Philosophy

Music is the language of the spirit.
-Kahlil Gibran

Welcome to AudioMachina. This section has been created to give music lovers a better understanding of my philosophy, my beliefs, and above all, my passion for making products that transcend the realm of the ordinary and pass into the realm of the sublime. For music,  the most ancient and wonderful of arts, can take our soul and our spirit to places which cannot be found anywhere else on earth.

 

Excellence is rarely found; more rarely valued.
-Goethe

At AudioMachina, I have one goal which towers above all else: The closest possible approach to perfection. When I say “perfection” in the context of a music system, I have a very specific idea in mind: The utter and complete “disappearance” of the audio equipment as a recognizable entity. The greatest compliment I can pay to any piece of audio equipment is not to say it has “great bass” or “a warm midrange” or “amazing detail” or any one of a million other “audiophile” buzzwords. Quite the contrary: The greatest compliment I can pay to any piece of audio equipment is simply to say “it sounds like nothing at all.”  This approach, surprisingly, is exceedingly rare, not only in the audio industry but also amongst “audiophiles.” The industry is rife with companies making speakers which have “big bass” and “detailed treble” and come in a wide variety of pretty painted colors or exotic polished woods, or amplifiers that sound uniformly “luscious” or “big and bold” regardless of the emotional intent of the original artist.

While these things sell in quantities far larger than a true music lover would expect, this is not where my heart and soul lies. Instead, I want to make something that, when I close my eyes, takes me places far, far away. Joyous, uplifting places where the presence of mere “equipment” does not exist, and cannot be found. Where only the music remains, in all its original glory. Those select few music lovers who truly understand this journey, and wish to partake of it, will find that our humble products will take them closer to these places than anything else on earth.

 

Beauty of style and harmony and grace and
good rhythm depend on simplicity.
-Plato

To attain this goal, I take a very different approach than traditional designers. I am not an engineer by training, having instead studied Physics and Mathematics, subjects which deal with the essence of ideas, rather than the details. For this is where my heart and my soul and my mind dwell: Unlike the vast, vast majority of engineers, I have more interest in the forest than the trees. This being the case, I do not design products by taking an existing (and flawed) concept and tweaking it over a period of years (or decades) to be the best it can be. That is a well-worn road to nowhere, traveled by many (perhaps most) of the pre-eminent audio manufacturers of our time. Instead, I spend those years thinking, just thinking, about the design concept itself. How does one come the closest to perfection in every single area of the design simultaneously? This is not an easy question, to say the least. The world is full of designs which absolutely excel in one or two limited areas, only to display utterly glaring faults in several others. This is not perfection, except in the most limited, and ultimately useless, sense of the term. It is only when one creates a product that has essentially no compromises in any area that one begins to approach the ideal of perfection. And it is my belief that such a thing is not possible by trying to improve on “traditional” designs. The flaws are simply too great to overcome. Such a thing is possible only by creating a new and higher design paradigm.

 

Perfection is attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away.
-Antoine de Saint-Exupery

To those accustomed to traditional design paradigms, AudioMachina’s loudspeaker designs appear deceptively simple. They do not have highly complex angular cabinets that look like post-modern robots ready to strike at unsuspecting passers-by. They do not have cabinets made from plywood or MDF or multiple different kinds of industrial laminates disguised by fancy “code letters”. They do not have a dozen different drivers piled haphazardly together. (Ah, but they do not have just a single driver either!) They do not have massive and complex high-order crossovers designed using sophisticated and “proprietary” computer modeling software. They do not have the latest and greatest ceramic diamond beryllium titanium driver technology. They do not have precisely machined ports for their midrange and bass drivers. And so on, and so on. And why is this so? Because, to put it simply, designs which have these things are instantly recognizable by true music lovers as loudspeakers and not real music.

 

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.
-Albert Einstein

This is why each of our cabinets is sculpted out of merely two giant blocks of solid aerospace aluminum alloy, into smooth and gently flowing geometries that, from the perspective of the drivers mounted in them, seem not to exist at all. But try them with your knuckles, and you’ll understand: This is the most inert, most inaudible loudspeaker cabinet on the face of the earth, period. And not by a small margin.

This is why we use only the highest quality first-order crossovers in our systems, and wherever possible use no crossover parts at all.  The complex passive crossovers of conventional designs, as a friend of mine has so eloquently stated, are inevitably “….Musical Vampires– They suck the life right out of the music.” For those accustomed to the hopelessly dull and lifeless sound inherent to all complex passive crossovers, the “breath of life” one hears in AudioMachina systems will be an utter revelation.

This is why we only make sealed-box loudspeakers. Ported loudspeakers, regardless of the specifics, never sound like real music. The port itself is a flaw so great that it is impossible to ignore. Its destruction of the transient and phase properties of real music is simply too great to overcome. The tradeoff involved, that of bass extension versus transient/phase fidelity, is the audio equivalent of the devil’s bargain: You get something you think you wanted, but in the end it only leaves you hollow and empty inside. And now, with the introduction of our SSA cabinet system, MAPS technology, and SX subwoofer system, we have so totally obliterated the traditional bass-extension vs. bass-quality duality, that the world will never be the same again.

I could go on and on, but the point is the same: True advancement in any field is achieved not by adding complexity, but by achieving elegance and simplicity in the design itself. And this is done not through competent engineering, but through true creativity. Only then does the end result begin to approach the ideal. And that is why our products are so unique, and so uniquely and astonishingly musical.

 

Better a little which is well done, than a great deal imperfectly.
-Plato

At AudioMachina, I have no desire to make a huge product line covering a wide range of consumers. I made this promise to myself a long time ago: The only designs which will ever see the light of day are those which (1) represent a true advancement of the state of the art, and (2) are demonstrably superior not just to others in their price range, but to anything at any price. Only then will the design see the light of day, and it will be priced solely based on production costs, not the class in which it punches. For example, I know of no loudspeakers in the world which can approach the overall performance achievement of our loudspeaker systems, even at two or three times the price. This is my guarantee that when you purchase one of our products, you have invested in a work of art and design that will still remain as a true “classic” even decades hence. I know of no finer or more satisfying investment.

Furthermore, I insist on absolute quality in production, such that I steadfastly refuse to hire employees to do anything related to production of my designs. Every single AudioMachina loudspeaker is painstakingly handbuilt, using only the finest materials, by me personally. This necessarily limits quantities, but represents a level of quality which is simply unattainable in an employee-based production environment. That is not to say that our production line is low-tech; quite the contrary. The quality and sophistication of our facility would be the envy of almost any manufacturer, and the build quality of our products reflects this quite plainly.

Lastly, I find the search for even higher performance to be insatiable. For this reason, the products I produce do not necessarily have a “family resemblance” in appearance. To be sure, each represents a true statement in design, craftsmanship, and performance within its category, but my goal is not to make “me too” designs, even within my own product range. I have ideas which stretch out into the future farther than I can see, each one of which I will get to someday, and a very few of which will likely come to fruition as our next “best in the world” product. But in the meantime, rest assured that when it comes to the unbounded joy and passion which music can provide, there is no finer investment in the world than our current products.

 

Dr. Karl Schuemann
AudioMachina