I have spent a lifetime immersed in all things associated with listening to music. This all started from my playing all genres of my late parents record collection dating back to the 1950’s, then my own collection of purchased records from the early 70’s onward and latterly, compact discs, (though a late and cynical adopter at the time), but ultimately, regularly listening to and taping(!) BBC radio programmes, starting with the once wide-ranging remit of BBC Radio 2’s output in the 1970’s to 1980’s in VHF stereo, including ‘light’ music from Friday Night is Music Night, Melodies for You, The Radio Orchestra Show, through to progressive rock with Alan ‘Fluff’ Freeman and his Saturday Rock Show plus John Peel’s late evening schedule of wide ranging new and cutting-edge releases; to name but a few of the schedules that caught my attention and interest.
From the 1980’s onward, Radio 3 would become the default choice of listening and an incredible resource for learning. This switch in listening habits coming post the era of the music industry turning pop music into a commercial enterprise with an obvious downturn in quality and originality of compositional content. From this arts station, much education and expanding of listening habits were derived through being exposed to the world’s greatest classical and jazz music; both live as well as recorded, and in the highest of fidelity, long before Optimod dynamic-range compression was ever deployed.
From the early radio listening experiences I encountered in the 70’s, and then visiting a friend who had inherited his father’s 1960’s hi-fi system that humbled my own record playing apparatus, including the subsequent copy of Hi-fi Answers that my mother had bought me, the quest for better sound reproduction began in earnest and the interest in hi-fi equipment and what worked and sounded the best within my limited budget, (or rather, my parents generosity with their Christmas and Birthday budgets), became an all-encompassing journey of purchases and upgrades, plus engineering my own upgrades along the way to established designs over the ensuing decades, including building my own large loudspeaker cabinets in the early days, fitted with Piezo horns and 12″ Fane or Altai drivers.
Having attended concert halls, cathedrals, and salon recitals for orchestral, organ, piano and chamber music, through to arena rock gigs, jazz clubs and staged musicals, plus sitting in the control rooms of recording studios and hearing the engineers mixing down the live relayed channels and the subsequent playing back of recorded multi-tracks, including personally owning, using and testing many top-flight systems of diverse disciplines, both at home as well as in specialist dealers’ demonstration facilities with whom I have spent time in the company of, the ability to ‘know’ when sound was being delivered with a realistic authenticity as far as the technology allowed, through a correctly set-up hi-fi system of design integrity and means within a given room possessed of a reasonable acoustic, led me toward realising which sounds were considered worthy auditory references. Such references have been the basis of my never-ending desire for the best standards wherever possible with sonic accuracy, but moreover, accuracy that is both engaging and rewarding and for prolonged periods of listening without being ground-down.
I have often told people that there is nothing new under the sun in hi-fi, yet marketing will tell everyone otherwise. Licences expire and new corporations get on-board with something shiny and bold that stake new claims, yet those in the know of longstanding within this critical and specialist industry realise where such origins are often derived from. My interest has included looking at the true geniuses that have brought about something genuinely specialised and original that speaks for itself through demonstration alone.
To this end, the duo of the late Alan Willis and David Hall of Integrated Audio Systems, (IAS), were together such a case in point, and my encounter with their loudspeaker system designs way back in 1980/1 and the subsequent securing of their most revered product several years ago out of nostalgic curiosity and the rewards gained from its incredible performance thereafter has informed the basis of this venture into re-creating a ‘no holds barred’ interpretation of a most coveted loudspeaker system design that you are now reading about within these website pages.