August 6, 2010

10 Qs For Robert Suchy, President Of Clearaudio.

Clearaudio's President, Robert Suchy.

I grabbed the opportunity to talk to Robert Suchy(pronounced Sukee), President and 2nd generation management of Clearaudio, the leading analog and one the largest turn table manufacturers of the world today!

I got John, boss of CMY to set me up for the Q & A session, hopefully to provide some insight in to the philosophy and ticking's of the company. Let's start!

Big E: Welcome to Malaysia, is this your first time here?

RS: Yes, and I am already starting to like Kuala Lumpur.

Big E: Tell us a little more about Clearaudio please?

RS: My father, Peter Suchy started Clearaudio in the late 70's to manufacture speakers of time phase coherent design, do you believe that? Time phase coherent designs were considered well ahead of their time in those days. After all these years, we still get request to build a pair every now and then, mostly for the European markets. With the advanced speaker design, it quickly dawned on my father that another area needs to be seriously addressed, which is the source! At the time, the only credible source we had was the turn table, and my father started at the very beginning of the audio signal, the cartridge. It was from there that we then started to work on turn tables much later. Clearaudio is a family business and the second generation of Suchys, like me have joined in. Over the years, Clearaudio have remained focus in the analog market, we never thought about abandoning vinyl, even when at a time, CDs became the dominant music format.

Big E: Do you think the present vinyl revival would last all the way, or is it just a passing trend?

RS: I think most people who love music has come to realised, that there's no better way to appreciated music then thru the vinyl format. If you'd ask me this question 2 years ago, I would not be so sure, but now, I am very convinced that the vinyl format will stay for a long, long time!

Big E: Despite the fact that Hi-rez downloads are fast out selling physical music formats now and for a fore see able future?

RS: Yes, Hi-rez is very attractive as a format of convenience and will continue to evolve, but vinyl will still be the format of choice, if one values the most natural musical reproduction qualities.

Big E: I've listened to the Clearaudio "Statement" turn table before, and it's wildly impressive. What motivated you guys to come up with something like the "Statement"?

RS: After the success of the "Master Reference" turn table, both me and my brother, Patrick wanted to do something more radical, that would push the performance boundaries of analog reproduction at the time. Our father was actually horrified at the project, concerned about who would buy? can we turn a profit? from such an insanely expensive product. We persevered and after nearly 3 years of development work, and 21 test prototypes later, we finalised the design of what would be called the "Statement".

Big E: So how many "Statement"s have you sold till date? Has the project turned profitable yet?

RS: We sold 72 "Statement"s world wide till this day, but we have not made a profit on the product just yet. But I am glad we did it any way, because we could apply what we learned from the project and trickle down in to the lower models in the product line up. The "Statement" also raised Clearaudio's profile, in the market place, which is something we considered invaluable.

Big E: What parts of the "Statement" got trickle down to the lower models in the product line up?

RS: The "Statement" model thought us new ways to use materials, and new materials, re-examine in to every aspect of turn table design. The result you see is the new range of current Tangential tone arms,OSC(Optical Speed Control) DC motors, the CMB bearings for platter and tone arms, and a new synthetic vinyl like material called POM(Poly Oxy Methylene) for platers. By the way, talking about materials, did you know our Goldfinger cartridge's body is actually made of real 24K gold?

Big E: Really? I thought it's just gold coating! Does that mean Titanium cartridge body made using titanium metal? And the Stradivari cartridge, which my cartridge of choice by the way, uses real ebony wood, and not wood coatings?

RS: Yes, real gold for Goldfinger and real titanium for Titanium cartridges. As for your Stradivari, we only used wood coatings. Ha!Ha!.... No, I am just joking, we use real sustainable grade ebony wood for the Stradivari cartridge.

Big E: Tell me, how much of the "Statement" which cost like 100 times the price of the latest entry level "Concept" is filtered down to, in terms of technology?

RS: Technology from "Statement" trickled down to the "Concept"?(I answered YES!) That would be about 10%. The "Concept" turn table is about plug & play convenience, for people who appreciate the vinyl format's sound quality but do not want the hassles of vinyl set up. We do it all at the factory for you.
Robert doing the work shop demo with the Master Reference turn table at the CMY Audio & Visual room during the KLIAV 2010 show. The event was entertaining and fun to say the least if not educational on turn table set up methods, the Clearaudio way.

Big E: Some of my friends are a little confused by all the product lines in the Clearaudio turn table catalog. For them there seems to be too many products overlapping one another. Can you elaborate for their benefit?

RS: I don't think we have a big and confusing product line. It starts with the "Statement" on the top, then we have the Avantgarde and Champion lines, plus the Solution line, which all are up grade able by the way. This is followed by the Emotion and the more sophisticated Performance lines. Lastly, we have the Anniversary Specials. We have many models to cater to our very diverse markets. Certain models do very well in certain markets and others sell everywhere.

At this point, Robert goes on to tell me about Clearaudio's new products you can expect within the next 12 months or so. They include an entry level MC cartridge of new design. Robert also talked about a new super high end phono stage of full balance design, with various EQ and custom ed curves, plus it could also accommodate up to three tone arms, but yet quite like nothing the market has ever seen before. "It's gonna take on the likes of Boulder 2008 phono stage class of products" he said.

I wish to thank John of CMY Audio & Visual for making this session possible.


GCK said...

I can't afford a Statement TT, all I can afford is the Statement Record Clamp :-)

Big E said...


No worries, most of us mere mortals can't either. But I am looking forwad to try out the Inovation Compact!