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 Zoltán Bay CEO and designer for BAYZ Audio. The founder, Zoltán Bay has been obsessed with audio equipment and devices that offer high-end sound quality for more than 30 years. Zoltán is an engineer who strives for perfection, a technical creator who, as a music lover, also plays the piano. During his career, he has developed numerous technical innovations and special technical solutions, several of which have been patented.
His creations include amplifiers, loudspeakers, media players, and cables. Apart from his technical successes, he devotes a great deal of attention to appearance and aesthetics, which has been recognized by being awarded a design quality prize. BAYZ Audio was established to build on the experiences gained on state-of-the-art innovation. They desire to create high-end audio devices without
Q. What is your first memory of falling in love with music?
A. Music is a very old and undying love affair. I do not remember precisely when it started, but already at the age of four, I was operating my parents' reel-to-reel tape recorder.
My old reel-to-reel tape recorder from the 1960s.
My brother and I made microphone recordings from the radio, like the San Remo song festival. At the time it was broadcast on the radio live from Italy. We were crazy about it! Of course, my taste in music has changed considerably over the years. Luckily in my childhood, we also were able to listen to performers such as the Cream, the Four Tops, the Spencer Davis Group, the Yardbirds, the Iron Butterfly and, of course, the Beatles, the Bee Gees, the Rolling Stones, Santana, and later Keith Emerson, ELP, Nice, Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin etc. etc. I can't even begin to list how many musicians we got to know and listened to all day. But, interestingly, there was always a duality in me: I liked classical music as well, even in my early childhood, and I was particularly impressed by J. S. Bach.
I frequently went to churches to listen to organ concerts, where, of course, the focus was mainly on Bach. This was at the beginning of my high school years when I was about 14 years old. These years revolved around music, even though I was specializing in physics.
When I was sixteen I decided to learn the organ. I applied to a music school where I was told to come back after I had been playing the piano for seven years.
As there was a piano at home, I started to learn to play. It was a decisive musical experience when Zoltán Kocsis played excerpts from J. S. Bach's the Art of Fugue on the TV, his final piece summarizing the art of fugue composing. My flagship loudspeaker got its name from here too, Counterpoint, as Bach called his movements.
Unfortunately, Bach could no longer finish his last fugue. I practiced a great deal, so after one and a half years I had learned three of his double canons and his last fugue, Contrapunctus XIV, in addition to other pieces. At this point in time, I had reached a level when I could have started to learn the organ; but, this was not possible while studying at my university.
Then came military service, university, and Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, Oscar Peterson, MJQ, Miles Davis, Ella, Stan Getz, Petrucani.... In other words, jazz and the classics: Wagner, Beethoven, Mussorgsky, Rachmaninoff, Rimsky Korsakov.... Music always filled my life.
I never wanted to be a musician (and I am not one); but, I continued to teach myself and even today I learn new pieces (mainly Bach). Now that I am older, I have returned to Baroque music. I discovered the wonderful works of Handel, Lully, Ramo, Vivaldi, and Pergolesi.
I never imagined that my wife and I would increasingly turn to the vocal works of the Baroque. We have been forming each other's taste in music for more than forty years. Luckily, she is very much my partner in this, our tastes are very similar. She brought her love for music from her childhood home; her father was a musician and played the saxophone.
The audio image of my devices originates from this source, I do not use other equipment as my reference.
Q. How did you first get introduced to high-fidelity audio gear?
A. FM hi-fi stereo radio started in 1970 in Hungary. Even at that time, my parents had a stereo radio with bookshelf speakers.
The old Videoton stereo radio.
And even today, I remember the signature tune that they played before every broadcast so that you could set the recording level of the tape recorder. They were very exciting times, I listened to a great deal of new music and recorded it on my Phillips reel-to-reel tape recorder (of course not with a microphone).
Q. What is your favorite piece of vintage hi-fi, and why?
A. In the 1980s I bought a Quad ESL57 in Switzerland.
I developed my amplifiers on this loudspeaker. It had a fantastic sound and helped me a lot with my development work due to its complex load impedance (0.7 Ohm 20 kHz). It taught me to understand how to design and build an absolutely stable amplifier. Also, I would have very much liked a Revox tape recorder; but, I was never fortunate to own one.
Q. When did you decide to start a high-end audio company?
A. In 1982, my university degree project and also my first patent was a power amplifier free of TIM distortion (Transient Intermodulation Distortion) with a slew rate above 100 V/µs, with open-loop gain above 10 kHz, and class A operation with sliding work point (this was the solution I patented).
It was at that time that I decided to develop and build my own amplifiers.
Q. What, and when, was your company's first product?
A. In 1986, when I designed my first successful MC amplifier.
Q. What challenges did you face during those early years?
A. I took my amplifier to listening sessions with potential customers (at that time, audiophile culture was big in Hungary). I was confronted by the fact that it was useless to build an excellent amplifier if all the other devices (cables, speakers, etc.) are not able to perform on the same level that my amp can. At that moment, I resolved to produce a complete system with amplifiers, cables, and loudspeakers. I tuned up the other parts of the system so that everything was at the same exceptional quality.
Q. How have your products evolved over the years?
A. My power amps contain nearly 40 years of development. I believe I don't have to tell those who know me that I use completely different solutions compared to others. Perhaps Nelson Pass's way of thinking is the closest to mine: I too design amplifiers from discrete elements.
BAYZ Audio Pre and Power Amplifier from the 1990s.
Also, I have been dealing with Linux-based media players for about ten years. First, I designed dynamic speakers, upright cabinets, then hybrid electrostatic, and broadband electrostatic speakers.
AIR1 my broadband electrostatic speakers.
Then, I produced an electrostatic tweeter with 360-degree radiation, which was followed by its dynamic version, the BRS (Bay Radial Speaker), which I patented throughout the world in 2011.
Before 2017, I only sold my equipment in Hungary and Switzerland, mainly custom-designed systems; but then, I decided that the world needs to know about my tweeter. In 2018 I brought out my new carbon and composite-based speakers...
BAYZ Audio Courante
BRS-HR Frequency response and Polar diagram 100Hz to 100kHz.
...but the arrangement of the speakers, the low-mass cabinet with its aerodynamic design are no everyday features either. The BRS gained me my reputation in the profession, but it is my Courante and Counterpoint speakers for which I am known by the general public throughout the world.
Q. What is your company's most popular product(s)?
A. My two loudspeakers: The Courante 2.0 and the Counterpoint 2.0. I am concentrating on these now.
Q. What is your next planned product offering and its' features?
A. I have a big decision to make now in this respect. One option is to develop new electronics to advance the state-of-the-art. The other is to design a more reasonably priced loudspeaker for a wider audience using the same phenomenal BRS tweeter. I will probably go in both directions in the future, but, unfortunately, it is never as fast as we want.
Q. What advancements do you speculate high-end audio will offer ten years from now?
A. What I see is that the average technical standard is getting increasingly high. Perhaps, we are becoming increasingly distant from being able to accept and identify phenomena that have a dramatic effect on sound quality. This knowledge can, at the moment, only be gained empirically. Many phenomena cannot be tested by instrument(s), but can be sensed by ear. If you want to find out what lies behind these features, then you have to step beyond the simplified thinking of an electrical engineer and take the approach of a physicist, at least this is how I feel.
In my opinion, it takes decades to recognize these phenomena, perhaps that's why there are the "big moguls" in the high-end profession, because they really do know something. I hope that the young engineers of the future will be open and learn the professional secrets of the seniors and continue their work at an even higher level.