Interview

Roberto Barletta – Xavian

 

In the first part of our series „Icons of the Czech Hi-Fi“ let us present a real icon of the branch; an owner of a successful Czech brand of loudspeakers Xavian, Roberto Barletta. Have a pleasant read.
Roberto, how did it all start?
Back in Italy I was designing amplifiers and speaker systems for five years. In Torino, where I was born, I met my future wife from Prague in 1993. In half a year I made up my mind to make a big life change, to move to Prague. Of course I soon began to miss my profession and I would dream about making my own loudspeaker systems. Back then life in Prague was quite different and it was difficult to get the right materials and appropriate providers. I remember demanding production of wooden baffle-boards with fourteen various companies but the models were always unsatisfactory. I quickly realised I need my own cabinet-making and become independent regarding majority of components. At the beginning I did everything on my own in a basement in Vinohrady. To add to the complicated start, there was even a big night robbery of my equipment. For my “one man band” it was tough to overcome this accident. But as usual hope and inner strength can lift even the heaviest obstacles on your way.
Was there someone who inspired you or showed you direction most back in Italy?
I was mostly influenced during my childhood on part of my mother´s family. All my uncles were musicians; a drummer, a singer, a guitarist and a trombone player. I spent more time with them rather than my parents and that surely directed me towards love for music, to musicalness and a necessity of quality listening of music. When I was fourteen I began to build my first sound system based on English project. Then came various amplifiers and naturally studies of electronics. I was left with a deep impression by an Italian constructor Aloia famous for his amplifiers with a low sound feedback and five-zone speakers.
How did you perceive the change of life space when you moved to Prague?
In 1993 I was 23. I was inexperienced, spoke no Czech at all, the beginning was hence really tough, especially from a social point of view. As my Italian friends forecasted, I soon began to miss buffalo mozzarella, espresso, sun and human touch. Prague was quite different back then. The life rhythm was kind of slower and Vinohrady had own special charm. I would appreciate time and space to think which I missed back in Italy. I was fascinated by Czech sense for systematic thinking and order. Building my own “habitat” took about seven years; that meant friends, place I like to have coffee or dinner, place I live in as such and contacts of all kinds (car mechanics, where I shop for groceries, where I enjoy culture etc.).
How do you perceive Czech and world market since Xavian began to produce first prototypes until today? What do you think is the main difference?

Czech market is prudishly conservative. Only in past five years the social taste began to accept non-standard produce and certain level of extravagance. I still miss a sense of elegance and easiness. Nevertheless domestic market is certainly very important for we won the highest price for the product of a year and most popular product several times. In fifteen years we got thousands of satisfied customers that we very much appreciate. Abroad the popularity where we export Xavian produce is really surprising; for example in Southern Korea, that is our strongest business partner. A country that loves classical music and its market is ruled by all kinds of world brands and produce created a very strong relation towards Xavian. Today the market is over flooded by Chinese produce I consider contemporary Xavian position on the market a real business market and personal satisfaction.
How would you define Xavian´s mission? Usually nice things are made carrying a certain mission.
From the beginning I wanted to make classical sound systems. Although Italy is a country of design, but any modern design is based on classical elements. Classical can overcome fashion and trends. A sound system done with precision and crafting skills can become an element of home interior a value of which remains constant. In other words I always wanted to create something of a value and certain beauty. A beautiful sound system should give a wonderful sound. The dilemma is a definition of beautiful reproduction. Each of us perceives music differently; moreover there are tens of music genres. I like systems that almost want to sing themselves. The word that best describes the ability is musicalness.  
What are your favourite brands?
I like trademarks of smaller family-like origin with tradition. For example Panerai watch, Armani glasses, Maserati cars, Garofalo pasta, Poltrona Frau leather seats… As you can see, I am a patriot. But when you are born in a country where since early childhood he is brought up with a sense for esthetics (only in the Czech republic I realized what is for example catholic mass from a point of view of colors, music, rituals and symbols), you can perceive only certain forms, lines and characters that are in harmony with what you remember from childhood.
Xavian is now perceived by the Czech public as top brand in Hi-Fi segment. How does that compare to a world perspective? Is it heard to get a reputation on a world market?

From the beginning we appreciated manual production. It can give the produce a character and in a way also spirit. Even the most quality instruments are still hand made. Therefore our systems cannot be placed into lower price levels. Yet I believe that in comparison with bigger foreign brands the ratio between price and effect is amazing. To get on a foreign market is a question of a quality distributor. In general it is of course very hard. Classical adverts of promotion make little sense in our segment; in a certain magazine I read that there are about six hundred various brands at the moment! It is best to prove our customers the virtuosity of our models and let them listen to their favourite compositions.

In how many countries can you buy Xavian now?
Officially we are represented in fifteen countries all across the world; but I believe we sold our produce to every corner of the world including Alaska, New Zealand, South African Republic, Canada, USA and others.

How was the response to the last exposition in Prague? You had beautiful  costumes and introduced a new model Preludio.

Reactions on part of the visitors were very positive; many were surprised by acceptable price of a new Preludia. Two live Venice costumes attracted attention to our exposition; we simply wanted to present Preludio originally during Venice festival.
Where is Xavian heading at the moment? What is your target or a dream?
Currently I much appreciate our stability. My frequent personal presence in Prague Opera and Rudolfinum inspires me to search for higher dynamic flexibility of music expression. For two years I have been developing a concept of a new exclusive model; it demands an extensive amount of my personal time and there are many luxurious prototypes. 
What is the following project after successful launching model Preludium on market?
Orchestra line will gradually be added for two larger and “more important” models. Also we are preparing a suspension active bass unit. Nowadays offer of Xavian is pretty large for its manufacture style and due to single-unit production we can satisfy most of our customer requirements. 

This way we want to give acknowledgements to our customers for their trust and favour. Let me encourage them to register on our facebook website. That way we will be in closer contact and they will learn about our novelties and other music events that we promote and recommend.

Thank you for an intriguing interview and we look forward to future company produce.  

 

 

 

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