August 15, 2010

10 Qs For Ron Stimpson, President/CEO Of SVS Sound.

Ron Stimpson, the SVS Sound man and his products, the SVS PC-13 Ultra sub woofer, and the prototype soon to be on sale 7.1 multi chanel power amp.

I was in to the last legs of my KLIAV 2010 show, where I visited the SVS Sound room on level 4. Maxx Audio Visual is local authorised dealer for SVS Sound products. As I was in the room I met Ron Stimpson who was busy calibrating the 7.1 HT set up. I was very impressed with the sonic difference post calibration. I knew I just had to talk to Ron.

Big E: I thought SVS Sound is a sub woofer specialist? I see more than SVS sub woofers in this room.

RS: We started with out with our cylinder sub woofer designs, which from there we branched out in to the regular cube sub woofer designs. Many of our customer who bought our subs, have requested us to start a line of speakers to match their sub woofers. That's why you see more than sub woofers!

Big E: But I also see electronics? Tell me more?

RS: As our powered/active sub woofers had plate amps inside to power them, it was something that progressed naturally. It all started with some of the plate amp modules in our cylinder sub woofers suffering warranty claims at a rate of 5%. Not a lot, but enough to warrant our attention. Our original 500W plate amps were built in Canada and we just could not accept the 5% field failure rate. So we went about looking for a suitable supplier, and that just opened up so many options for us. We eventually found a supplier in Taiwan to build us 800W plate amps which are more reliable, and come with DSP features, for easier integration with customer's home and systems.
Left: The previous 500W plate amp module for the cylinder sub woofers. Right: The latest 800W plate amp, built in Taiwan for better reliability and feature sets.

Big E: That lead to the multi chanel amp that we see here?

RS: Yes, in our quest for a better plate amp, we came across the B&O ICE Power 7.1 module, which is made in Malaysia by the way. We were impressed by the B&O ICE Power module and decided to build a product around it. We had to design an input board, and a thermal controlled fan based cooling system to improve the performance of the B&O ICE Power module.

Big E: I am familiar with the B&O ICE Power modules, many class D amplification products use them, and they are pretty good, sound quality wise. They are also very cool running amp modules, why do you need a cooling system in the amp?

RS: But NOT this module, this is the latest ICE Power module, and we're proudly the first manufacturer to use it. It's a new generation design and is quite different from what you've experienced before. Go on, touch the heat sink.

Big E: It's relatively warm, Hmm...........?

RS: See, that's why it needs a cooling system! The new 7.1 ICE Power module design just runs warm, but still we felt that a thermal controlled fan based cooling system keeps it's operating temperature optimum, for best results.

Big E: But I did not see amplifiers in your product profile on the SVS Sound web site?

RS: Very observant! This is our new soon to be launched product line. You are listening to the demo prototype. We bring this to a few shows to gauge customer's response, which have been very encouraging. When I go back to our factory later, we'll finalise production planning details and you could see this amplifier in market, before the year's end, I think.
The internals of the soon to be on sale 7.1 multi chanel amp. Watch out! It's gonna be a HOT seller.

Big E: What else are you planning to sell us in the future, new products that is?

RS: We are also developing a new in-wall speaker range, which I promise you to deliver good meaty sound. In wall speakers are not new in the market place, but most them sounds like tin cans, in other words, crap! I know there's a market for them, because a home theater install typically involves the family, and many ladies of the house do not like to see speakers all over the living room.

Big E: How are you going to differentiate your in wall speakers from others already out there in the market place?

RS: Good question. Our in wall speakers are chambered design, so it's actually more like a box built in to a wall. Most homes in the US are dry wall(wooden wall panels), so installing flush mount in wall speakers is easy. On the other hand, I understand Malaysian and most Asian homes are brick wall, so installing may prove more challenging. But in fact, our in wall speakers are only about 2 or 3 inches deep, and the design also incorporated a picture frame like surround, which makes it easier just to hang the in wall speakers, just like an art, or painting. And to complete the illusion, we have a series of art works to choose from, to fit the customer's home decor theme. The art work covers are sonically transparent and will not effect the speaker's output by much.

Big E: Most of your products are built in China to offer great performance and outstanding value. Any of your product range is built in US?

RS: You're right! Most of our products are built in our own China factory, which is really a duplicate facility of what we have in Ohio. We have a few key staff posted in the China factory to make sure quality and specifications are kept to our standards. We make products in China is because over the years, the country has built up an impressive support industry to make loud speakers. It just makes more sense to have a factory there, to minimise un necessary logistics, which some of the savings, can be passed on to our customers. At the moment, only our high end range of cylinder sub woofers are built in Ohio. We may consider building more product lines in Ohio sometime in the future.

Big E: How can SVS Sound offer so much sound performance for value conscious buyers?

RS: We try to keep our cost in the actual product as much as possible, materially speaking. Other un necessary cost like logistics and supply chain are kept to the minimum possible. For example, Maxx Audio-Visual is the Malaysian distributor. Only Maxx stands between you, the customer here, and me in the US. Can you tell me how many audio brands do that? Most would have at least three levels of distribution, before the merchandise ends up in the customer's hand. I can tell you that there's also an extra mark up each time a product goes thru more levels of distribution. That's how we keep our product prices affordable, yet offering serious performance for the money.

Big E: Thanks for your time Ron, for allowing us to get to know you, your company and your products better.

After that brief chat, I hang around the room to sample more of that capable SVS Sound AV system capabilities.

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