EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH ALSYVOX - DANIELE COEN


How it all started?

Somehow the very beginning and the ribbon-planar breakthrough are the consequence of two apparently negative events: the start of my research activity in Audio is the consequence of the theft of the money I had ready to buy my first pair of loudspeakers, this happen when I was still a student. Without enough money to buy what I desired, I stopped and started reading an article written by Prof. Morgan about sound reproduction. In very few words this article said that common stereo systems based on the point source concepts are basically not able to reproduce the music of a concert hall as there the sound is coming from every direction and a point source does not have this complexity. He was appreciating dipoles, line sources and the old Bose 901 system that gave way more reflected sound and better approximated this complexity.

He was also proposing a DIY approach to a dipole line source and this is what fascinated me and absorbed too little money that I still had. After that happened about 36 years ago I developed line sources for the middle-high frequencies in the shape of ribbons and sold them through RES AUDIO from Turin adding woofers made by them to get the low frequencies. When this company ceased the activity I faced the second bad luck situation and I found myself without woofers for my loudspeakers; but having magnets, aluminum conductors and polyester film to make the ribbon tweeters I decided to try the way of making a ribbon-planar woofer. 


When and why did you enter into the high-end audio industry? 

When I first listened to the prototype of loudspeakers using both ribbon mid-tweeter and ribbon-planar woofer I was so strikingly amazed by the speed, dynamic, tonal purity and bass strength that I decided to enter the market with my products. It was definitely a unique sound.


Why the Alsyvox name?

The name is the result of some brainstorming with my business and life partner, my wife Paola and is the full meaning of it is quite personal so we decided not to disclose it, the suffix VOX is clearly related to the Latin word meaning voice.

Any past and present inspirations?

When I was still very young and experimenting with DIY dipoles I listened to Apogee speakers and notwithstanding a few well-known issues, I felt that it was the direction to take.

Do you consider yourself an audiophile? If so what does this exactly mean?

Yes, I have always thought that my attention to the best possible music reproduction made me an audiophile, but I am putting so much attention in it only because I deeply love music.

What would you say is the difference between an audiophile and music lover?

If we need to keep them separate, which is not my case, an audiophile is so much keen on perfect music reproduction that forgets about the music and always listens to 4-5 tracks, on the other hand, the music lover listens to a huge amount of different music and might forget about the quality of the reproduction.


You're an aerospace engineer. Please tell us more about your background.

I started to study aerospace engineering because I dreamed to become an F1 engineer at Ferrari, but along the way, I fell in love with music reproduction and took another route. After graduation, I worked as an industrial designer filing more than 20 patents and later gradually moved to marketing adding some MBA study, but I always kept dedicating an important part of my time to audio research.

Kindly list all the current Alsyvox products?

We offer a range of pure ribbon-planar speakers with a strong family look, technology, and sound. The choice among the different models is not only related to performance and price but mainly to room size. Our small Tintoretto is capable of very similar transparency, realism and frequency range as the big ones, just with a bit less sensitivity, dynamics, and sound stage scale.

The Botticelli model is our middle size and bestseller and the upgrade to Botticelli X brings the performance to a level just below the next model.

Caravaggio is available as a single panel (Single) or double panel (Full) and expandable to the triple panel (Michelangelo). The additional panels are ribbon-planar sub-woofers and are recommended only for really wide listening rooms (a ballroom in the case of Michelangelo)


Please tell us what is the sonic difference between the entry-level Tintoretto and flagship Michelangelo speakers?

Tintoretto offers a beautiful and refined sound reproduction, bigger models add more scale and dynamic capability, even more detail and sound richness. 

Would you say that the Alsyvox DNA is presented across all of the models?

Yes this was our design concept when we created the full offering, the technology is the same so the sound must be similar.

Please tell us more about the particular materials you're using and why?

Our choices are based on minimal time-domain distortion and lively sound. This means heavy and strong frames made of steel, powerful neodymium magnets, solid acrylic, and wood external parts, proprietary isolating feet to keep all structural resonance at the minimum.

You offer a dedicated, outboard crossover. What are the benefits?

External crossovers are an additional part that many music lovers do not like to have, that is why we offer them only as an upgrade or in the bigger models. The benefit of this construction can be found in the ideal isolation of crossover components from mechanical vibrations present inside the loudspeaker and the possibility to use better and bigger components and more complex topology.


They also offer the possibility for small adjustability of the level of midrange and tweeter to better fit room acoustics.

What's special about your crossovers?

All our crossovers are as simple as possible, first-order slopes, and use very high-quality parts by Mundorf, Jantzen, and other famous suppliers. All internal wires are supplied by Omega Audio Concepts. In the case of external crossovers, we add a patent-pending first-order topology (by Omega Audio Concepts) and additional potting is helping with vibration control.

What's your take on exotic electronic and crossover parts? 

They can really add something to the sound but their use in a bad project cannot turn it into a great loudspeaker. We carefully listen to our components as their character is interacting with the transducers and finally select the best given the room available.

Can you tell us more about your unique ribbon-planar woofer drivers? 

Our design is based on the push-pull concept with magnets on both sides of the diaphragm, which allows a more linear and stronger magnetic field, giving low distortion and high sensitivity.

We also added a very long stroke (around 20mm) to reach significant SPL levels at low frequency


How about the mid-Super-tweeter driver?

Our design is integrating the two drivers to keep them so close that it is not possible to hear the crossover frequency as it gives no irregularity in the sound dispersion

How it's possible to reach down at 20 Hz and provide a meaningful bass?

As I said our ribbon-planar can travel with a long excursion and along with the huge surface can create a significant output at very low frequency, even subsonic.

Do you manufacture everything in house? 

We are an artisan company and we make all the most important parts like ribbons and diaphragms in the house. We have selected good suppliers for all the other parts that we get made specifically for us and most of them are in Italy where we find good craftsmanship.

All assembly and testing are done in house.

How important are the measurements?

We do only very simple measurements and leave most of the fine-tuning work to listening. We believe that current technical knowledge and tools cannot explain most of the sound reproduction secrets. Of course, a very bad in-room frequency response or a very bad impedance is not an acceptable starting point.


Part of the reason why we use very limited measurements is that our big dipole line sources give weird measurements in a laboratory with an anechoic chamber, very difficult to read. 

How important is the listening part in the process of designing and finalizing the speakers? 

It is absolutely the most important. We dedicate a lot of time to it and any decision on sizes, components brands, crossover topology and so on is taken after listening.

To make things even more difficult we never listen just in the sweet spot but in every place of the room, sitting or standing up. We look for a coherent energy spectrum radiated in the room more than a  flat frequency response in the listening position.

Does form follow the function with Alsyvox speakers?

100% yes, we decided to keep a look through design to make it even more clear and leave minimal interference with sound waves. The flat shape is given by dipole design. Acrylic was chosen for its excellent acoustic behavior along with aesthetics.

Teak wood profiles are a suggestion of my wife, interior designer, to give a touch of elegance and warmth to every technological design and contribute to the overall sound character.

Would you say that one’s love and passion for music reflect in his products?

Yes, every Hi-End Audio designer I know loves music and does its best to put it into his products.

Do you voice your speakers?

Yes, every pair needs to be voiced after at least 1 week of burn-in, some require small changes to crossover components, some a different tension of the diaphragms. It is often a time-consuming process but we believe it is important to deliver loudspeakers that sound as we like.

Is there such a thing as over transparent speaker?

With our design, we try to get the maximum transparency as we consider the speaker as a layer of air crossed by the sound wave. Of course, transparency is at any frequency, like the speed that is a big part of it, so a transparent speaker shall be able to make strong bass when it is recorded

Do Alsyvox speakers require a heavily acoustically treated listening environment? 

No they (and I) hate them, why should I spend so much money to make a sound and absorb a big part of it? We do not even need significant dispersing surfaces, each reflection is part of the music and does not hurt it.


How do they integrate into ordinary living rooms?

As a consequence of what we said before our dipoles integrate without big problems in any normal room, you can sit very close or very far. A few things must be remembered: the speakers sound in the back exactly as in the front so the same care for radiated sound is needed both sides, a minimum distance from the front wall is needed to recreate bass and image (about 1m minimum, 1.5m better)

In your opinion, how important is the properly designed listening room?

If you aim at the best it is quite important. Symmetry is important, the normal decay time is important (not too much like a church, not too little like a small kitchen), use of non-resonant materials for the surfaces (avoid bare windows, light plywood, metal sheets), nice furniture, carpets, and light curtains will help.

What kind of electronics/amplifiers do you recommend to be used with your speakers?

I use with success both tubes and solid-state. Power rating depends on habits, music and room size, I use from 10W to 100W, sometimes 300-500W but I do not think so much power is needed. Alsyvox speakers are an easy 4Ohm load and can use virtually any amplifier.

How do you see the competition?

Actually, I love competitors with a very different approach, I tend to be friendly with most of them. I think that we all have an important thing in common: our love for music.

What I do not think is that competition helps to get better, we get better because we love what we make not because we want to be better than the competition.


Where do hi-fi stops and high-end comes in?

In my view hi-fi died in the '80, now there is only computer/phone music and High End. High End is our desire to bring the musicians in our customer's living room.

How do you refined, voice and fine-tune your products?

Just listening to as many good and different music tracks.

What is your take on the analog vs digital?

I love analog but I work with digital and most of the time I listen to digital. I need high repeatability, quick track change, and consistency and I cannot get it from my analog system. I think that today we can get digital to a level of quality that can keep us away from analog, but when we go back to analog and it is a very good one, we feel at home.

Solid-state and tubes? Any personal favorite?

I have preferred tubes especially SET for years, but now I can find some solid-state amplifiers that are musical and smooth like tubes with the added impact and control on bass that I like so much

What sets Alsyvox apart from the competition?

We are very different from most of them because a planar is very different from a box and a horn.

Considering the other planars we thing that our high sensitivity, dynamics and pressure capabilities in the bass are quite unique.


Many horn speaker lovers like the transparency and dynamics of our speakers and many box speakers owners do not miss any bass with our speakers, plus we deliver full coherency on the sound spectrum that we believe is absolutely important to make good music

How do you see the current state of the high-end audio industry?

I see that we are losing year after year the lower price market segment.

Apparently, there are fewer and fewer people willing to spend 10-40000€ in a system where the number of people willing to spend 100-400000€ is growing. This growth is in the far east, with the EU and the USA quite constant.

Who are Alsyvox customers? How would you describe them?

Most of them are real music lovers that after owing 10 or 20 high-end systems they fall in love like boys with the music we can deliver. It is a huge pleasure to see people with such a long high-end experience react with so much enthusiasm to our proposal, this is proof that we are really different

Do you feel that classical music is the utmost reference material?

Yes, unluckily not enough used during the shows. 

Only unplugged music can demonstrate the fidelity of a system and classical music can be way more complex than jazz. A quartetto d'archi, a symphony a choir or an opera can tell you a lot, but I understand they are sometimes boring and we need to play very diverse musical material to show how the system behaves.

What does the state of the art high-end audio reproduction mean for Alsyvox?

Quite simply bring the musicians in our home.

Is it possible to achieve a life-like experience that mirrors the real music's impact?

Yes, more easily with simple music made with few instruments or a single voice. What I find really difficult is to recreate the real music dynamics, and not just from the reproduction system side, I include the recording too.


Do you see the high-end audio as a part of the luxury industry?

Not really, I know of several attempts of co-marketing with luxury cars, yachts, watches that gave no result. Luxury needs to be shown with pride, high-end audio is more a matter of culture and private life.

Can you list some of your favorite music and reference tracks? 

The list might be too long... most MA recordings productions, especially Sera Una Noche, many L'oiseau Lyre baroque productions, especially Handel Messiah – Hogwood, La Folia by Paniagua, most Chie Ayado recordings, some song by De Andrè, a live concert by Wende, Misa Criolla with Mercedes Sosa, Fausto Mesolella by Fonè and many Fonè productions, Renaud Garcia-Fons, Jennifer Warnes, most music by Vivaldi, Bach...

What can we expect from Alsyvox in the near future?

Quite stable product range for a while, maybe small internal changes and improvements. We believe in specialization so we do not plan to make anything else than ribbon-planar speakers...unless we get a special new idea

Any last thought for our readers? 

I recommend everybody to spend more time listening to good music, it makes our lives happier.