|High end audio and modding according to Rick Cullen:
Well, I have been involved in this field of audio and high-end for most of my life. In fact, 35 years worth! I think that's a lot of time learning and working on products and this cumulative experience has taught me a great many things about the industry and our goals and what makes for a good product to work on. First off, knowing if I succeeded or not is easy because the proof is in the pudding as they say. I listen and I listen to everything I do. It's a constant challenge to relate the electronic changes I make with the sonic changes occurring from those changes but therein hides the process I go through. Paul, Stan and I worked together for many years honing our skills of tweaking and listening and we all continue to do this today, although we now do it independently. It's kind of like the way one builds a library - it takes years of work to build a great library and Lord knows I've put in my time.
When a piece of equipment or a new technology come into my sights, the first thing I look for is the intrinsic value of that product. In other words, is that product built well and based on a good design? You know, there are plenty of bad designs that almost no amount of tweaking and parts improvements can turn it into a great product. Can I make it better? Sure but not great. Great requires a great foundation.
What intrigues me is the product that's 80% great to begin with and because of its price point or any number of reasons didn't receive the best parts, the best finishing touches and the best thought process to achieve what we all look for: music in its natural glory.
Take the Sonos product. Everything about it is spectacular except the way it sounds. They have one of the best interfaces around and it's a joy to use. Unfortunately, most of their efforts apparently went into the interface and the performance of the unit got shortchanged. This is indeed a product worthy of my attention and the notice of my customers. I can take this great product and make it a killer sonic bargain. Why? Because it's built well, has all the good stuff but lacks that last 20% that makes a product a joy to listen to. They got everything but the performance right. It's a tale told many times in our industry. Cullen Mods provides a much needed service to our community - making a good product great.
How do I know when I've succeeded? It's easy. I crank the system up and listen. We all know the sound we're looking for. It's that jaw-dropping smile on your face that gets your foot tapping, that makes you call your wife into the room and say "listen to this!" It generates excitement, pleasure and all the good things we all listen to when it comes to high-end audio.