|As promised, here's part 2 of my 4-part report on Avantgarde Music & Cinema, Manhattan's newest and exclusive Avantgarde Acoustic dealer. Today covers an impromptu interview with Eduardo de Lima of AUDIOPAX. It was conducted rolled-up-sleeves fashion in the wake of the new audio gallery's Grand Opening. His unique Model 88 SE amplifiers are distributed by Jim Smith of Avantgarde-USA. They can now be heard in New York City at Bob Visintainer's digs on 27W. 24th Street, just off Broadway.
For months now, a green-lacquered pair of 88s -- to match my beloved DUOs -- has taken pride of place atop my new Grand Prix Audio Monaco stand in the primary reference system. You could nearly accuse me. Of having a sort of personal investment in AUDIOPAX. You see, I was fortunate enough to begin telling Eduardo's unusual story of harmonic distortion "cloaking" nearly 3 years ago. At the time, I still contributed to my Y-Files column on SoundStage!. I wrote a lengthy exposé on my encounter with de Lima at the 2000 CES. Later at EnjoyTheMusic.com, I penned a preliminary report on his new statement amplifiers. It was based on a close-to-final pre-production pair that stood in until my personal units were built and delivered.
I've thus closely followed Eduardo's emergence from virtually unknown Brazilian audio designer to -- well, he's certainly not a household name yet. But. This soft-spoken, exceedingly humble engineer's renown, of highly unconventional yet serious and sound insights and inventions, is beginning to spread through the audiophile community with growing momentum. A review in a dominant domestic print publication is pending. SoundStage!'s own and very capable Editor, I'm told, has put in word for an 88/UNO review system as well. More reviewers are chomping on those twin KT-88 tubes. My own formal review will likely trail many of them to introduce new voices and viewpoints to this exciting audio chapter first. All of that should accelerate the AUDIOPAX bandwagon - adjust the tightly focussed spot light of local acclaim to the broader, higher wattage beam of truly international response and comprehensively independent evaluations.
Eduardo's surprising collaboration with Avantgarde-USA, first announced at the last CES, paved the way. CES 2003 will introduce new surprises. Having been repeatedly on the manufacturing side of audio, I was curious. How did Eduardo adjust to the complex demands of suddenly producing an expensive statement product, distributed in North America by a firm of impeccable credentials but presumably equally stringent requirements? Until recently and in Brazil, de Lima was known for and specialized in producing a different class of tubed devices: Highly refined and reliable yet also very affordable. Cosmetics were intentionally upper-crust kit to serve the intended price points.
With my uneducated yet colorful visions -- of a less sophisticated manufacturing infrastructure -- I could well imagine untold challenges that had gripped de Lima in Brazil since. I had last seen him at CES 2002 during the original launch of his production Model 88s.
Have you ever been in manufacturing? You'd appreciate, in intimate and gory detail, all the imaginable as well as shockingly idiotic, unimaginable -- yet clearly grist-for-the-mill -- incidents; delays; mishaps; complex vendor relations; employee issues; parts problems; production gremlins; the plain learning-curve, gotta-go-through-them lessons that manufacturers, of anything, grapple with on a daily basis. Yes, right here, in the very heart of one of the most affluent countries in the world (don't get me started on our foreign politics - affluent and visionary aren't common bed fellows by a long shot).
How much more adaptive and resourceful would one have to be in South America, to pull a perfectly blue-eyed, silver-furred albino rabbit out of one's battered hat?
|Avantgarde TRIOs & AUDIOPAX Model 88s; Avantgarde UNOs & AUDIOPAX Model 88s - if I didn't know better, I'd detect a theme here but these amps work wonderful with regular speakers, too.|
|Okay, I'm hopelessly biased. This is what I listen to myself. How could it be otherwise? Am I gonna buy bad stuff just so you believe me when I say it, er, sucks? Sue me for having a personal opinion in these matters. As a starving writer, you may get some really good CDs out of the deal if you're lucky. Just kidding! Now. Green being the international traffic signal for "Go", let's dispense with these informalities and discover what Eduardo has to report about manufacturing "the world's best amplifiers" -- that's his high-morale working motto -- on the Copa Cabana in Brazil's Rio de Janeiro. Some guys slave away in them really crappy parts of this world, don't they?