Bob Carver: Carving a Name For Himself Page 3
Carver: I wish. There are only two engineers: myself and Vic Richardson, who's been with me eight or nine years. Since right after the inception of the Carver Corporation.
Atkinson: That's not many creative people for a $25 million company.
Carver: Yeah. We should have more.
Atkinson: A change of subject: The last time you appeared in Stereophile's pages was in response to the amplifier challenge. What was the legacy of that whole business?
Carver: When I started that transfer-function emulation project and then subsequently designed an amplifier with that transfer function, I thought I was being a powerful force for good and doing something worthwhile.
Atkinson: By allowing people to get what in effect was the same sound at a significantly lower cost?
Carver: What, in fact, I ended up doing was just pissing everybody around me off. I angered my dealers, I angered so many people, that I wish I could hop in my time machine, go back in time, and not do it.
Atkinson: Purely because of the social aspects rather than the engineering?
Carver: I just didn't like having my feelings hurt so much. It's my own fault. I didn't understand at the time that that's what would happen.
Atkinson: It certainly provided a lot of editorial copy for The Audio Critic, The Absolute Sound, and Stereophile. How do you see the relationship between a company like yours and the high-end hi-fi magazines? Do you see your company and the magazines as basically being in an adversarial position? Or as working toward the same end?
Carver: I see us all working toward the same end. As a matter of fact, in the case of Stereophile, it was a horrible slap in the face that hurt me tremendously editorially. But you know what? It really got me off my duff and it got me busy designing some new things. Some important and significant new products. That was the silver lining for me, personally and professionally.
Atkinson: One of the comments that I thought rang true was from Larry Archibald, when he said that he would be much more interested in seeing what you, Bob Carver, would be capable of doing as a creative engineer if you had no limits imposed.
Carver: Well, in part it was because of Larry's feelings that I started on the Silver Seven. Now I'm not going to say I did it to say, "Ah! I showed you, Larry Archibald! I can design a great amp too!" But probably at some subconscious level, there was a little of that going on. It did result in a world-reference-class amplifier; the Silver Seven's unquestionably the best amplifier in the world. And it gave me a new transfer function; this time it was my own transfer function! And I've done the best job I can to put that transfer function in my Silver Seven-t. It's not exactly the same. It's not an infinite null, but it's as close as I can possibly make it.
Atkinson: In production?
Carver: Both in production and on the lab bench.
Atkinson: Because one of the things which came out of that whole business for me was how unstable the null was. If you breathed near the amplifiers, the depth of the null would change and the position of the null would change.
Carver: If you let the sunlight shine on an amplifier that's sitting there with a 70dB null, the null will go higher. Or deeper. Less null.
Atkinson: This is the crux of the matter...
Carver: A 70dB null is a very steep null. It's really down to the roots of the universe and things like that. 70dB nulls aren't possible to achieve in production.
Atkinson: What is your target null between the Silver Seven-t and the original Silver Seven?
Carver: About 36dB. When you play music, the null will typically hover around the 36dB area. So it's not a perfect null. No question about it.
Atkinson: It's 98.5% the same...
Carver: It's not a bad null.
Atkinson: ...and there is a significant price difference.
Carver: Yeah. The only way to get a 100dB null is to buy the Silver Seven.
Atkinson: You were saying last night that one legacy of the Carver challenge was that it made you realize that, in fact, high-end magazines have significant readership among retail-store staff. The people who actually sell the equipment. Do you think that that is as important as the effect they have on audiophiles?
Carver: To the extent that the magazines enhance people's understanding of this wonderful, fun art of ours. Store salesmen are audiophiles.
Atkinson: Do you think that magazines, a) realize that, and b) take their craft seriously enough?
Carver: I don't think that magazines understand the power they have. You've heard the expression "the power of the press"? It's amazing. Part of being human is not believing that you can control the world. Why would a normal human being have that belief? And why, indeed, would a magazine have that belief? The reality, however, is that there is a tremendous, tremendous amount of power inherent in the press. Probably way more than any member of the press thinks or believes. That's been my impression from talking to editors for 20 years.
Atkinson: So even a casual remark, if it's in print, may have a significant effect, either up or down, on sales for a company like yours?
Carver: Absolutely. A tremendous effect.
Atkinson: How then could magazines do a better job in acting responsibly?
Carver: [laughs] I think the answer is very easy. Be open, be honest, be receptive to fresh ideas, particularly being receptive to different religions.
Carver: Religions. There are several religions that exist in our audio community. Magazine editors should practice religious tolerance. If you can be honest, if you can be truthful, if you can put your scientific hat on, be scientific when you need be, put your subjective hat on, be a subjectivist when you need be, and always be open-minded, never be defensive, that's what I believe a magazine should strive for.
Now, it's part of being human to be defensive, to have a tad of religious intolerance. That's okay; it's part of your humanity, it's part of my humanity. But I feel that magazine editors will do their job better if from time to time they step back, survey the scene from above, and question themselves as to their religious tolerance. Other than that, be honest and truthful. And the manufacturers have to respond in kind. They have to have the same fundamental, philosophical approach. Nobody's exempt from that. And I think that in the end the magazines play an incredibly important role in advancing the state of our audio art, both in the effect they have of getting manufacturers to do a better job, and also in their constant questioning "What if?," "What could be?"