Interview

Jan Brassány – interview for Fullstars

Another important guest of Fullstars is Jan Brassány, a highly regarded amplifier producer. He is also known as a saviour our of those who bought single-piece  unique hi-fi produce of foreign companies, but later could not find any service workplace that would repair them.

 

Mr. Brassány, how did it all begin? We understand the name clearly, but when came the first impulse to deal with hi-fi technique?
A long time ago I began to play with electrons as a small boy. I would try to connect whatever was possible, soldering all the time; nevertheless the idea to offer this to people came from the circle of my friends. You could say they pushed me into it. They would come to me if I could make this or that and it would in fact inspire me. So about twenty years ago I began to search for various solutions of electric circuits; i worked with electron tubes and by a lucky chance I met a guy who produced them. We clicked and began to think of the idea in future. Originally we thought of non-compromised electron amplifier that later turned out to be a very difficult or impossible to resolve under conditions of those times. Yet it was a beginning of a new development as we agreed to use what we already had and started with transistors. We intended to create an amplifier with hi-fi parameters and think we found a solution that worked with other competition brands at the time. In the nineties there were many devices here that cost tons of money but didn’t work well at all. Then there were those that could not be appreciated enough.  I began to work on pieces I liked because I knew exactly what I wanted. Same then as today it was a hand-made single piece manufacture. I made and sold a couple of amplifiers and that directed me again. The only problem was to compromise that is to keep the work according to my ideas and at the same time to be able to remake them again. Some concepts we were able to make once but too difficult to remake again in the same quality not even talking about being able to sell them. And of course, making something that is impossible to sell seemed really useless. So that made me go down a step again, but we
still tried to use those compromise more in respect of circuits that are less important in the device.

 So you created electron-transistor amplifiers. Sometimes I feel that hi-fi fans are divided into two groups; the electrons and transistors. What is your opinion?

You know…I really don’t like any boxes. The objective is always the same; an amplifier has to mediate a certain level of audio quality. I don’t think one is better than the other; both can be made fine or badly. You often see measuring in discussions but what is forgotten is the fact that even the measure is correct. Most important is to connect the chain of components. And even a well measured device can in the end turn out wrong. I believe there are many electron amplifiers that are not very high quality and just by listening you can hear that inside there is an inappropriate connection of wrong choice of lamps. But I disagree with the opinion that electron amplifiers are of certain quality and transistor ones are all that different. I know devices where you would not identify electron tubes and vice versa. Another frequent possibility is usage of electron tubes as well as transistors. In general electron tubes have many disadvantages; they are much more sensitive to electromagnetic field, they age fast and got to be replaced regularly. If you are going to buy a new one, it is guaranteed that it won´t play the same as the former one. If I bring a dozen of lamps, then I choose only a few pieces and just a minimum for a final produce that of course makes the construction pretty costly.

 

So why do you actually use them?
If you use an electron tube correctly, it works with music in a more friendly way than a transistor does.  I use them only in non-efficacy circuits; that is in pre-amplifiers where they behave almost as an ideal amplifying element, if everything is treated correctly.

 

Who inspired you most? The schemes that you use are your own patents?
Well I would not say that. Of course I was and still am coming from generally known and well proven methods I modify according to my own ideas. If an expert takes a look at my schemes, there is nothing ground-breaking to see. My solutions are relatively well known but what is more important is technical settings. Setting working points, quality of construction parts, placement of circuits, materials I use – all that are the parameters that decide on the final produce. If there is five various producers manufacturing the same connection, every time it plays differently.

 

Is there any brand that you prefer in the segment?
I actually don´t think so. I see no company as explicitly positive or negative. All of them have variable intentions and satisfy different needs at the market. There is even no guru I am trying to copy. I have a certain vision I am trying to follow. Moreover I let other people that are not only consumers, but also musicians judge my produce. This gives me valuable information.
Let´s talk about brands more. What kind of speakers goes best with your amplifiers?
I don´t think so. I aim at the biggest possible universality, but I don´t deny that certain combinations are more appropriate that other. It is always really complicated to judge it. Everyone is searching for something else in the experience. Yet I know a discouraging example of my friends that after buying the apparatus in the end bought cables that were even more expensive than the price of the amplifier.
 
How to choose the best combination?
The amplifier is not the most important issue. The most significant is the signal source. I would say that you can follow a few simple instructions. Take 100% of the sum you want to invest and proportionally divide it into single components containing the source (CD or SACD), amplifier and speakers. I certainly don’t advise to save money on the source as people often do.
 
If we talk about amplifiers, I have to ask you a question on active cables that in fact function as an amplifier. How would you review their function? 

It is actually an amplifier with zero profit. I admit that I have no practical experience. There are always pros and cons. Partialy it is a great idea but I would fear that it can also produce an undesired effect in signal path. Personally I´d be careful. Certainly it can be said that it will help the components that are in respect of impedance. If it be to the contrary the active cable will be an extra element. 
 

What approach would you recommend choosing apparatuses containing four components, that is SACD, pre-amplifier and speakers?
I would advise to trust your own instincts and deduction and listen to the sound personally. 
 
That is very difficult with little listening experience.

Yes it is and everyone´s opinions change in time. My experience is that I have to listen sometimes thousands of hours to a certain system before I know all its aspects and can be sure it is the right one for me. First of all you need to know what kind of listening experience you want, where it will be – in a small or a large room –  and what daytime you prefer, that is in the evening silently, or anytime during the day out loud. And of course what kind of music I prefer…
 
As we are running out of time, let me ask you last questions. What does Brassány do right now?
We are expanding. Currently the production is still done as a single piece. Still we produce something but the storage stock is very limited. Yet it is obvious that the brand is getting more customers, which is the reason I want to produce more with help of my son. 
 
What is your best produce or the most favourable one?

I try producing many things that cover the most desired applications on the market. Now I reckon that an integrated amplifier is the essential component. Following is the pre-amplifier with a double end stage, so called bi-amping. That is the best in respect of signal distribution. Still the integrated systems are most on demand.
 Now it occurred to me that I have never seen a remote control for your amplifiers. Is there any?
…(laughing) That´s a long story. Originally there were none. Now they are available but still in development. I am trying to find the best option when the remote control circuits won´t influence amplifier circuits and the device will be reliable controlled.
Mr. Brassány, thank you for an interview and on behalf of Fullstars let me wish you much work success!


 

 

 

 

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