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Author Topic: boutique preamps mission statement  (Read 8281 times)

danickstr

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boutique preamps mission statement
« on: January 07, 2007, 12:20:57 am »

When a small company sets out to make a boutique preamp, what are the main criteria that come into play?  I thought this might be a relevant question to ask in this forum althoughI would like to think that the answer would be similar throughout the small custom high-end box manufacturer line.  Any thoughts from any commentators that would have any experience inthis arena?
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Oliver Archut

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Re: boutique preamps mission statement
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2007, 10:01:52 pm »

 Hello Dan,

quite a nice question you have there and it is difficult to answer all the aspects for me starting my own company about 11 years ago.

First of all I do not like the term "boutique" because I see myself as a small independent manufacture and independent means I do not rely on the market if the flavor of the month should change, so I can offer products that are quite unique in the current market place. Biggest downfall of most of the so called boutique audio companies is that they are cool for a period of time, but as soon they try to grow and enter the market with medium or low range products (that are needed to grow) the flair of the specialty is gone.

One reason why I started my own repair shop was because I was sick of working for small (audio) companies, after I came to the US about 15 years ago I worked for several small custom and boutique shops; aside that most owners want to be cool dealing with "Rockstars and the like" getting a regular paycheck was quite rare.
On the other hand I was also sick working for big companies (spent several years at the AEG-Daimler-Benz formally known as AEG-Telefunken) because of the "Idiot Save Environment" that took over the large companies in the late 80s/early 90s. What was and still is one of the biggest problems of our times, that poisons so many work environments.

After over ten years of being my own boss I mostly do design and OEM work for small audio companies as well as big industrial companies, the original products and repair part is just what I like best but also the most difficult to upkeep.
As I said there is so much crap out there, for the price of one of my V72S you can pick up today an entire studio in places like "Guitar Center" and similar ones.
In my view the contemporary music is reflected in this over the top multi media spectacle (mass instead of class, 54 channels so you can mic even the drummers chair) and the essence is getting lost. So many audio production today would have been rejected 20 and 30 years ago due to the whimpy audio quality.
A good craftsman does needs good tools...

So to put it in a nut shell, my products reflect my personal idea of what good audio should be, regardless if they meet the latest market research....

Best regards,
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Rick Sutton

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Re: boutique preamps mission statement
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2007, 12:09:38 am »

Oliver Archut wrote on Sun, 07 January 2007 19:01

 for the price of one of my V72S you can pick up today an entire studio in places like "Guitar Center" and similar ones.



I wouldn't trade my V72S for a hundred of the "studios in a box". I mean that in all sincerity.
I know that it is not easy to run a small audio manufacturing company and I really appreciate that products made with such care are available to working class engineers like myself.
Just spent another day using the V72S on drum overheads with Innertube modded 87's and my appreciation for the small independent audio companies grows with each session.
Many thanks, Rick
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danickstr

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Re: boutique preamps mission statement
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2007, 12:27:21 am »

I guess I have misunderstood boutique as a term, as I thought it just meant small shop.  But thanks for schooling me WRT audio anyway.  I am not sure what is meant by Idiot save environment.  Maybe yo could explain that.  Based on what you like I don't think that any other criteria than making somethign the way you want it is really necessary.  Making it sound good was never meant to be a cost-basis venture, but tell that to banjo shack.
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Oliver Archut

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Re: boutique preamps mission statement
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2007, 11:41:30 pm »


Hello Dan,

the are lots of small audio companies that call themselves Boutique as I said I see it a bit different.

Idiot Proof Environment? Before the time of low cost labor, helping hand an temporary workers, most companies had high qualified personal that could master nearly any situation. The price for this very flexible company were the training and upkeep as well as the high paycheck cost for skilled labor like that.
End of the 80s and early 90s, most of the older guys were let go or sent into early retirement to save cost, and the senior staff was replaced with step by step production manuals that even none experience hired help could get the need job done.

So in a sense it is an idiot proof environment were thinking is not required and the complexity is reduced to maybe pre assembled components (by a robot) that need to be connect via a Molex connecter.
That might reduce cost but the working environment is shrunk down to the fast food production line....

Even it saved money the complexity as well as variety is gone and as a highly skilled technician it is very difficult to work in situations like that.

Best regards,
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Oliver Archut
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maxdimario

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Re: boutique preamps mission statement
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2007, 09:45:08 pm »

Boutique makes me think of handbags..

forget about 'boutique' anything, as usually they spend more time money on the box and the knobs than on the sound..

QUALITY is what small manufacturers can offer.
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Brian Kehew

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Re: boutique preamps mission statement
« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2007, 07:24:42 am »

I think of these proprietors as being people who are AWARE of a specific "need" in the world. They see a product that could be useful, and hope there are enough customers that also see the need.

Usually, this results in high-quality products (rather than cheap ones!). The products are often a result of the designer's innovative concepts, or they utilize ideas from older designs that are hard to find or expensive.
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Brian Kehew

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Re: boutique preamps mission statement
« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2007, 07:27:41 am »

To answer your question more directly:

When I see mic pre's: I see both extreme flatness/clarity/purity as one goal direction, and nice coloration as the other.

(I suppose you could talk about other features - gain, variable impedance, remote mute, polarity, sensitivity, etc. but mainly people want pure sound vs. colored sound.)

They would, of course, weigh the differences to products already on the market, and COST, quality of construction, power supplies, package (rack vs standalone) etc.
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danickstr

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Re: boutique preamps mission statement
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2007, 11:03:15 pm »

to be honest fellas I was trying to give Oliver a chance to tell us how great his stuff is, but in an informative way.  But thanks for the answers anyway.... Very Happy

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Oliver Archut

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Re: boutique preamps mission statement
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2007, 12:58:18 am »

Words are quite cheap in this multi media world and as I said before I do not want to take this forum as a platform to sell my stuff.
I enjoy what I am doing and getting feedback from people that spend their hard earned cash and maybe sometimes CC limit and buy my stuff is quite an compliment.
I enjoy what I am doing and so are most small companies owners that I know. Why and what your/the companies owner goal is does not really matter as long the customer gets something out of the end product.

So many times I hear the phrase "Best mic pre ever", "the ultimate recording tool", those ones are only punch lines for marketing guys.
In my opinion there is no "best" or the only "one" you need...
It is a matter of opinion, and I am always nicely surprised when I get feedback and product owner tell me what or better how they utilize the stuff that I built!

But thanks for the chance to blow my horn....

Best regards,

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Oliver Archut
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danickstr

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Re: boutique preamps mission statement
« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2007, 02:11:37 am »

why is it that the guys you want to listen to don't always want to blow their own horn, and the guys you want to shut up just keep yammering?  take myself for example.... Laughing
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Nick Dellos - MCPE  

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Brian Kehew

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Re: boutique preamps mission statement
« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2007, 07:20:19 am »

It's also good to point out that this business sometimes creates people with a taste for quality and excess $$.

They do not hesitate to buy something of higher quality, and this market allows some of the manufacturers to build to a very high level of quality.
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danickstr

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Re: boutique preamps mission statement
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2007, 12:29:36 pm »

I am all for quality.

I would rather eat a cheap burrito dinner (still can be good) for a month and buy a fantastic pre than eat out and end up with a (insert your least favorite mid level manufacturer here).  

I am always fascinated by guys like Oliver saying that to create the ultimate is not possible, but then when I look and listen to their goods it seems that they are close.  And not just Oliver's stuff, but his contemporaries as well.

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