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No. 138 November 2015


think we got used to the situation, common in audio world, where many companies try to do SOMETHING out of nothing. Often the only capital owners of such enterprises have is their knowledge and their passion. And a strong hope for a success. History teaches us that in most cases it is simply not enough. Moving from a DIY level to a commercial manufacturer often proves too difficult. Safety measures, repeatability of products, even a commercial packaging – these are some among many challenges each new manufacturer faces. So if a designer (as usually they start such companies) is able to invest some money at the beginning it helps such a business a lot. Because it seems that financial challenges of a new business make any other really insignificant.

Connections are not enough

Until recently a capital for such enterprises was sourced either from a bank, or from family/friends. In most cases two latter groups of people were involved as bank's requirements are hard to meet. There was one more option – a designer could search for someone who'd believe in him and would be interested in investing his/her money into development of a CD Player, amplifier or loudspeakers. Such a commitment wasn't an easy decision as development of the first unit, the prototype cost a lot.

I am familiar with this last solution as my Lektor AIR V-edition CD Player was developed in such a way – I trusted Jarek Waszczyszyn, the owner of Ancient Audio, who offered to develop a better CD Player than his own Prime model. He kept his promise. To be perfectly honest I didn't risk much – I was pretty certain that this was well invested money – before previous versions of Grand and Silver amplifiers were developed in the same way, financed by Janusz, whom you might remember from Cracow Sonic Society meetings. I've been using AIR for 4 years now and only recently did I start to considering replacing it with some even better product.

Affinity group

The 21st Century, or at least its first two decades offered Internet users some new tools. Kickstarter is the most interesting one from our perspective. I am talking about an American Internet service that allows its users to finance different types of projects. People or groups of people who come up with an interesting idea present it to the public hoping to gather capital that will allow them to start a production.

People who decide to support particular project, so called “backers”, are rewarded either with their name being credited on manufacturer's website, or with a product (when its ready) offered to them with a special price or as a special edition units, depending on the amount they supported the project with. As Cezary Kowanda wrote in his article Skarbiec w sieci, until today more than 9 million Kickstarter backers invested over 2 billion $ and both numbers grow quickly (see Cezary Kowanda, Skarbiec w sieci, „Polityka” , 2015, no. 39, p. 46-47). Most of the companies raising money via Kickstarter are from US, as only they are allowed, but where is a demand a supply emerges and one can find already several firms who offer (for a fee obviously) help with registering a new business in US and than raising money through Kickstarter.

„Tone Audio”

One might find there various projects – like shoes, jeans (among others also Polish ones - Crosslifter), but also electronics. Service is divided into 15 areas, each containing groups of projects. Some of them are: Art, Fashion, Food, but also Publishing, Music and Technology. Our Readers had a chance to hear about Kickstarter (if not from other sources) from our News division. You could read there that Jeff Dorgay decided to celebrate 10-th anniversary of his „ToneAUDIO” magazine with a special, printed issue (more HERE It is a costly operation especially for a web based magazine so the Editor in Chief decided to ask for a support (you can find an interview with Jeff Dorgay in our „The Editors” series HERE).

Well, this project initially failed. The targeted amount turned out to be too high, and not enough people were ready to pay 8$ for two issues of the magazine. So Jeff quickly changed his expectations and this time he succeeded. As one can read in project's summary ”New” Get two PRINT issues of TONEAudio! , 588 „backers” contributed 28 431 USD, even more than a target amount. We, Bartek, chief editor of „Music To The People” and me – are among backers - we wait for our copies. This project proves that those who want to succeed not only have to present an interesting product but also have to come up with a right strategy of promoting it.

Line Phono

Among many different, often interesting, sometime just weird projects there are also those that might interest music fans. Most of these involve headphones, but the coolest project I've recently seen is a rack for a turntable and records prepared by Line Phono.

The project is called „Turntable Station – Audio Furniture Solution” and until the moment I write these words it already had raised 7 times more money than initial target which was 10 000 USD. 231 „backers” paid as much as 72 874 USD, and the money kept coming (see HERE and HERE). Take a look at the design and find out for yourself that this is a really good project worth backing it. The Turntable Station is made of MDF, it is supposed to be very easy to assembly (and since it will be delivered for assembly the box containing it shouldn't be big, hence reasonable delivery costs), it looks great and seems to be very functional. It's been a while since I saw such a reasonable, well thought-through project.


You won't find too many audio furniture on Kickstarter though. But you will find a lot of headphones. Which is actually not surprising. Steve Guttenberg in his editorial in October's issue of „Stereophile” points out something that HF mentioned many times before – the “new blood” in audio are young people listening to the music via headphones using their smartphones (Steve Guttenberg, The Next Wave, „Stereophile”, 2015, October, Vol.38, No. 10, p. 3).

And while at the beginning many audio journalist thought that there was no future in listening to low quality, mp3 files, as it turned out they were wrong. Lot of these young people, one day, start looking for a better quality music playback devices. And then... they are ours! As Guttenberg concludes: „From my perspective it is now, that high end audio starts to spread its wings”. Amen to that!

Kickstarter. Among those we can find cans that prevent hearing loss – check project AEGIS. Truebuds are the world smallest cordless Earbuds. There is even a headphone stand - EDGE.


Among many offers two attracted my attention in particular, both coming from the same company: HELIO – in-ear, cordless ones and classic, over-ear ones VARIO, both from Trinity Audio Engineering.

The former should appeal to people who like sport activities. Manufacturer decided to offer them in two versions – with a classic, dynamic driver and with balanced armature. The latter is made with PONO's balanced output in mind. The body is a precision engineered aluminum ergonomic shell. Each ATLAS has splash-proof nano-coating technology protecting them. Each ATLAS comes with 3 detachable cables and 5 different tuning filters. In future also a Bluetooth receiver will be offered. The required amount of money was raised and the production has already been implemented.


  • Balanced Armature + 8mm neodymium dynamic drivers
  • 5 x Interchangeable tuning filter system
  • Impedance 16Ohm
  • Sensitivity 110 +/- 3DB
  • Frequency response 19 – 21000HZ
  • 24ct Gold plated 3.5mm Jack
  • 1.2M & 0.6M Cable with remote & Mic/1.2M Multi-braid cable (non remote/mic)

The other project presented by Trinity are full size over-ear headphones called Vario - “Aluminum and Stainless Steel switchable open and closed back headphone”.

I think that our Readers know very well about all pros and cons of open and close-back cans. Vario are to be different and to offer their user to decided momentarily whether they prefer at particular moment an open or a closed-back cans. Additionally headphones should be delivered with three different types of pads – classic, deep and velour ones. Project has only been released recently and it already gain a lot of people ready to back it up.


  • Drivers: 50 mm
  • Impedance: 42 Ω 
  • Sensitivity: 105 dB,+/-3 dB
  • Frequency range: 19 – 21 000 Hz 
  • Cables: 1,5 m, 3m

Color of money

Even if money can't buy a happiness, it surely can give one a freedom which is a most needed thing. Kickstarter is the biggest crowdfunding platform in the world, but it's not the only one. In Poland we have our and also many other countries have their own „kickstarters”. The existence of such platforms allows many interesting ideas, projects to get attention and support from public and if they do they have a chance to succeed.

There is the other side of this coin too – by definition crowdfunding is an answer for needs of a crowd, a big group of people. Then and only then a required sum of money may be raised. So projects that might, at first, seem crazy, or simply don't look very attractive, but actually could allow whole audio industry to take another step forward, don't really get a chance. A board with lots of crossing cables and different components won't be able to convince anybody to support such project financially. And that's how often the most interesting audio products start, that's how the real quality is born. So after all probably it will be a family and friends support that could allow such project to pass the initial stage so that it could make it to the real audio world.

Wojciech Pacuła

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Our reviewers regularly contribute to  “Enjoy the”, “”“”  and “Hi-Fi Choice & Home Cinema. Edycja Polska” .

"High Fidelity" is a monthly magazine dedicated to high quality sound. It has been published since May 1st, 2004. Up until October 2008, the magazine was called "High Fidelity OnLine", but since November 2008 it has been registered under the new title.

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