We Ask 10 Questions For High-End
During Enjoy the Music.com's very special 25th Anniversary we're asking various high-end audio manufacturers to answer the same ten questions. Their answers may surprise you! This month we're featuring Peter Qvortrup of Audio Note UK. Audio Note UK manufacturers some of the finest domestic audio reproduction equipment money can buy, using the best available technology and the finest components. They are one of the largest European manufacturers of ultra-performance valve-based audio equipment, with a world wide distribution network. Manufacturing is done mainly in-house within England, including winding their own transformers and foil capacitors.
Peter Qvortrup (left) with Arthur Loesch
Question: What is your first memory of falling in love with music?
Answer: Sitting on my Dad's lap at the age or perhaps 4 or 5 and listening to Beethoven and Tchaikovsky before going to bed, this would have been in 1954 or 1955 when I was 4, 5 years old.
Q: How did you first get introduced to high-fidelity audio gear?
A: My Dad had a very good system, corner speaker, mono of course, there was no stereo until later, a Telefunken mono tape deck and a Philips amplifier, he bought all this in 1951 when I was a year old, so I had no idea that it was "high fidelity" until much much later.
Q: What is your favorite piece of vintage hi-fi, and why?
A: Hmmm, now that is a really hard question, as I have over the years owned almost everything, from WE 16As to Lowther Voigt corner horns, JBL Hartsfield (pictured above), Quad ESL57 and all sorts of other vintage speakers, amps etc. I think my favourite would have to be the late 1930s Voigt corner horns with field coil magnets, depending on how you define vintage of course!
If you define vintage as 35 to 40 years old, then the Snell Type A/III would be my choice.
Q: When did you decide to start a high-end audio company?
A: When they let me out of the asylum in 1978, I worked for Maersk, the large Danish shipping company as a broker after dropping out of university, I started as a distributor/retailer in Copenhagen that year, I moved to the UK in 1983/84 and started Audio Innovations.
Q: What, and when, was your company's first product?
A: The first manufactured product I launched was the Audio Innovations Series 800 pre-power amplifier combination, which at £800 UK retail was the cheapest valve amplifiers on the market.
Q: What challenges did you face during those early years?
A: Pretty much everything, as is mostly the case when you first start, but finding a decent supplier of output transformers was a real problem and probably the most consistently problematic.
Q: How have your products evolved over the years?
A: How long have you got? I could write a book on that question alone, in the early days we only made amplifiers, pre- and power, but over the years it became clear to me that partnering with other manufacturers does not in the longer run create the synergy I was looking for, so a major effort has been expended over the past 25 years to research and develop a deep understanding of what it required to create synergy between different parts of the system to ensure the signal flows through with minimal interference (read here added artifacts) and losses.
I reverse engineered Peter Snell's smaller speakers, the K, J and E, bought the designs of the three motor Voyd and Systemdek II and IIx turntables as all of these had complimentary behavior and sound to how I feel music should sound.
The past 10 years we have been focused on developing better sounding parts, resistors and electrolytic capacitors primarily but also ventured into redesigning the 211 and 300B using better sounding materials and processes.
Q: What is your company's most popular product(s)?
A: The MEISHU integrated amplifier, we have sold close to 5000 pieces of the original model over 25 years, it was replaced by the MEISHU Tonmeister mid 2019.
Q: What is your next planned product offering and its' features?
A: Well, we have several project being finalized, a revolutionary belt drive CD transport, a discrete MaSC DAC, a Field Coil version of the AN-E, the Legend amplifier project and the TT Three Half Reference and redesigned AN-1s arm, to name the main projects.
Q: What advancements do you speculate high-end audio will offer ten years from now?
A: Now this is going to be controversial given that in my view pretty much all the development in digital and elsewhere has resulted in a gradual but marked decline in sound quality as the chase for higher and higher numbers combined with the advent of streaming and virtual music storage has caused fidelity to plummet to ever new lows.
The rise of analogue and the sales of LPs I giving me hope that the decline in sound quality will be halted and reversed.
Thank you Peter, we truly appreciate you taking part in our 10 Questions article.
Peter Qvortrup: My pleasure!
Below is a video Enjoy the Music.com's Creative Director Steven R. Rochlin did with Peter back in 2014.
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