very few customers who have the patience to work with them and the environment to accommodate them—away from kids, pets, vacuum cleaners, etc.

We are impressed with the care, time and effort David Robinson extended in reviewing and understanding our products, and elated that he liked and enjoyed them. Enjoying the music more is what it is all about.

Lloyd Walker
Walker Audio, Inc.

 

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