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While waiting for the evidence to arrive, I posed the usual set of questions.

Ed, you're somewhat new on my radar. How about some biographical information?

I joined a Japanese audio-video company after graduating from university. As an engineer and product planner at the company, I transferred to a subsidiary in the US, where I worked from 1985 to 1990 and again 1995 to 2002. When I started working for the company in 1985, Bart Locanthi* was in the next room working as a consultant for the mother company. We had lunch a few times together, mostly talking about his gadgets. But we did not talk much about speakers, which I regret now.

* Bart Locanthi became the Vice President of Engineering at JBL in 1960. It was under his tenure that the JBL L-100 Century, the world's most popular loudspeaker in its day, was manufactured. However, JBL was bought out and Locanthi disagreed with the new direction it was taking, causing him to leave in 1970. In 1975, Pioneer North America hired him as Vice President of Development. Pioneer gave Locanthi and his team a large budget to improve on the JBL L-100 Century they had designed a few years prior. It was then that he used his expertise and experience to design, to the smallest detail, what was to become the Pioneer HPM-100. The name itself bears a striking resemblance to its JBL predecessor; this was no accident, as the HPM-100 was designed to be an "improved" JBL L-100 Century.

Pioneer designed the SX-950 through SX-1980 series receivers to match a set of these speakers. If matched with one of these receivers, particularly the SX-1980, the HPM-100 is not only well-known for its excellent sound reproduction at low volumes, but also for its superior performance at higher volumes with almost no noticeable distortion or change in output sound quality. It was Locanthi's vision and genius that made it possible. Many will argue that he succeeded in his efforts in developing one of the best loudspeakers of all time. [Wikipedia]

Over time I designed a few garden speakers made of Corian. They were successful in the realm of outdoor speakers. Thanks to a great engineering group to establish a US-based speaker business, we were then challenged to develop a big flagship model incorporating beryllium coax drivers.

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Why the Evidence? Why now?
I have been using vacuum tube amps and Altec speaker systems for more than 15 years because the sounds are so vivid even when I turn down the volume. I was basically satisfied with the sound but looking for a higher definition sound in the mid to high range and to develop a smaller size speaker system for use in most any space. So I started work on the Evidence. After spending a lot of time to develop the system, I wanted to slowly introduce it to others. I wanted to prove that there is a different approach to reproduce attractive sound.

My biggest concern is the sensitivity of human ears. They are very sensitive to gaps of changes but relatively insensitive to gradual changes. Also, human ears are very sensitive to the sound of the human voice and the midrange in general. So I did not want to split up the middle of the vocal range. The Pioneer-sourced woofer of the Evidence reproduces 65Hz to 10kHz with that one voice coil. The Pioneer-sourced tweeter takes over from there.

I've had some interesting experiences. I have listened to 6.5 inch drivers with different cone material such as paper, aluminum, PP, Kevlar and honeycomb + Kevlar skin. Those units were well designed and their frequency curves were nearly identical but each material had a different characteristic sound. Among those, paper was the most natural to me. So two things became clear: I did not want to use two different materials in the midrange; and the material of choice would be paper.

I have also tried the following ideas to improve the sound:
  • High quality network components that are crimped, not soldered. This makes for better connections and long-term reliability.
  • Grooves cut between the stacked drivers to provide isolation and allow for natural and smooth high frequencies.
  • A resonance-controlled cabinet made of three different thicknesses of MDF. It works like musical instruments.
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My most important design philosophy is high musicality with a unique approach. The reason why our brand name is Musical Heart Instruments is because my goal is not realistic but artistic sound. Next important is that they be long lasting. I am against disposable culture so the Evidence is designed to be used for a long time. A long time ago, I bought an audio system for my father when he retired. When I looked up the speaker system around ten years later I was so sad and ashamed. The speaker surrounds were totally destroyed. I did not design that model but was working for the company that did. After that I made up my mind to produce long lasting speaker systems like old Altec speakers. In the Evidence, the woofer is surrounded with a sealed and damping coated cloth that will last longer. The third priority is the creation of an affordable and compact system. I did not want to produce speakers that are too expensive and too big for ordinary people. I want to spread audio culture to ordinary people.

Tell me about your personal audio system and musical preferences.

My big speakers are:
  • Altec A5 (ferrite magnet, MDF cabinets) I think 1980 - 1985
  • Altec A7 (Alnico magnet, plywood cabinets) I think 1960 - 1970
  • Altec 604-8G (Alnico magnet, plywood cabinets that I made ) I bought around 1980

My system for listening is:

  • Thorens TD-126 MK II record player
  • Jolida JD9 tube phono stage
  • Sun Audio SV-300BE tube amp
  • Sun Audio SV-2A3 tube amp
  • Fisher 500C tube receiver