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Canor Audio: An Interview with Zdeňek Březovják & Igor Naco Ovád ! [English]

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An interview with the chief designers & co-owners of Canor Audio, made in Slovak.

Enjoy !
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1. How many years did you work on amplification ? Tell us about yourself, your profession & your passion, music & audiophile products, plus how it all started ! 
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It all started from a passion for music. My father is a musician and a multi-instrumentalist. Not only did he play, but also taught playing the wind and string instruments; the wind instruments were tenor saxophone, baritone horn and trombone, and the string cellos and double bass. He played in countless brass music which he later conducted and played in several string quartets. So I’ve been in touch with music since I was a kid. When I was six, I learned to play the violin (one and a half years), but when we moved, I started going to the tenor saxophone lessons my father taught. When I was older, I became more interested in the technical aspect of sound reproduction. I went to the high school of electrical engineering in Tesla Vráble, which was the largest manufacturer of amplifiers in former Czechoslovakia. I have always been fascinated when I was practicing in Tesla, how the amplifiers were assembled, measured and tested. My beginnings of designing of various amplifiers started right there. After high school, I continued my studies at university and has chosen the specialization as closely related to the field of sound as possible – in radio-electronics. After school, of course, I was employed in a company that developed and manufactured amplifiers. But they were PA amplifiers for musicians, and there was a focus on performance rather than reproduction quality. After four years, I left this company and made my first amplifiers, which I called the Audiospace – there were two 500W monoblocks and a battery-powered preamplifier.
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2. When did you started working on Canor Audio and tube amplifiers?
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As soon as I developed my monoblocks, I met my current colleagues, who were already producing their tube based amplifier TP101 and we decided to set up a joint venture two years later. This was the beginning of the development of our mutual activities. At that time we were 3 partners and we had 2 employees.
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3. We are auditioning your new AI 1.10 for the upcoming review on hiendnews.gr,  a no-compromise design and great value for money. Would you please give us details on the qualitative differences between the older model and the current one ? 
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Inside the new AI 1.10 integrated.

An amplifier is a complex matter. It is always about details and finesses that are embodied in the overall design of the amplifier. Certainly, a separate components is a better and more uncompromising solution, but it also brings in higher costs. The CANOR AI 1.10 is a perfect example that great sound can be achieved without making a lot of compromises even with integrated amplifier. The TP101 and other types of amplifiers we made, such as the TP105VR+ and TP134, were classic ultra-linear connections that deliver great sound. However, by having a lower damping factor, it is quite hard to pick the right speakers for them. In order to make a more versatile amplifier, we decided for a fixed bias cathode feedback design. The model TP106VR + with 6550 was designed with consideration to that idea. But there was still something missing. It took us countless tests, listening and measurements after we finally get to the design with automatic bias cathode feedback and in pure A class – the AI 1.10 model. This topology can play superbly with 80-90% of the speakers that are produced, although there are always listeners that will enjoy the sound of, for example, TP134.

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4. What are your personal criteria when listening? Do you prefer tube amplification over solid state paired with conventional or horn speakers?
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I always judge the systems based on whether I like them or not and how long I can listen to them. It happens to me, for example, that I am interested in the sound of horn speakers at some shows, but after half an hour I find out that it is not a sound that I could listen to for a long time and then I always find out that speakers of classical design suit me more.Like everything, the vacuum tubes also have their pros and cons in both the sound and the technical field.
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Canor Audio, Munich MOC 2019.

5. Please tell us about the pros and cons you just mentioned!
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The biggest technical weakness of the vacuum tubes is their reliability and durability. The lifetime of vacuum tubes is clearly determined and the customer should accept it. It is the same as, for example, in a car – you have to change the oil in it, etc., if you want it to work well after driving a certain number of kilometres. Likewise, the tubes must be replaced after playing a certain number of hours. The semiconductor amplifiers have a significant advantage in this.
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As far as the reliability of the vacuum tubes is concerned, the quality of the tubes produced has significantly decreased over the last 15 years. In order to maintain the reliability of our products, we had to deal with this situation. Since there was no vacuum tube measuring system available on the market that would meet our requirements, we decided to design such a very complex and extensive system by ourselves. The available systems did not achieve the accuracy and functionality we required – we wanted to store all the measured tube parameters in the database and have the possibility to select the tubes according to different measurement accuracy filters. Last but not least, we wanted a system that we could rely on in terms of the temporal stability of measured data.We’ve been developing this system for about 6 years and called it Aladdin – this system really allows us to select “Aladdin’s miracle lamps”. I think tube amplifiers will always have their place on the market as well as transistor ones. I’m not saying push-pull is a better engagement than a single-ended one, but it’s a more versatile engagement.This is doubly true, in the case of the single-ended class, what I mentioned earlier in case of the classic ultra-linear connection, that it is harder to match the speakers to such amplifiers. New tubes KT120 and KT150 allow you to design more powerful amplifiers.
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6. What about your new class-A solid state AI 1.20 ?
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After discovering the “magic” of the Class A tube amplifier AI 1.10, we were tempted to try class A design with the transistors. We were so pleased with the sound that we reached, that we decided to include this amplifier in our portfolio – a solid-state amplifier AI 1.20, and let the customer choose the sound they like and, last but not least, offer an alternative to customers who still have some mistrust towards the tubes. I think the sound parameters of the Canor AI 1.20 solid-state amplifier can be compared with absolute leaders in this field.
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7. What are your thoughts on the future of Canor Audio?
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I can’t tell the future, however, it never crossed my mind when we set up a company with 5 employees in 2000, that we will employee around 80 people in 2020 and that we will possess the ultimate cutting-edge technical background and technologies, that enable us to move ahead and keep up with the competition. But the truth is that we enjoy this work and we will always do it the best we can, always look for ways to improve and progress. And at the same time bring our customers joy with excellent listening to music.

The gorgeous looking and sounding AI 1.10 push-pull KT88EH based integrated. [review pending]

8. What are uncommon specifics which you would like to point on at the AI 1.10 Amplifier?

Output transformers are made by using custom coils, which we assemble by a combination of EI permalloy sheets and classic EI sheets in the ratio 30:70. A possibility to connect AI 1.10 as a so-called “integrated monoblock” where two amplifiers are connected via a special C-Link bus, doubling the power and improving the parameters. It is a connection without the need of a preamplifier, where the user selects one AI 1.10 as a Master and the other one as a Slave and controls both amplifiers synchronously by the Master amplifier.

9. What are the tube testing and selection methods for Canor Audio products?

As far as the reliability of the vaacum tubes is concerned, the quality of the tubes produced has significantly decreased over the last 15 years. In order to maintain the reliability of our products, we had to deal with this situation. Since there was no tube measuring system available on the market that would meet our requirements, we decided to design such a very complex and extensive system by ourselves. The available systems did not achieve the accuracy and functionality we required – we wanted to store all the measured tube parameters in the database and have the possibility to select the tubes according to different measurement accuracy filters. Last but not least, we wanted a system that we could rely on in terms of the temporal stability of measured data

We’ve been developing this system for about 6 years and called it Aladdin – this system really allows us to select “Aladdin’s miracle lamps”.

In addition to the measurement, testing and pairing of the tubes, the initial burn-in process is also important for achieving ideal parameters and lifetime. For this purpose, we have developed our own “burn-in” frame. All the tubes we purchased, especially power tubes, have to go through the burning process on this frame for 100-200 hours. This way we stabilize the parameters of the tube and the tubes can be further measured and tested on our “Aladdin” device.

10. As the finale’ What music would you take with you on a deserted island ?

Some wonderfull female vocals for sure, any album from Tracy Chapman

….some powerfull male voice, Give It Up To Love album from Mighty Sam Mcclain

….some acoustic music of course, any album from Nils Lofgren

….and something from pop scene, Off The Wall album from Michael Jackson

….and and, if there is any chance for some party on this island, electronic music: Random Access Memories album from Daft Punk !!!

mr. Zdeňek Březovják co-owner

& mr. Igor Naco Ovád

Review of Canor Audio’s newest tube integreted, model AI 1.10 pending ! Available soon only on hiendnews.gr !

Canor Audio Official Web Site: Canor Audio

Auditions & Distribution in Greece:

 

 

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