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An In depth Interview with Professor A.J. van den Hul

  • Written by pulastya
  • Category: Blog
  • Hits: 900

Would like to share an interview that I had conducted last year with none other than one of the doyens of the cable industry, Professor AJ Van Den Hul.

Been working on this for a while now & finally can present my interview with one of the original 'cable guys' of the av industry, none other than Professor A.J. van den Hul I am most thankful to the good professor for being so modest & patient to answer my questions. He also was kind enough to share his unending treasure trove of experiences which were related to so many aspects of life outside the av world. A man who has seen it all, been there done that! May he continue his good work not only in the av industry but also in the various R&D projects that he is involved in especially the ones where his work has helped people overcome serious medical disabilities, hats off professor!

Your background in the AV industry

AJV: My background is outspoken, my hobby is generated by a high interest in music and sound reproduction. And a curiosity to find all possible reasons why sound did not sound as it should sound related to what I was hearing. For many years I detected always big differences between the original sound and the reproduced. The final quality never matched my first listening to the live performance. It will take a whole life time till you feel and know that it is O.K. Lucky I have kept audio as my hobby. As soon it becomes your profession, the real interest and curiosity is mostly gone.

Achievements so far in the Industry.

AJV: 1. I have, as Dutch Hi-Fi reviewer & journalist, developed the terminology for spacious listening. Was till 1965 not common. 2. I have theoretically calculated and afterwards manufactured my well-known stylus shape; The VDH – 1. In the meantime 1.5 Million styli are sold worldwide. The Japanese have copied this model and were also successful. 3. Together with a friend I have developed the 4Pi Tweeter used by the German Loudspeaker manufacturer Elac. 4. The basic design of the Burmester 808 was mine. 5. I have developed in 1987 the high conductive carbon fibers actually still in use in our cable program. In addition, related to this material we also use in many cables a high conductive carbon layer in our Hybrid designs. Because I did not openly share information with other manufacturers, we still have control over this product and applications. 6. The German Analogue Audio Association (the AAA) incl. the logo was created by me. An active analogue orientated group of audiophiles. 7. On our website you will find three Frequent Asked Question series with many questions about all kind of technologies. I have written this all to give others the opportunity to share thoughts and study a bit more in depth our hobby: Audio. 8. From 1982 until now, I have developed an audio company with export to more than 70 countries all over the world incl. 37 audio companies using our products in their products like many big loudspeaker companies. 9. Over the years I have recorded several CD’s where I applied specific our products to prove our quality. 10. From 1982 until now, the collection of live-time and audio awards is enormous. Regularly we have to add another shelf. 11. I have written over the years, when I was an audio-equipment reviewing journalist minimal 250 reviews in detail with plenty of pictures and very innovative measurements still in use by some of my former colleague’s. 12. The development of Hulliflex, a very innovative insulator without bi-polar effects and without any plasticizers. Plasticizers are necessary to soften PVC. But… they are environmentally not really acceptable. Despite this, PVC insulated cables are very common. They evaporate these plasticizers which certainly create health problems. In 1987 I have developed our still in use Hulliflex. Totally inert and sonic also a big achievement. 13. Based on the medical experiments around Hulliflex, my deep interest in medical healthcare has been strongly developed. Actually I can do precise medical measurements to find the background of practical incurable diceases like M.S. and a while ago a first step in the direction of curing ALS. 14. I have developed new types of artificial fibers actually under tests for all kind of applications. 15. Over the years I liked my hobby, I have given numerous of lectures about any subject related to audio: Both Recording as also Replay. 16. For several cartridge manufactures I have made plenty of designs. Of course, they are presented as theirs. 17. From 1975 until now, I have repaired and build over 75.000 phono cartridges and spread (or say, collected) all over the world. 18. I have developed several metal combinations in our cable’s like Fusion, Tunnel Technology, Linear Structured Carbon and lately: 3T. Actually we introduced CNT: standing for Carbon Nano Technology. Our most successful conductor of an extreme high quality level. 19. I like to design new packing’s for our products like the introduction of the innovative packing for our 3T interconnects. 20. Lately I have introduced a quite different medical treatment where information adjustments for the body are transferred by modulated light. The total system covers over 150 different programs. My plan is to replace traditional medicine by this new way of treatments. 21. Last but certainly not least, I have introduced a very innovative line of wide-band electronics with a sonic quality extremely close to the original. The frequency range of our feedback-less power amp is 150 MHz’s For practical reasons we have limited to 400 KHz at 0 dB. But, in case you like, we can build also a 1 MHz amplifier or, when you even like more, 10 MHz is also no problem.

Your childhood memories of AV Gears?

AJV: My father left me a lot of old equipment: Receivers and amplifiers. Was his hobby too. He worked as a designer for Philips in our country. First I took it apart and later tried to put together again. My first real working “Thing” was a 1 tube receiver where the same tube was used as R.F. amplifier, audio detector and audio amplifier with just enough audio output for a military headphone (2000 Ohm impedance each ear). The companies background & vision for future AJV: The background of my company was to structure all what was in my mind. It became too much to handle all myself. I have established 8 important statements we still use to-day: 1. The durability of our products should be without any discussion 2. There must be an optimal protection against environmental influences 3. I insist in the application of only “Green” raw materials 4. The serious wish to produce products serious music lovers really like and even need 5. We are never afraid to take a quite different route to find good working solutions 6. We apply constant research and developments to improve all our products. We use mostly our capital for R & D and not for marketing 7. We have and maintain intensive contacts with the professional industry to match their requirements 8. All our products originate from the highest technical levels available in Western Europe

Perspective of the market in India, 5 years down the line

AJV: The market in India is developing in a fast way from having nothing to very affordable and consumer adapted products. Here cheap manufacturing plays an important role. India can do itself here a lot. What it means that the basic needs in Audio can be fulfilled by Indian manufacturers. Higher levels in quality will still be imported until specific understanding also becomes available. It also depends on the sound quality evaluation of your listeners. There are specific local differences based on habits and original live music. The best sound memory you develop by attending as many as you can afford live performances.

What is your opinion on wi-fi technology & how far you see it going as a key in AV?

AJV: Wi-Fi technology improves per day. It is an easy way of listening with many sources. Mostly the musicians aren’t paid enough anymore. So professional musicians will suffer on the end and your Wi-Fi station will play only older jazz. Y

Our market perception globally, what could be improved upon?

AJV: Our market perception is to supply our products in the hands of real music orientated distributors. Not the type of box movers. With 70 countries to care for, we have enough to deal with. I have left Africa out-off our program because I think that in all the development countries in Africa, the inhabitants need their money to create better healthcare and education. And there is enough live music to enjoy till late at night. Current set-up & or dream set-up you aspire to? AJV: I have my two dream set-ups together. One at home I also use to measure and listen to all the phono cartridges I have made. The other set in our company is the best set I have ever put together. It consists of a older Thorens turntable with The Crimson Special Edition, our Phono stage: The Grail SB, our pre-amplifier: The Emerald and our power amplifiers: The Excalibur’s. Interconnects are made of Carbon Nano Tube conductors. The Loudspeaker cables are 3T The Cumulus. All mains cables are type mains stream. The room has got special acoustic treatments and I use our rings to adjust the sound dispersion. Also I have 2 studio recorders with plenty of master tapes recorded in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw.

Many thanks for preparing such a nice series of questions. At the moment I receive practically EACH day from some-one around the world a series of questions where I am supposed to mention my personal opinion about all and everything. I have no idea why this all lands here on my desk. But that seems the actual position I have. I have done my best to answer them all so your article will flourish. Wish you success by putting all together to please and entertain your readers.

With Best Audiophile Regards,

Aalt Jouk van den Hul.

The enchantment of audio on vacation

  • Written by pulastya
  • Category: Blog
  • Hits: 393

More than a vacation, an experience that changed one’s life.

A dear friend of mine who is the distributor of PMC decided to call me for an installation of his recently commissioned sale of a PMC Fact 3 Stand Mount Loudspeaker. Nice, I thought to myself as I would get an opportunity to assist him in setting them up at the owner’s place and have a little listening session of the same as a little cherry on the cake.

We arrived at the place of the install, which had already been done by the dealer’s team some time back and all that the owner was asked to do is to let the system play for atleast a 100 hours prior to my friend coming to personally set-up the speakers optimally in the listening area of the room. We were greeted by the owner’s of the set-up & post introductions, get down to inspecting the set-up, cable management and so on. The next thing we do is alter the positioning of the speakers placement in relation to the room, making note of the measurements, eyeballing the distance and then the actual placement changes of the speakers takes place keeping in mind where the owner & his family will be seated when they are listening to the music. The set of chosen audio cd’s hand carried specifically for the job go into the cd player one by one, guiding us with specific inputs in respect to the subtle changes that need to be made to the speaker’s placement and the exercise continues till we are satisfied that we have achieved the optimal placement of the speaker’s in relation to the sweet spots/furniture in the room and basic interaction with the room and its associated acoustics. The owner and his wife are both observing us intermittently whilst we are going about our business, interspersed with tea/coffee and general chit chat. Post completion of the set-up positioning finalized, we generally get into a discussion with how they arrived at the junction of where they eventually landed up with their decision and this is where the whole experience got very very interesting.

It goes like this: the owner and his wife were on vacation in Europe where they experienced a certain audio set-up consisting of a brand of speakers (Let’s call them ‘B’) The experience they had of listening to the music played through that set-up they heard with speakers ‘B’ so enchanted them that after they got back from their vacation, they decided to do some research on the brand of these speakers as they felt they would like to replicate that sound in their listening room back home. They contacted the owner of the place they had visited whilst on vacation to get the brand and model number of those speakers, post which they make inquiries about the availability of the same in India, contacting the distributor of Brand ‘B’ and inquiring about the particular model. They received the relevant info from the distributor about availability and its price, which made them happy and sad at the same time, happy as it was available in India and sad that it was costing a lot more in comparison to what it sold for in Europe. They now decided to look at other options in the market that would come close or better still super cede what they liked in the brand ‘B’ speakers they so cherished.

After extensive demo sessions of various brands and their models available in the home audio market, they zeroed - in onto the PMC Fact3’s. This too was achieved after they met a sales person who:

a) realized what they were looking for,

b) ensured that they went for the speakers that would be ideally suited to their requirements and most importantly

c) convincing them to buy these speakers inspite of the said speakers costing 5 times the budget that they had allocated when they set out to look for a pair of speakers!

The purchase ultimately was made on 2 factors:

1) The original plan for buying the speakers they liked was scuppered by the cost advised and of the attitude of the distributor sales staff of Brand ‘B’. Though to be fair to them, they did offer a reduction in the earlier advised price but it was too late by then for the interested buyers to consider them again.

2) The knowledge of the product being sold,  passion and sound acumen of the salesman of a dealer dealing with multi brands, knowing exactly what the client requires, showcasing the right product and going the extra mile to convince them of upping their original intended budget.

Not every day does one come across a story that is so interesting not only from the audio stand point but more importantly from the WAF point of view as that decision was ultimately made by the wife of the buyer for the better even though the connection was something more than just with the music heard, atleast in her scheme of things! Her second chain of thought was even more interesting, she wanted their children to get accustomed to listening to their music on a proper audio set-up. This train of thought to me spoke volumes of her noble intentions and that her priorities lay in the right place as far as paying attention to something that’s very important to atleast us people passionate about listening to music.

Chapeau Time Indeed!

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