We Ask 10 Questions For High-End
During Enjoy the Music.com's very special 25th Anniversary we're asking various high-end audio manufacturers to answer the same ten questions. Their answers may surprise you! This month we're featuring Francis Chaillet, AudioNec's Fonder and CEO. At AudioNec, they developed new technologies for their speakers in order for them to accurately reproduce the concert experience. Their commitment is to provide products that can transport you through time and space and create that magical moment.
Everything is available, not just the finest details, but also this incredible energy, striking dynamics, and the subtle nuances within the voices and each instrument. All AudioNec speakers employ the same main driver acting as a wideband sound producer from 200Hz or 400Hz to 20kHz or 25kHz. All Signature speakers share the same DSPV4 processor brings the drivers and their integration closer to perfection, as it also provides a sophisticated room acoustic correction system as well.
Q. What is your first memory of falling in love with music?
A. I was a kid, and my parents took me to a big circus coming in the town. So many weird stuffs there. At the end of the day, the most impressive of them was a guy taking this opportunity to play African drums in the street outside the circus. It was fascinating, such a huge volume level, such an energy, nothing we could imagine listing to the radio at home. My parents did not want to stay there long enough so I had to go with a big frustration. Then alone at home, playing the radio as loud as I could did not bring anything that can be compared. Of course...
Q. How did you first get introduced to high-fidelity audio gear?
A. Some years later my best friend at High School was the son of a doctor, his father had a High Fidelity system and for the very first time, I felt the same kind of pleasure I experienced in the street. I remember it was with a Thorens turntable, some Macintosh amps, and Cabasse or Elispon speakers, I believe. I do not exactly remember today. We had nothing at home but an old lamp radio so a time came when I spent as much time as I could at my friend's house boring his parents with rock music played too loud.
Q. What is your favorite piece of vintage hi-fi, and why?
A. To be honest, I am not nostalgic for vintage hi-fi, but I have been in love as a young man with Studer A80 2" 24-track tape recorder not hi-fi stuff rather audio professional. I was then a photographer and got the opportunity to be close to Demis Roussos at that time singer of Aphrodite's Child. The studio in Paris became another kind of dream place with a huge mixing console and this more than impressive recorder. It was the first time I could benefit from A/B comparison between live and recorded music. It was very good indeed. In the meantime, I did not understand why there was a huge difference between live music, sound recording, and the final sound at home...
Q. When did you decide to start a high-end audio company?
A. It all started 20 years ago at the beginning of the 21st century, one day I was working hard on my computer doing some photos adjustments and editing and suddenly I asked to myself why a computer could not play music? The computer was an outstanding tool capable to achieve incredible things such as photos or videos performances thanks to its power calculation, so why not music? Furthermore, most of the recording sessions within the studio were already fully digitalized. Something new appeared in my mind as evidence. Why not play directly the digital files because in the digital domain there is no loss of information.
There is some problems such as jitter but it is another stuff and it needs a long time to explain how we solved it. Then I spent some years without music but a day came when I thought to use my computer as a source, it was very bad so I started to improve. Three years later after a lot of work, a friend of mine fall in love with the result and asked me if I could do the same for him. The gap between a personal prototype and a product my friend could use safely was huge. Hoping that some others could buy it I decided to create the AudioNec brand in 2008.
Q. What, and when, was your company's first product?
A. So came the first AudioNec's Music Server that has been demo'ed for the first time in Paris show in 2009 and more widely at Munich HIGH END 2010. The first show was very frustrating, few people looked at the Server, most were attracted by the massive amplifiers and speakers from another company. This is when I started to think about developing loudspeakers.
Q. What challenges did you face during those early years?
A. The technical side has always been the fun and easy side, the real challenge is that in France it is impossible to raise funds for such a project, even with a very solid and serious business plan. Growing without capital is not possible without thinking another way. This is why doing the same kind of products with the same technologies in use for decades made no sense to me. I have always been doing things in other ways. I do not like to follow the mainstream, I am a real fan practician of what is known as lateral thinking. My credo is why make things the same way as others and having similar results? If we wanted to improve results and obtain the best possible musical sound reproduction, we had to find new solutions, new technologies to do things. It is as simple as that.
Q. How have your products evolved over the years?
AResearch and development is part of our strategy, from many years now an important in-depth work is aimed at reducing costs in order to make products more affordable while continuing to improve listening. This is how our entry level speaker model three years ago was Ä50,000 it is today less than Ä20,000.
Q. What is your company's most popular product(s)?
A. Clearly above the rest come the Evo speakers, the scalability concept from the smallest Evo 1 to the impressive EVO 4 allied with the ability to play "live" meets a real worldwide success. These four levels are designed in a modular way so that the user can build his speaker system by acquiring a starting set and later complete with one or more modules to achieve a superior setting. This way, from a more affordable starting point, AudioNec offers its customers the opportunity to "grow" their speaker system over the years to reach the very best sound reproduction quality one can dream of.
Q. What is your next planned product offering and its' features?
AWe would like to provide the AudioNec highest sound quality not only reserved for wealthy people but also available to as many enthusiastic music lovers in the world as possible. Music is Art and Art is life. Without Art we are animals. So ultimate products for real life-like music can not be only affordable for the happy few. AudioNec is a French brand so we have the idea of Revolution in our history and DNA. This is why we will soon launch the smallest and most affordable AudioNec loudspeakers ever. The code name is "Nano". "Nano" will be available both as bookshelves and as floor stand speakers, based of course on our DuoPole driver technology and the concept of upgradeability that makes the success of the Evo Line. One can start with bookshelf speakers and upgrade later to floorstanding loudspeakers. That is revolutionary, and that will be done by AudioNec. Price target is around Ä12,000 for the bookshelf model and less than Ä20,000 for the full floorstanding version.
Q. What advancements do you speculate high-end audio will offer ten years from now?
A. As a high-end music server manufacturer supporting internet streaming, we know that thanks to the higher data rates streaming will become standard even for high-end audio. We hope that at the same time, the listening quality we find today only in high-end audio will become more affordable and made available for most music lovers. Thanks to our Research and Development strategy we will be part of it. The future is bright if we are willing.