Artisan story goes on
Franco Serblin needs no introduction. He was one of the few true audio artisans who could seamlessly close the unthinkable gap between the technology and art in the service of music. And in true Italian way. With his genius vision in the form of timeless design ability he brought many people into the world of high-end and music that would normally never step into this wonderful universe of music. Let it be his appeal for design or sense of aesthetics combined with traditional wood craftsmanship, his work and heritage left behind made him already at his world presence a true living legend. His contribution to high end goes beyond audio as he managed to inspire so many and in high-end audio both listeners and manufacturers.
With the sad news of Franco passing this year many wondered and ask me what would happen to the company. This is the reason we organized the meeting for the report. With Igor Kante of Vklop-Ubiq who knew Franco very good from the early Sonus Faber years, and who Franco really loved, we hit the road toward the sunny and beautiful Vicenza.
Franco Serblin son in law awaited us at the new factory building. He’s the mastermind behind Laboratorium and the man who took the task of preserving Franco’s legacy and family business. Even at the times when Franco was present Massimiliano was already in charged of whole production and company operations for building Accordo and Ktema speakers. If you’ve ever looked closely on both speakers models, there was always a small description on them noting: “Manufactured under the license of Franco Serblin by Laboratorium”.
In this way Franco Serblin already ensured the safe path for future.
With Franco Serblin passing away everybody wondered about the spirit of Franco and his company existence. Let me assure you; there is no better person on the planet to carry on the brand unmatched legacy then Massimiliano. I’m working with people all my life and my intuition rarely fails me. Massimiliano not only took his part of carrying on Franco legacy seriously from the business perspective, but by hearth. In Italy family means everything. It’s a matter of culture. Tears came to his eyes repeatedly when we talked about Serblin his time together and work.
Franco Serblin Company was started from the ground, as a true artisan workshop and it remained as such. Everything stayed the same. Subcontractors, the building process, building materials, handwork, hand assembly etc. Once you learn a thing or two about speaker design it’s instantly become clear speakers like Accordo and Ktema can only be manufactured in Italy and only by persons of true passion for woodwork. Its in Italian blood.
For Massimiliano the keeping of artisan production unchanged is the most important thing and life vision. Like from the first models of Accordo and Ktema he assembly each speakers alone. Yes, alone! Checking each part quality, screwing the parts, measuring, packing etc. Even the soldering, which is done in point-to-point fashion is done by him sole. He wants to keep it perfect and by doing it personally it is the only way to control the quality and outcome. I saw the man’s passion and dedication and it won my hearth very quickly. In this an age you rarely see this kind of efforts to build and ensure the production of a true “slow” hand work. No rush, no panic. Like with Japanese Katana sword making; a process of building itself is an art and a matter of pride. It further reminded me of the process of high-end watch assembly or one of the kinds Hermes dedication for their perfection of hand work. Just for example. It takes a whole day to assemble Ktema’s.
You’ll see from the pictures that only selected materials are used and everything in factory space is organized very nicely an on hand. Woods used as a part of speakers are left for at least two months once arrived to be dried up and ready to use. And even then they’re once again checked and rejected if not to the standard.
There were numerous Accordo enclosures waiting for assembly at the factory. You can see from the pictures that the finish is new. It’s called Accordo Grey and it will be approximately 1000 euros more expensive then walnut version. It’s not only the finish that is different. Accordo Grey is multi layered hardwood and made of 1 mm layers of multi layered hardwood. This gives certain rigidity and a sound. The new Gray color is done in mirror like finish with twelve layers of hand brushed and polish. Result is eye catching and with premium feel. For example Franco Serblin Ktema black piano finish carries the similar twelve-layer finish, but with Ktema it’s done by piano company.
Franco last wish was to produce speakers for everybody. To make and affordable artisan speaker for people. Not only that, he wanted to give music also to those in pain in illness. He deeply understood the potency of music as realized in last years by science. Music can have a healing potential and its appeal is not only pleasing, but emotionally en-charged. For that he asked Massimiliano to make this project happen.
There are few projects in the future pipelines, but first one to come in a good year is a two-way floor-stander. This speaker will be even more affordable then Accordo and it’s the one, which Franco wanted to reach more people as mentioned above. Nothing will be done half way with this new third speaker. Same quality parts and hand assembly, just in the respect of Franco last whishes.
Massimiliano was a perfect host. His energy and openhearted nature won me over. We finished our meeting by the perfect Italian lunch on the top of the evergreen hills. There is no place like Italy and even food taste differently, in better way. We talked about things generally and especially where high-end industry is going. Time passed to quickly in great company. Review on new Grey Accordo was set and I’ll report more in due time.
For me the visit it only deepened my respect for Franco Serblin as person and now as brand to be carried on. There is no other person on the planet that can push on the legacy preserved as imagined by master himself, but Massimiliano. He’s the man of true passion and dedication, a family man with the deepest respect for masterwork left untouched and presented as such.
With the late happening in high-end audio where everything get fast forward and measured by the numbers Franco Serblin speakers remains built by hand, passion, heart and real people!
Once you experience the brand and man behindas such, it’s hard not to hanker after the products as Accordo and Ktema even more.
Text and pictures: Matej Isak
Matej Isak. Mono and Stereo ultra high end audio magazine. All rights reserved. 2006-2013. www.monoandstereo.com. ..:: None of the original text, pictures, that were taken by me, links or my original files can be re-printed or used in any way without prior permission! ::..