Interview with Jan Harbo Jakobsen of DAD Blue Cat Danish Audio Design, in which he talks about the inspirations, the technology, and the reasons that drive the DAD team to pursue its vision of high-end audio reproduction.
Where and how it all begins?
Jan Harbo Jakobsen founded Danish Audio Design International in 2017. The reason is a combination of a variety of emotions. The joy of music first of all. It goes back to the time I was a DJ and the love of music grew. Just like so many in my generation, I spend a lot of money on high-end gear. That leads me to one question; Why is high-end audio too expensive? Even when I calculated worker salary, buildings, brand value, etc. I still could not make it add up. That is why I founded Danish Audio Design Int. Music should be less about money and more about feelings, emotions, joy, pain, dance…
My wife, Bitten Jakobsen, and I then decided to establish a unique brand, that in a very short time has become the joy of many.
Would you describe yourself as an audiophile?
I am first of all an innovator with a passion for music. Audiophile is a term, with very little respect around, since the industry seems to call everything high-end for Audiophiles.
Who inspired you (and still does)?
An old friend of mine. He sometimes asked me: “Do you have a window” – yes I said. “Well, then throw out your gear and buy something decent. That was after I had spent many months of my salary on a good amp. A true friend, but he was right! My wife also inspires and comes up with design ideas and our logo.
Why the name DAD Blue Cat?
My Wife Bitten explained to me about the cat’s sense of hearing. Also, The symbol as designed looks a bit like the G-Key in nodes.
Do you produce everything in-house?
Yes, we make everything in-house.
You do not use tubes, only solid state. Why is that?
No tubes! The reason being a long-time experience. Tubes equal a lack of bass dynamics. I like to use huge woofers and many of them. That alone would kill most tube amps. If we build big enough and solid enough with no compromises, the sound then speaks for itself. Like a customer said, “I am a musician, and when I hit the piano hard, like this … It sounds exactly like on my Blue Cat system”! – and that is why I design the amplifiers like they are.
How important is the role of the power supply?
It is an all-important component, overlooked or cut down in cost by many. Ours are handcrafted and built to extremes. Some weigh 77 kg and are winded with air between the windings. To the best of my knowledge, no one else is making that today. It is costly and expensive, but it pays back many times in music reproduction. An example of true data could be in our power supply. When we make a 3.500 KWA transformer, it consists of 9,500 KWA cobber and iron!
What is your approach and what is special about your topology?
Our products must be faster in response time than anything else on the market. That is a very important part of music reproduction; transients and silent moments altogether. On top of that, we add clean authentic sound as a must. We want to get as close to the real deal as possible. It takes that one is willing to go new ways and try extreme components, for example, the capacitors also used in high-speed trains in Japan and the space industry.
Do you think that a balanced topology is a must for the best sound?
No, we only do extreme.
To what extent do you use pure class A in your signal chain? Is AB the ultimate choice?
Class A is not fast. Also, they get hot as hell and do not allow many Watts. If you try to make our “The Only One” putting out 1200Watts, in a class A amp, it will melt down like a small new clear plant. On top of that, use a huge amount of energy, from which you gain nothing.
Many say that the first watt is most important. Is that true?
All Watts are important! Imagine a car with only two horsepower contra 200 or 750 Hp. Would you there say that the first is the important one – kind of a nonsense way to think.
What importance do you place on parts? Is there a need for exotic components, and how do you use them?
Most and pretty much all, are made for us. We do not need to call them exotic; we only try to find the best solutions to all parts. It is the way they come together as a unit that matters. Then people can call them what they want, but the quality we never compromise!
What kind of speakers do you consider state-of-the-art?
“The worst sound in the world can be achieved by the best components available” Words our loudspeaker engineer Torben Mikkelsen.
State-of-the-art loudspeakers are those where drivers, networks, and cabinets come together in a nice balance. Add to that low 3rd. harmonic distortion in all components. Then of cause, to be true to huge instruments, we need a decent cone area.
What would you say sets DAD apart from other manufacturers?
Would you say that your love for music is reflected in the designer’s creations?
The Cat as a G-Key. Our design always has enough space (big enough) for using the right component.
What do you think about high-end audio being part of the luxury industry?
I can’t relate. Our customers come from all layers of society. Just like myself in my younger years, I spent money on expensive gear, not because it was luxury, but because I liked music. I hope it is the same today.
Where is the line between luxury and quality?
Things can be luxurious, without having quality. These two are not necessarily connected. We aim for quality – always.
There is the hi-fi, high-end, and the ultra-high-end. What is the difference?
The sound – I hope.
Are high prices a must?
No, that is why we keep them as low as possible. Having said that, low distortion components and high-quality power does not come from nothing. We try our best to keep the prices as low as possible because we prefer that as many as possible get a chance to experience just how good music can sound.
Classical music or music recorded in the studio as reference music?
A truly great sound system should be able to play anything authentically. We do not release a product, there does not live up to that standard.
Digital or analog?
We understand the way of convenient access to music through streaming, but let us step back a second and think …
Analog is the real thing. Digital is a processed signal. What we have achieved is to make the digital sound come back to a more analog nature. We do it without trying to camouflage the sound but by building it right.
Where is the fine line between resolution, transparency, and musicality?
Instead of thinking “we like musicality, so we just lower the high-mid area”, we say let’s build it on low loss low distortion components and make it somewhat over-dimensioned. Only that way do you get them all, resolution, transparency, and musicality.
How do you tune your products or what is your specific goal in creating the DAD sound signature?
It is to have absolutely no signature. The sound coming out should be the same as what you put in!
What do you base the development of your products on?
Crazy ideas. I do what comes to mind. If it takes extremes, so be it. If it can not be done, we find a way.
Does form follow function at DAD?
Simple, easy to use, and reliable. That goes for both design and functionality.
How important is the room acoustic to exploit the full potential of DAD products?
In our new design of loudspeakers, we overcome most of the known room-dependent theories. On top of that, we now have a portfolio big enough for any room, big or small, hard or soft interior. The room will always play a role, but what we discovered was that a correctly designed loudspeaker, actually plays well in any room and do it with the acoustics available – not as a bad thing, but just a little “spice”.
Would you say that high quality is more affordable today or that you have to pay a higher price for the best components and sound?
I think prices for so-called high-end today, are much higher than back in the day. That is why we try our very best to make the best possible sound with today’s tech, without the prices going sky high. We do not charge 1.000.00 Euro for any of our components.
Who would you say are the typical DAD customers?
Everyone who truly likes music. Our customers are from all places in society.
What can we expect from DAD in the future?
What we know right now is, that we carry on our mission to support people with an honest love for music, and even customize it to what they dream of.
Do you have any final thoughts for our readers?
Think about this; how many times, did you buy sound systems in your life? If you are, perhaps not as old as I, but have let’s say life experience, chances are it sums up. By right the first time, safe money and have better sound your whole life.
In a family, everyone listens to loudspeakers. They are in your phone, your radio, your car, and so on. Why not make it a quality experience for everyone, the wife, the kids, and your guests. Use the sound system for movies, music, and concerts.
Danish Audio Design International; the Bluecat team.
Danish Audio Design International ApS
Diagonalvejen 48, 7323 Give, Denmark
Phone: +45 3086 2111
You are welcome in our showroom by appointment. Do you arrive from abroad, we can accommodate you.
The Bluecat team
Danish Audio Design International ApS
Alexander Schmidth – Sales Manager
Phone: +36 7063 777 01
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