Unedited Interview in English
Harro: Who is Chris Russell, and more importantly, who is Chris Russell as a ‘person’?
Chris: Since I was a teenager I was a lover of music. Not only rock music but all kinds of music. Even Broadway shows. We lived close to New York City and my parents used to visit Broadway shows and used to bring back music and I listened to that. I was always interested in music and I was always interested in a better way to reproduce music. As we got older we went to live symphonies more often, so live music is a big part of my and Carol-Ann’s experience, so we try very hard to bring the live music experience into the home.
Beyond that we do a fair amount of charity work and I sit on the board of directors of a local charity that works with people that are in trouble with spousal abuse, a sit on the board of directors at the Peterborough symphony as well, I am actually the chairman of the board. We do a lot of work with the handicapped, because my daughter has a special needs stepson that she cares for and we also get involved. Carol-Ann has Cystic Fibrosis in the family and we are fundraising walkathons that we support to raise money for research for CF. So we are just everyday people, happed to be very interested into fine music. We are going to the Toronto symphony orchestra and support that by subscribing to their music as much as possible.
Harro: The company is still located in Toronto? Is that also where you live?
Chris: We live in a country setting in Peterborough, a more cottage community. It’s really a summer’s resort and that’s why we moved the company over to Peterborough. We used to be in Toronto but the crime rates in the neighbourhood went op. We knew we did not have the money to buy a new building in Toronto because of the high property values, so we sought communities in the surroundings of Toronto and Peterborough seemed to be the most beautiful, so we moved there.
Harro: What are your greatest achievements in life?
Chris: My greatest achievement is raising two beautiful children to adulthood. My son is in its 40s and he is well employed and he turned into a good person in his life and my daughter is a firefighter in Toronto. Because she has a stepson with special needs she does a lot of charity work like raising money for a sick children’s hospital in Toronto. So two really nice people I raised.
I am also proud of the Bryston product line. We take it very seriously. Quality, reliability, customer service and the overall business-effect we have. We try to treat everybody the best we possibly can and get a reputation of being accessible. Nobody is too good to pick-up the phone and answer the questions of our customers. We have a friendly, open and non-hierarchical environment. For example, we only have one reserved parking spot and this is for Carol-Ann because she has an electric car and we have a plug-in station there. So I have to fight for a parking space like everybody else.
Harro: Building both a business and a successful career takes sacrifices. Is there anything you would have done differently if you were granted to make one wish today?
Chris: Uhm… (long silence) I think I would have probably expanded our dealer network in other countries sooner than we did. I had an older brother who was our marketing manager and outlet in the US for a long time. The amount of product that we sold in the US was somewhat limited because he didn’t have enough hours in the day to handle the marketplace and we eventually had to change the relationship. Maybe I should have done that sooner. But we more or less held to our principles on most of what we’ve done. I find that important.
Harro: You already mentioned your music taste is not limited by one genre and you actually prefer a lot of different music styles. Do you have any album recommendations you would like to share with our readers?
Chris: The most recent album that I bought was the album New York Rhapsody by Lang Lang (www.langlang.com), a pianist that is pretty well known and there are so many different songs that have to do with New York, like music from the musical the West Side Story. One song on that album I like the most is Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. (George) Gershwin arranged a Rhapsody in Blue for two pianos; Lang Lang is on the right and Herbie Hancock is on the left. Lang Lang uses a Steinway and Herby Hancock uses a Fazioli. Both are huge 9-foot grand’s, they sound very different and they interplay with each other. It is a tremendous recording; it brings all the orchestral instruments and pianos right into the room. And that particular song is hugely well done; it raises the hairs on your arm.
Harro: What kind of sound system do you currently listen to at home?
Chris: At home we have a Bryston BCD3 cd player, that we just started shipping ten days ago and we have a BP17 pre amp. And we also have a pair 7B cubed power amplifiers, one on each side of the room. The speakers we have are the model T signatures with the external crossover. And it is very nice.
Harro: So all Bryston then?
Chris: Of course all Bryston. Why should we have anything else? We also have the BOT1, the BDP2 and the BDA3, so we can play files and that kind of things. Carol-Ann has been steadily ripping cd’s to a hard drive, so we already have a lot of music.
Harro: You must be a busy man. Do you still have time for hobbies? Like fishing or restoring cars. Are there any hobbies you would like to share with us?
Chris: I would say the biggest hobby I have along with Carol-Ann is going out to live productions of music. We love plays, we love orchestral music and I am on the board of directors of the symphony in Peterborough. We also attend a lot of symphonic productions in Toronto. We have also flown to other countries and cities to go to certain symphonic productions. We do a lot of music listening and when we are not listening to live music we tend to listen to music on the Bryston stereo at home; if you can call that a hobby.
Harro: So most of your spare time is going to travelling and live music productions.
Chris: We went to Italy, Greece, Germany, Austria, to Holland and Prague. When we went to Prague, we saw the original handwritten manuscripts of the third, fourth, fifth symphony of Beethoven and a Mozart manuscript on display. And besides this we take care of our eleven grandchildren. Ranging between the age of 4 years to 24 years. And we get to baby sit quite a lot with the younger people and host people in our home, you know they sometimes want to come over for the weekend or for a week when their mother is away. So we do a lot of that too.
Harro: What are your most fond memories at Bryston since the establishment?
Chris: Because my family is in the position to decide how things go, it has all been fun. It really has. There have been little disagreements over the years, but nothing that could not be overcome in discussions and that kind of deal. But I honestly think that I have more fun now than I did 20 and 30 years ago. Because some of the products we are coming out with right now are more different from what I remember. In other words; if you bring out a net pre amplifier or a new model of an amplifier you can usually hear a difference and improvement. But the most recent stuff that we are come out with like the BCD3 and the Cubed series amplifiers, when you listen they make a bigger difference then I remember in products before. Like it is more of an improvement. So I would say recently is my, eh, fun time and fondest memories.
Harro: Did your lifestyle, for some reason, change over the years?
Chris: Just in general, my taste in music has become a little more classical these days. I used to listen to everything, rock and roll, Led zeppelin and everything. I go back to the 60s, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and all that. I really liked that music in those days. But I would say my lifestyle has changed over the past ten years quite a lot because we do a lot of travelling, we do a lot of going to live productions of music and for instance we went to an opera in Vienna. Just about a week ago and we flew to Vienna just to go to that opera. We expanded the trip to include two weeks of vacation time and some business contacts in Austria and in Holland. But the reason we came over to Europe was because of that particular opera we wanted to see. So that is a big change in lifestyle. That something is important enough that you would actually take the time to go there; even if it is in a different part in the world.
Harro: The new Cubed series are a substantial leap in performance. Sound wise; why choose Quad Complementary output stage over, say, a class A design?
Chris: It’s a little difficult to understand, but class A was designed to get rid of cross over distortion. When you have a class B or AB output stage, there is a cross over region where one transistor hands over to the next. And Class A have both transistors conducting fully 360 degrees of the cycle. But in doing so, it actually creates other distortions like second, third harmonics and a few other harmonics in a smaller amount. What we are trying to do with our quad complementary output stage is to have the advantages of a class A output stage with the efficiency of a class AB output stage. And if you understand how the circuit works it actually it has two output stages in one. The one is using PNP transistors and the other NPN transistors. But they are both used on both halves. And that linearizes the cross over region quite a bit. NPN and PNP transistors just have different characteristics from each other. They have a different bandwidth and different on-voltages; all these things are different. So if you have a perfectly linear transfer, in a cross over region you have to have both types of transistors on both sides; so that they match completely. And we did that on order to get a very linear distortion figure, low distortion and linear operation. It does work very well and it is very stable. So we have the advantages of linearity, stability and reliability.
Harro: Does this also cancel out noise and other unwanted things?
Chris: I wouldn’t say that is has anything to do with noise. The output stage doesn’t really have a noise problem. If you have noise in an audio product is at the input. Not at the output. The big difference in the cubes series is really on the input stage that was designed by a brilliant Romanian PhD, Alexandru Salomie. He had a design for a very linear amplifier that we want up using in the input stages of all our cubed series amplifiers and there are two or three things that works very well. One, it gets rid of common noise much better than all the other input stages I have seen, like a 20 dB improvement and rejection of common mode and hash on the input line. Another thing that it does is an extremely linear and it handles the signal in a very relaxed way. It has super low distortion. And it also has lower noise, so it is quieter than the amplifiers before. Al of which make a big improvement. So we are really pleased that people recognize the improvement.
Harro: Why the importance of lowering noise floor and effects of interference in power amps?
Chris: I think the human hearing system is more sensitive than most people realize. I think that noise rides on the signal and it never goes away. And the more there is, and the more it interferes with the reality. What we are really trying to do is to bring the live performance into the listeners home. In order to get the goose bumps you can get listening to live performances. We find over the years that there are so many tiny things the hearing picks up and the lower the noise, distortion, interference of line harmonics and RF, it gives it away as recorded. We always have a lot of research and development going on to find the last tiny little improvement. It is ongoing and it has been going for forty years and if I can help it is going on for forty more.
Harro: Tube amps are very noisy, and not low on distortion but some of them are able to reproduce a very realistic timbre and holographic presentation. Isn’t that what’s it all about?
Chris: I think the tube lovers are able to train themselves to listen past all of that. I remember in the old days and that is coming back now, of course, LP’s. You put on an LP and you have all kind of noises, but somehow your mind can take that and move it aside. And you are not listening to that, but you are listening to the music and I think tube lovers have an ability to do that and listen to that what tubes do well. As you said they can reproduce timbre really realistic. What we are trying to do is the exact same thing without having you need to work to ignore it. Leave the noise completely out of the picture so you don’t have to ignore it and reproduce a realistic timbre, placement and air in the reproduction; like a tactile reality of the instruments in the room. So we are trying to have the realism of tubes without some of the disadvantages.
Harro: Did Bryston ever considered the use of tubes in amplifiers?
Chris: We haven’t yet. If you have time, I can tell you a story. We had an engineer, also a PhD, many years ago, and believe it or not, he was Dutch. He came from Holland and het designed a tube amplifier that was spectacularly good. He said that it had a dampening factor of 10.000, the distortion was 0.05% and the noise was -120dB. You would think that this was the perfect piece of equipment. Then we played a piece of music. First on his amplifier and it was just beautiful and everybody in the room clapped afterwards. It was that beautiful. And at the end of the performance there was a beautiful soprano. It was above the orchestra singing along as a rising and falling complement to the music. And it was really beautiful. I remember that. And after that we put in the Bryston 3B amplifier because it had the same power rating of 100 to 120 Watts a channel. We played the exact same piece of music over again and it was still beautiful, it still sounded really wonderful but suddenly all people in the room realized that it was two soprano’s. Not just one and they were separated in space; you could almost see them. And that was the difference. And even the Dutch designer eventually said tubes, in his opinion, don’t have the potential to reproduce that final little tiny bit of tactile reality. You would not pick out there were two soprano’s. The voices were closely matched, they were almost identical, but with the Bryston you could separate them out in space and tell where they were. We realized at the time, and he proved it himself, that there was no point in getting forward in his design anymore. He could not get that kind of delineation of tactile reality of the tubes. It could do all wonderfully well, but just not that thing he was looking for.
Harro: The current BP26 preamp is around for many years. It is based on early BP20 technology. This dates back to the early nineties, so the actual design goes back decades. When may we expect an all-new BP27 including Quad Complementary input and output stages?
Chris: Well, the quad complementary really applies to power amplifiers, because they are not running in class A. The BP26 and BP17 are all class A because class A uses here a very little current. 50mA or something like that. It is even class A in our headphone amplifier. It doesn’t carry the distortion problems of a class A amplifier that is running as much as 10 Amperes of idling current. I think the 28B can deliver pulses of over 150 Amperes. Trying to run that thing in class A would be impossible. You will have a whole power plant devoted running this thing. And it wouldn’t measure as well. Many think the 28B is the best amplifier in the world. There is nothing that can beat it. So when you run a transistor at a very low current levels, like in sources, pre-amps and DAC’s, it stays linear over the whole operating range. Class A works at low levels, but it doesn’t at high power levels, unless you would have an power amp as big as this table with fans blowing on it all the time.
So, there is no need to change. Although going forward we still will have quad complementary because even at 50 or 100 mA you start to get into the advantages of that again. The BP26 is sort of an old-school amplifier. It still uses a potentiometer for the volume control; it does not have a digital volume control over other pre amplifiers. A digital volume control can work very well, they can track in 0,1 of a dB and all the channels follow all the way up and down. A potentiometer based volume control will always have variations in both channels. They won’t track each other perfectly.
Harro: Electronic volume controls do sometimes make a distant clicking noise, so I still prefer a potentiometer.
Chris: We have a special circuit that gets rid of clicking noises of digital volume controls. It was designed by a Dutch engineer named Dan Marijnissen; a brilliant fellow. So we don’t have that problem with a digital volume control. But, some people want the potentiometers. They don’t want any electronics in the path to change the volume.
They also want an external power supply that is very beefy like the BP26 has. And the BP26 measures and sounds really good and we know for certain customers that is the ultimate for them. We are working to improve the BP26 yet again and take some aspects of them into the twenty-first century, but I think it is going to remain a sort of an old school kind of product.
Harro: Several years ago Bryston went digital. It seems to be a big gamble for a seasoned manufacturer of amplifiers to go digital. What were the biggest challenges?
Chris: Well, we are finding out now what the biggest challenges were. Among the lessons we have learned with DA converters that you have to have much more potential than you actually use. Even if you use a 24-bit 96kHz signal, you still want a DA convertor that can do more than that. So we got a 32-bit convertor chip that can decode up to 384k. And every time we do that, we find that every time they sound a little bit better. So I think it has something to do with excess capability of the product and keeping things as linear as they can. All the way through. But maybe the most important thing is that you have the same clock running both the drive and the D to A convertor section. And so they are absolutely locked together; there is no reclocking involved. There is no converting going on inside. So it all goes through in a single pass. To my ears the improvement is really noticeable. So I guess digital signal handling has to be done in a way that it is the proven, most linear and least disruptive way possible. And one clock seems to be an important thing.
As I already mentioned earlier in the interview, the human hearing is ridiculously sensitive. Because a million years ago we were just creatures in the trees and we had to know which way the thread was coming from and we had to tell very quickly where the food was. And you had to locate this in space. And believe it or not, the differences in timing between ears when locating things in space can boil down to fractions of milliseconds. So your brain and your ear interfere with timing and alignment of fractions of a microsecond. That means that your hearing mechanism is really sophisticated. It has tremendous computing power devoted to it. Because it’s a survival thing. You know in the history of the world it is one of the most important things that the ears are sensitive enough to tell the difference between friend and foe. You can always tell the difference between a real voice and a recorded voice. The voice is the single thing that you hear hundreds and hundreds of times. You can tell that it’s real and when it’s not. This takes a very sophisticated system and if you try to fool the hearing system, the electronics have to just as delicately designed.
So that covered that question?
Harro: Did the technicians who normally developed the amplifiers have the knowledge to design a digital product?
Chris: We brought in new engineers, we worked a long time and we did a lot of experimenting and developing.
We were trying different things out and did a lot of comparative AB tests and everything else before we were satisfied that Bryston digital products sounded as good they it possibly could. As I mentioned before, we spend a lot of time and devotion in development and the digital product need at least the amount as analog products and the engineer that is most responsible for development of digital products is from Holland. His work ethic is like amazing and his insistence on perfection is a huge advantage to the job we are doing. So we are proud he’s doing that.
Harro: Did Bryston ever consider launching the new cd player as a transport only; so, without an internal DAC like the BDP2 digital player?
Chris: The BOT1 is just a transport and it fits into the BDA3. So technically seen it is the same thing. The only thing you with an external drive connected into a stand-alone DAC is that you don’t have the same clock. And that is what the BCD3 does. And it seems to make a difference for the better. It was immediately audible to me and to Carol-Ann. It is a little known secret that women have better hearing than men. Carol-Ann was the first to notice when I put the BCD3 in. She looked at me and said ‘this is amazing’. And she has been listening to all the stuff we had and it was all Bryston already and the BDC3 made enough of a difference.
Hein: Do you prefer the BCD3 over the digital files?
Chris: The digital files sound amazing, they really do. Especially at 24-bit 96k or even 192k they sound so smooth and flawless. I would say, even it is 16 bits the bdp3 comes pretty close too. It comes pretty close to 24-bit.
Harro: The BCD3 does up sampling to 32 bit right?
Chris: Yes it does. And the BCD3 has two 32-bit converters in it one for each channel and they run in balanced mode so it works very well.
Harro: Most brands choose to add a digital input to their cd-players for connection with lower spec streaming devices. Why did Bryston not choose for such an addition?
Chris: I did realize in the beginning that we didn’t have a digital input on the BCD3. I asked the question and I think it had something to do with the sound quality of the cd player if you have that extra circuitry in there. To be able to switch between the cd player and stand-alone input.
Harro: Bryston chose to implement Roon. This is a paid service, and it is not cheap. Why choose this above self-programmed and free to use functionality similar to Roon?
Chris: We do have our own software called Manic Moose and that certainly is still available. Roon is something we were asked for. A lot of people came to us and said if you make this available, it will be an advantage to them. So they are both available. Hein was telling me about the experiences with Manic moos. There is still room for improvement and we are working on making it more user friendly and less confusing. I am always a believer that simple is better.
Harro: Tidal recently added MQA and some record companies are supporting MQA. Will Bryston follow these developments and enable MQA with a new firmware release?
Chris: If a new medium comes along that people are happy with in quality and they express an interest for we always do our best to include it. At the moment I couldn’t say for sure if it can be done by a firmware upgrade.
Harro: What is Brystons outlook and opinion on class D amplifier technology?
Chris: Class D is a viable option. It can work very well. It is a common misconception that class D is like a digital amplifier. It is not; it is a linear process. And if you look at it in the technical terms, it’s actually a carrier wave, a triangle wave and a triangle wave has to be exactly perfect to the tiniest degree in order to have the signal be as pure as it can be. But it is still al linear process. It’s just pulse width modulation and the pulse width-varies is a perfect analog of the signal. It is basically the way DSD works. There is nothing wrong doing it that way. It is a little bit more complicated than class A but it is capable of having very high-performance. I still don’t think that even the most recent class D circuitry is quite as good as the best class A circuitry. Not yet, but it may one day. And we will continue to work with class D because it is much more efficient. An amplifier no bigger than a matchbox can give you 300W a channel. So far you still have to sacrifice a little bit of sound quality in order to get that small size and efficiency. But that may not always be the case. So we will devote a lot of time and experimentation to improve class D can be done as well as anything else.
Harro: Bryston also focuses on speakers and recently also on vinyl. Why? Should one company not just focus on a few target areas instead of being too much of a generalist?
Chris: Well, there are two strong reasons. And one of the strong reasons has to do with that we want to use the products that we make to test all the other products that we make. In other words, if we have a really good speaker, the speaker is designed in a way we think it gives the best imitation of reality and that speaker has become an especially good tool for listening to electronics and vice versa. The other strong reason is a little more anecdotal. Our marketing VP James Tanner has a personal interest in loudspeaker design. And at least for 25 years he is been buying every kind of loudspeaker that has pretence of super quality; all the different brand names and he listened to them all for a couple of months. He buys them with his own money, brings them to his home and listens to them and makes a complete set of notes of what he liked and what he thought that could be done better. Then he sold that speaker and bought another contender. 54:40
So he wound-up with a really long shopping list of the things that he wanted for his reference loudspeaker. It wasn’t necessarily to be the absolute best in every single thing But it had to be very strong in linearity, dynamic range well designed in dispersion so that it interacts with the room very predictably, it had to have a very high high-frequency limit and a very low low-frequency limit. It had to have no dynamic compression, a lot of loudspeakers you put a lot of power in to them and the actually don’t reproduces all of that dynamic range, but actually a part way. So he shopped around his list at many speaker manufacturers, because we are not a speaker manufacturer. We don’t build the drivers. But he found a company in Canada that does. The design their own drivers and their own cabinets. He didn’t want to hear a hollow sound of the wood while knocking on it, so all the bracing was specially designed. He worked with the speaker manufacturer for two years before he was satisfied and that the prototype was the way he wanted it to be. You know, the funny thing is it wasn’t meant to be for sale. He just wanted a pair of reference loudspeakers for himself. When they finished building this, many people that came over to his house said this is beautiful; it does all things beautiful well. So he came to us and said should we build these things?
We listened to it and it did very well and I can’t think of a thing I would change. It’s a great contender. It is a reference and normally reference doesn’t mean the best. Al it means is a known quality. You know exactly what it is going to do. I personally think that all around the model T series are now the model A series. They are similar to each other in sound characteristics. All around they have the best line-up of characteristics of any loudspeaker that can’t be beaten. That’s how we got in loudspeakers.
As far as turntables; Turntables went out of fashion quite a number of years ago. Only a few boutique manufacturers were making turntables and they were very expensive. But now it turns out that many people like vinyl and even the young people are coming into the vinyl marketplace. So the market is growing. Every year they sell more vinyl than the year before. No other medium can say that. The manufacturing of the turntables slowed to nothing. But the science continued to advance. All of that came available and convenient to use. So when we looked into this turntable question, we realized that we could apply some science to that. And we could wind-up with a really fine product for a reasonable price. It is not the least expensive turntable on the market, but in terms of its ability to handle signal is very close to the top. Maybe even at the top. It has been reviewed all over the world as absolutely stunningly good. Perhaps we will include a Bryston cartridge, but I am not sure. It is another James Tanner pet-project.
So that is what we do. We give the people the option of producing music in their home the best possible way.
Harro: In earlier day’s Bryston sourced their components in North America and built their products completely by hand in Canada. This seemed to be one of the ‘ground rules’ of Bryston. Currently we noticed parts of Chinese origin and the more affordable Bryston audio streamers are based on the Raspberry Pi. Those devices are certainly not built by hand. Why did Bryston change its approach?
Chris: Well you have to have thought how things are done in the automobile industry. When somebody buys what he thinks is a Ford, they realize later that that Ford was built in China or in the Czech republic or so. And that is true for semiconductor manufacturers. You can’t buy a transistor made in North America. You can buy a transformer made in North America but the economies of scale might not be there. Most of the transformers that we use are actually from a company in Taiwan. We find if we can get the same quality from a different country that that’s not a barrier. We still do the final assembly and final testing in Canada and the quality assurance and everything else are still contained in the factory. But the components parts, it is almost impossible to restrict your purchasing to any part of the world. Almost every company that produces has branch plants everywhere. That’s the reality; it’s a global world now.
Harro: 20-year warranty. Was there ever any regret since the introduction of it in the early nineties?
Chris: Never for a minute and the reason is because we realized when we put the 20-year warranty in place maybe in 1990 or so, we almost had 20 year experience with the reliability. And we said we do not have a lot of failures in the later years on the amplifiers and we have an amplifier in the market since 1973 that is still running well so we decided at that point that we had to do some work behind the scenes and we looked at all various things that affect the lifetime of an electric component. And one good example is an electrolytic capacitor. They can built in a lot of different ways. But basically they have a solid, liquid and a gas all contained within one enclosure that remains in stasis. And to remain that you have to be sure there are no chemical reactions going on, that there is no corrosion available to damage the connections, You have to be sure the connection between the leads to the foil of the capacitor are welded instead of riveted. Because riveted has the ability to start moving and cause little sparks and deterioration of the joint. You have to use specific kinds of electrolyte to make sure it will last for 50 years instead of 20. So we did an analysis of the breakdown mechanisms of all different electronic components that we use and we realized that this is something you can take care with the burn-in time. And we have a 100 hour burn-in all of our products. So we build our products for 50 years and gave a warranty of 20 years so we are not risking anything. And after all our analysis we noticed the failure rates went way down and they stayed down. You would think a big 1000W amplifier would have reliability problems, but it is probably the most reliable product we make because it is so thoroughly analyzed. We always go for under stressing of a component and we don’t run things at a very high temperature or run things at a high current levels.
Funny thing is, if you buy a car and you pay 30.000 for that car the manufacturer is probably not making much profit on that. What they make their profit on is fixing the car. After the warranty runs out. So the engineers are thinking how to design a product so that it lasts an exact period of time. Otherwise they kill their profit. 66% of profit that car manufacturers make on average is made from fixing the car after the warranty expires and a car has a projected lifetime of 10 years. We have to do it the other way around. So my engineers when they look at the circuit boards and design, they are trying to make it last forever. That is a different mindset.
And people that buy a Bryston they know that it will probably more reliable than a new product from another brand. So it as still a good value at the second hand marketplace. I think this is a good sign that used Bryston products are still considered valuable and have good lifetime. That gives people that buy new more confidence that this is a product they can rely on.
Harro: What is Brystons long-term vision and can you reveal the roadmap for 2017?
Chris: Bryston’s history is always one of improving the products wherever we can. Whether that comes from improved available technology, like a higher bit D to A chip or finding tiny ways to improve the signal quality like having a patented input stage design by engineer Alexandru Salomie we are always working on trying to make things better and I don’t think anything is going to change in that regard. We are always working on making things more reliable. Keep in mind that we have a 20-year warranty and anything breaks in the first 19 years and 364 days cost me money. I want to design products that never need repair. We aren’t at 100% yet, so we are continue to push in that direction. I always want to make sure that the sound quality is better than yesterday. 2017 will bring more of that too. As far as brand new kind of products I think we cover most of the spectrum now. I think there will be new products as time goes on. I don’t know if this will happen in 2017.
Chris: It’s a funny story. We have a graphic artist at work. Gary Folds, and he does two jobs for us. He does all the silk screening of the panels, but he also does the layouts. So if you see a brochure and see something that looks like a photograph, is actually a computer rendition. So you would see an amplifier and all the details are there, but he did it on a computer. We had a brochure for our headphone amplifier, he designed a computer-generated image of a pair of headphones and put it on some kind of headphone head and we had orders coming in for those headphones. Because they had seen those headphones in the brochure. But they didn’t exist, so I said maybe we should build these.
Harro: So Roadmap 2017: Headphones!
Chris: That is actually a good point. I like that.
Harro: Today Bryston is a privately owned company. I guess you are one of the shareholders?
Chris: That’s correct. There are 4 main shareholders.
Harro: The business is founded, built and managed by family and their close friends. Might we expect some of them to retire in the near future?
Chris: I am not going to say that I am never going to retire, but thing is that I am having so much fun now, that I get up in the morning and looking forward to go to work and working on some of the things we do. I feel younger than I look. So I don’t have a lot of motivation to move out of this thing and retire. For the time being its business as usual.
Harro: So, Bryston for life.
Harro: If that moment comes, will Bryston ever hand-over ownership to a large stock listed company, or will it remain a family business?
Chris: There are younger people in the company now, the second generation, and it is possible that they take it over. My younger brother Brian has a son in the company, he is really good, James Tanner, he has a son in the company, he is very smart, very capable and clever. So, I have a hope anyway that the company will continue in family hands.
Harro: You are currently enjoying your season holidays in the Netherlands. Do you have things planned?
Chris: We are staying in Amsterdam and we explored a little bit of Amsterdam. We have only be there for a couple of days now and we have four days left, so we are going to do more exploring and Carol-Ann wants to go on a canal cruise.
Carol-Ann: (from a distance) We are trying to get a bit or rest while we are here. Be on vacation. Just wander around the shops a bit, pick up some food and cook it in the apartment. Sit quietly and read. Just make it a vacation not going all the time, otherwise you go back to work and think ‘O God, now I need a vacation!’
Harro: Thank you so much for this interview.
Chris: You are welcome.