John Tchilinguirian: Energetic Speakers Page 3

Deutsch: Tell me more about the listening tests.

Tchilinguirian: We do a number of different kinds of listening tests. We do mono listening, where we get a number of other speakers for comparison. We use about three speakers and then different listeners would go in, switch between them, and try to get a feel for the speakers' spectral balances. Is the high end cleaner? Is it faster? More detailed?

Deutsch: Is this a blind test?

Tchilinguirian: Yes. The person listening doesn't know what's behind the screen. They write down their comments and evaluate the speaker on pleasantness, bottom-end response, midrange detail, top end, overall balance—a number of things. And we go through this a number of times, moving the speakers around. We've treated our sound room to bend the standing waves around the listener's head, and have made sure that the speakers in the three positions are not influenced by which positions they're in. After that, we go through a stereo listening session where somebody comes in and listens to a number of cuts in stereo, the listener leaves, another set of speakers goes behind the curtain, the listener listens again, and then another listener comes in.

Deutsch: For the Veritas, did you bring in speakers in the $6000 range for comparison?

Tchilinguirian: Yes.

Deutsch: So you do this blind with a number of experienced listeners?

Tchilinguirian: Yes.

Deutsch: Members of the API team?

Tchilinguirian: Yes. And then once we get to the final stages, a number of us will take the speakers home and live with them for awhile. This is near the end.

Deutsch: This is non-blind testing?

Tchilinguirian: Yes—near the final stages. It's a very grueling process. Then, when different people take them home and live with them for a while, what you want to find out is how the speakers integrate with various rooms and setups.

Deutsch: If there's some disagreement about how different prototypes sound, is there a bottom line in terms of whose decision about various sonic qualities will be followed in the final product? Since you're the chief designer for Energy, does the buck stop with you? Or is it a decision by committee?

Tchilinguirian: We need to work on it until we all agree—that makes for a very nice working atmosphere.

Deutsch: And you have a group of people who can agree?

Tchilinguirian: Yes, absolutely. There may be times when one of us doesn't agree, but it never gets to the point where somebody is discouraged and says, "Okay, well, forget it." We always work on it until everybody agrees. It's taken a lot of years to get the people who work well together, and it's very important in terms of the end product. It's the people, and the way they work together, that can produce things like the Mirage M-1 and the Veritas.

Deutsch: Is the API listening room an IEC listening room?

Tchilinguirian: Generally, yes—in dimensions and reverberation time. We've done acoustic treatment to make sure the speakers don't sound different in the different positions. We're about to build a new soundroom that's a little bit larger, because we're developing larger and larger speakers and subwoofers. The room we now have is about 15' by 23', and the new one will be 21' by 36'. We're also doing this because we're getting into looking at how you can do room corrections using DSP. We want to be able to do some experiments with rooms.

Deutsch: Did you work with the NRC in Ottawa?

Tchilinguirian: Yes. For a number of years I measured prototypes there. It was a great facility, a great tool. They had the anechoic chamber and the IEC listening room—which had its problems, but I learned to listen around them.

Deutsch: Are you still using that?

Tchilinguirian: No. We stopped using the NRC when we developed our own system to basically do everything they've got there. We built our own test equipment, which measures not only on-axis, but at 15 degrees, 30 degrees in the horizontal plane, 15 degrees up, and 15 degrees down in the vertical plane simultaneously—again, so we can speed up the measurement period.