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Inter.view to Carmine Bocchino of Bocchino Audio

by Lucio Cadeddu

Italian version

LC >
Bocchino Audio is not well known here In Italy. Since you should be of some Italian descent, before starting our interview you may want to introduce yourself to our readers.

CB >
Thank you for your interest in inquiring into my product range.
A few words about myself: I was born here in Australia in February 1953; my parents emigrating from Italy in 1949 to Tasmania, Australia. Many of their relatives followed and now there is a small colony of *Bocchino's* in Hobart, the capital of the island of Tasmania.
My interest in Audio began when I was 15 - 16 years of age and has not stopped since. I have mainly tinkered with speakers and some amplifier designs. In the '70s I began producing some of my designs for friends and others who were interested. I managed to get copies of Thiele and Smalls technical papers to the IEEE in the early '80s and (then living in New Zealand) began experimenting with D'Apollito designs and found some interesting ratios relating to the *comfort zone* for a loudspeaker in an enclosure.
I concluded that there is no *comfort zone* in a vented enclosure. So I put all my efforts into sealed enclosures. The only problem here was that the parameters for the transducer to enable it to perform effortlessly in the *comfort zone* compromised its ability to deliver optimum power handling. But I persevered and found two transducers that met this criteria. The criteria being Qts=0.5; Vas > 100 litres and Fs < 30Hz.
The subsequent enclosure into which such a transducer is installed is larger than most people would wish to have in their listening rooms. As the *I Ching* says perseverance furthers.
Working with some Lux Kevlar transducers and enclosures of 150 litres each (in 1987 - 89) I was able to confirm the conclusions that I had derived. Final Qtco = 0.623 from Qtco = 0.8.
I preferred the lower *Q* designs. But this meant larger enclosures.

In 1989/90 I was in Europe visiting my relatives in Italy and my sister in England. I had the good fortune of meeting Giuseppe Prato of Finaudio and was impressed with his meticulous sense of thoroughness in his approach to his design and fabrication processes.
Whereas I was tending to go to the more robust and larger designs Mr. Prato, a far more realistic person on the practicalities of achieving sales and performance, had a design philosophy of the small and exact.
I am still impressed on how pure and natural woodwind instruments sounded on his loudspeakers.
But design in audio is all about personality. In fact if I may be so bold all things are derived from measurement and personality. It is in the domain of art (with science or vice versa) that individuals express their goals.
My original tendency towards the large and robust (as with my physique) and the consequences of my tinkering in New Zealand in the '80's soon took over my work when I returned to Australia in 1990 and the current design(s) began to evolve out of the work that I had begun in New Zealand in 1985.

LC >
Bocchino Audio makes some pretty revolutionary audio components, such as connectors, binding posts, cables and loudspeakers.
Before going into more specific issues, could you explain your general approach on HiFi and how and why did you start making HiFi components?

CB >
At first glance the products do appear to be revolutionary. But their operation is quite simple.
In New Zealand when I was designing my new range of loudspeakers the brand name *Panda* sprang to mind. It's remained. Since 1985 all speakers that I have designed have been called by the brand name Panda. In all there have been 10 distinct designs with numerous variations within the range. Once again only selling through *word of mouth* and low volume runs.
During this time I was seeking a robust binding post and could not find anything anywhere. It was self evident that after soldering the crossover into its final configuration that performance of the loudspeaker was not as acute and sharp as when all the components were hard wired with terminal strips.
The First Monopole was born sometime in 1987. I had noticed in 1984 how small amounts of grime and oil on a water electrolysis cell, used to generate hydrogen and oxygen for welding, that used high current (120 Amperes ) and low voltage (2 Volts) was easily inhibited from operating at all.
The contacts had to remain clean and firmly clamped. I had a few components fabricated and some I acquired *off the shelf* and the M1 Monopole was in use. It improved the performance of the loudspeakers only marginally and I tinkered with this design process for a while but did not pay it too much attention again until 1991.
The M2 and M3 and M4 followed and then the M5! As I detail in my web page this was the first *great leap forward*.
Though the first 4 Monopoles were all fabricated from Copper only the M5 showed some considerable improvement in performance. Now there are a total of 23 designs with up to 9 variations for each model. But I am restricting the models available to 5. These are the:
M11 mkVI: this will accommodate: Bare wire, FM2 Spade and banana;
M14: this will accommodate: FM2 Spade and banana;
M13 mkIV: this will accommodate: FM3 Spade and banana
M13 mkV: this will accommodate: FM3 Spade only and meets all the requirements of IEC-CE.
M16 GSE: this will accommodate: FM4 Spade and banana
M22 GSE: this will accommodate: bare wire, FM4 spade and banana.
(the M13, M14 and M16 will accommodate bare wire also but have been designed principally as spade binding posts).

What has followed on from this is a whole dendritic shift in the application of the fundamental design paradigm as applied to the Monopoles. All the bare wire connector components have derived as a result of my work on the Panda Model 10's.
For the loudspeaker transducer I have two WireTails the WTL-3 and the WTL-4 to replace the standard push-fit transducer binding posts.
For assembling crossovers (and amplifiers if you want to) WireGrubs. All fabricated from copper.
I noticed that transducers, firmly clamped with G-Clamps during testing, exhibited better responses than when either screwed or bolted into the loudspeaker front panel. Aurally there was greater tonal accuracy from the test bench than from the final enclosure. The CaneToad clamp derived from this. A screw has a clamping area of less than 60 square millimetres. A TeeNut has less than 140 square millimetres, the CaneToad has a pad area of 500 square millimetres.
Fabricated from brass and with an integral thread and screw mounting hole it provides the firmest anchor available today for securing a loudspeaker transducer to its mounting. The performance of the transducer is now equal to its performance when *G-Clamped* into its test box.
I took a look at a level of detail that everyone has taken for granted. Everyone says: *solder the crossover components together* I asked: *How will the crossover sound if hard wired*. Everyone says secure internal cabling via soldering to binding-posts or to lugs secured between locking nuts on threads brass rod; I wanted the same quality of reproduction as I had from the prototype design as configured with terminal strips.
I have succeed in attaining this goal through utilising both the Monopoles and WireGrubs and the host of other bare wire components.
Up until March 1996 I had the Brass M11 mkI binding posts on my system. After reading a review done by an audiophile user of my copper M11 mkIV I installed the same on my system and was amazed at the improvement in detail. Next I installed the M14 and M13's respectively.
The difference between the M11 and M14 was difficult to differentiate though the difference between these and the M13 was quite marked (all in copper).

The fundamental design paradigm rests on two principles: namely maintaining a high pressure at the transition interface and secondly the use of highly electrically conductive materials.
One further enhancement that is also explained on my web page is the use of a compound called ROCOL J166. This is used by plumbers as an anti-seize compound when tightening nuts on bolts. It is a copper based paste and has very good electrical conductive properties.
Smearing the connecting cable or the insertion cylinder with ROCOL assists further in maintaining an excellent throughput of signal as well as minimising oxidation at the smeared surfaces. It is available from Radio Spares in the UK and also from Farnell.
The designs evolved as a consequence of a desire to find the best avenue for achieving the smallest loss of signal quality at the critical appliance transition interfaces. Dogged persistence and innumerable tinkering of the possible variations.

LC >
HiFi connectors are every audiophile's worst nightmare. Either the connection is too loose or too firm, not to mention the troubles caused by compatibility among different components. Also, many audiophiles complain of the fair quality of the standard RCA connection, claiming the superiority of other systems. Could you shed some light on this topic?

CB >
Hi-Fi component design is driven as much by fashion as by good engineering design. Personally, I find the current trend towards *slim low profile* designs quite limiting and self-defeating. Using the same ardour with which I designed the Monopoles and associated ancillary products I took a long hard look at the interconnector connector component. Concluding that both the RCA and XLR are compromise designs each with their own inherent flaws.
It is not possible to attain the high pressure required in the FDP in either of these connectors; and especially at 19mm or 25mm centres as are the RCA's arrayed on most audio components.
Soldering a wire into place on the polarity pole of an interconnector connector will hold that wire with some considerable force; but it will not hold that wire with the same force into the body of its connection interface. It is just difficult to disconnect from its anchor point.
Pondering this problem and consulting the animals on the farm, Brenda the cow provided the answer. Machining some initial components the application of the FDP appeared to work.
Three full revisions later the Brenda B1 was *born* and now there are two principal Brenda's: the B3 is the main production model and the B2 is made to order.
It turns out that the Brenda connectors are superbly adept for the Van den Hul carbon interconnect wire as there is no requirement for solder and also the Siltech range of interconnector cables. The Brenda connector has the distinct property that any interconnect cable correctly installed will deliver a better performance than any other interconnector connector component that uses solder to secure the wire in place. Brenda uses a receding locking claw to secure itself onto its chassis receptor.
To address the deficiencies of the RCA chassis receptor on the audio appliance body TomCat was designed and fabricated.
TomCat is an RCA type chassis receptor. It also uses the FDP and achieves as best a connection as is possible with the RCA design paradigm. TomCat is now in its second and final design revision the TC-2.
As yet I have decided not to pursue the XLR design as its pin sizes are a bit of a joke if, in my opinion, this connector is to be taken seriously as a quality connector component. Instead I have designed my own range of interconnector connector components called *MinMin-Lights*. Of which the ML-3 and ML-6 are the most economical to use. A full description and pricing of these will be available on my web page some time in September.
These connectors allow for hard-wiring of the interconnect wire into their respective *bodies* and internally in their audio component the corresponding appliance wire is also hard-wired into the MinMin-Light.
When designing components to accommodate the MinMin-Lights the pre-amplifier needs to have one channels' rows of connectors stepped out so that the bottom row is easily accessible. With the MinMin-Lights one MinMin-Light is used per *pole*. Wires are secured into the MinMin-Lights (and Brenda's and TomCats) using M4 grub-screws. These are supplied with the component.
Hence the solution to loose connectors is not persisting with the current design paradigms but of doing a major paradigm shift to what works than what we want to make work. If the RCA's can be spaced at 30mm centres on audio appliances then TC-2 TomCats and B3 Brenda's are easily accommodated. (To accommodate B2 Brenda's spacing of 50mm for the TomCats on the audio appliance should be incorporated).

Modifying individual components such as CD players and other source components is not difficult. The principal difficulty is when the pre-amplifier is modified. It is my experience that few people use more than 2 or 3 source components. It does not make sense to have pre-amps with 10 - 20 source inputs. Though this is driven by market forces; 6 - 8 inputs and two outputs is more than adequate.
A pre-amp built with MinMin-lights and can still maintain a reasonably low profile. Even with TomCats. Firma Brocksieper in Wuppertal in Germany will be incorporating TomCats into some of his high-end components (Stefan Brocksieper currently uses the M11 as the standard binding-post in his 808 single-ended monobloc).
The FDP is second only to molecular fusion of the interconnector cable into the connector component in efficiency of maintaining an accurate and minimal loss transition interface connection.
Most RCA chassis receptors on even the most expensive audio appliances cost the manufacturer of that component in the vicinity of less than $5.00. It does not make sense that paying tens of thousands of dollars for an audio component the designs performance is compromised through the use of cheap poorly designed transition interface RCA chassis receptors.

LC >
Another problem audiophiles have to fight every day is *isolation* (pun not intended :-) ). Vibrations and interferences of every kind could affect systems performance unpredictably, hence we find that the HiFi market is overcrowded by isolation bases, tip toes, seismic feet and even vibration-free cables. Not only but Audiophiles are putting tons of blue-tac everywhere, trying to dampen unwanted and dangerous vibrations. What's your view on this topic?

CB >
This is the great furphy of the audiophilia virus. One French reviewer even went so far as to ascribe sexual gender to audio cable characteristics! This goes too far.
The best type of isolation is to completely decouple the audio component instrument rack from its listening environment. Then placing the individual audio components onto firm platforms and keeping connecting cabling separate and secure.
To completely de-couple the instrument rack and especially the source components (CD, Turntable etc.) and if the listening room is on the ground floor, then the source component rack needs to be anchored into the bedrock as well as the loudspeaker pedestals. This provides the best de-coupling possible. It's also the most expensive.
In Queensland in the late 1970's a friend had a house built on a hillside. A 450mm diameter hardwood timber pole came up through the floor and was securely anchored into the hillside to a depth of 3 meters into the ground (couldn't find the bedrock). Onto this was placed an AR Turntable. The quality of reproduction was the stuff of which legends are made of. Distinct clean and sharp transients, excellent placement of the stereo holographic image and so on.

As you can see from my audio page there are numerous pieces dedicated to isolating the component. The easiest manner is to use either MonoFeet or TipToes or similar devices coupled with an isolation platform of sufficient mass: either a granite or slate (or in Italy marble or travertine) slab 25mm - 50mm thick, and placing the audio component onto this. Other devices such as seismic-sinks are more sophisticated (and effective) devices that give excellent isolation from room rumblings.
It is not wise to enclose components in a cabinet as the cabinet will develop its own acoustic signature and impose this through the audio components enclosed therein. Best to leave it all open.
Equally effective and cheaper is using concrete paving slabs. Here in Australia these are available from garden suppliers and are 600mm x 600mm x 45mm and provide considerable mass and isolation for a very cheap price ($4.00 each as opposed to hundreds for a good looking piece of polished granite each having the same effect).
Using blue-tac is just a *band-aid* on an already bad installation. I have tried many of the *dots* and other component add-ons and each has its own imposition if overdone. It's a trial and error item. It wouldn't be necessary if some basic design rules were adhered to.
Using substantial connector components to start with; proper appliance racks with spikes to secure them into the room floor; secure, firm platforms with some mass within the racks; de-coupled wooden floors and walls in the listening room (if possible); firm and secure anchoring of cabling and *hanging-pieces*.
In essence firm decoupling of everything and placement of critical components on mass loaded platforms that are immune (as far as possible) from excessive mechanical vibration.
EMR and RFI isolation is another issue. Might as well live in a Faraday Cage! Or build your listening room in an underground obsidian mine (or a very deep basement).
It can all be taken far too seriously and needlessly so. In the end it all comes down to how you intend to enjoy your music. Its possible to tinker forever and its possible to listen to the music. Its up to the audiophile to choose. Its up to the designer to ensure that maximum enjoyment and faithful reproduction is possible from the component being used. There are many sites on the Internet regarding of setting up a proper listening room and also TAS issue 90 has an excellent article on *The Listening Room*.

LC >
The HiFi market is very sensible to *trends*. These days low power tubes amplifiers and high efficiency loudspeakers seem to be all the rage.
Even old turntables such as some Garrards and Thorens are pretty popular so that it seems some old ideas could work well even with today's systems.
According to you, has this to be considered just a trend or is there some *truth* into this *revival*?

CB >
As I mentioned above there are always trends and fashions in all technologies. But there are also tried and true ways of doing things upon which there can be only cosmetic improvements.
The turntable is such a device. The best bearings are from Platine Verdier and Roksan (there is also one German manufacturer who also makes a rather massive bearing assembly) as well as some of the Micro-Seiki turntables. Consider also the Linn; Rockport and TNT turntables and many others all of which when properly setup on a stable platform reproduce music with such perfection that one feels like dynamiting every digital component ever made!
Analogue reproduction is a direct link/translation of the original performance. Its a shame that audio tape has been relegated to the cassette. From the '50's to the mid '80's it was possible to acquire excellent 20cm/sec 200mm reel to reel tapes of audio releases. Even some at 30cm/sec. Fashion and convenience deemed that these sources of audio have now become extremely scarce or just impossible to acquire.
Digital is a sampling of the audio. It is re-assembled through the DAC and we are meant to be grateful for its ease of use. The CD is indeed easy to use (as is power steering on a car) but is one step further away from the real event and though we hear the information we seldom get the feel of the music.
DAT on the other hand is an excellent medium second only to the turntable and many times quite indistinguishable with good original source engineering. Sampling rates for digital are still far too low.
These need to be in the megahertz range and the whole paradigm of the *digital word* need to be re-assessed before digital can be taken seriously. Let alone before introducing another medium altogether.
Audiophiles are returning to their turntables (and reel to reel tape decks) because these sources are more faithful to the original performance than other sources that *sample* the source while leaving enormous gaps between the sampling dots.
The human brain is susceptible to frequencies as high as 500KHz (albeit subliminal but still perceived within the brain). It seems obvious that the gaps in the reconstructed digital signal deliver an inferior quality of *cleaned* audio.
Having had a Garrard Zero 100 I can understand why some prefer the older turntables. The Garrard delivers a warm and seemingly clear audio signal. It is, though, dated.
Best remain with the current crop of BELT-DRIVE turntables (Michell if you want a good budget priced platter) sitting on an appropriate platform.
Output with MinMin-Lights or TomCat of course!

With respect to low power tubes and very efficient loudspeakers to match these have limiting performance properties. The ability of efficient loudspeakers to comfortably cope with wide dynamic range without going too loud too soon is still a limiting factor to their success.
To try to attain high efficiency from small loudspeaker enclosures further limits the ability of the design to reproduce crescendo's without screaming. Efficiency and sensitivity with linearity are not necessarily concomitant. The drive for speaker efficiency at the expense of linearity and sensitivity will mislead many a consumer into thinking that efficiency corresponds to more information translated to the transducer. This is incorrect. As with all fashions there are vendors that will sell anything to an unsuspecting consumer.
As for single-ended amplifiers I find them positively delicious. Sound Reference in Brisbane (part of Caxton St., Audio) produces a 17 watt single ended 211 stereo amplifier for $4000.00 and at moderate listening levels (even on the Panda model 10) produces music very accurately and always sounds quite effortless.
The popularity of these *revised trends* is as a consequence of the ability of these technologies to deliver a faithful reproduction of the original audio signal.
I prefer valve based amplifiers though on my web page I recommend the ME technologies ME 1400 or ME 1400 power amplifier fitted with M13 MkV Monopoles. The ME 1400 delivers 400 watts into 4 ohms and as much as 1500 watts into 2 ohms and will drive a 0 ohm load. It grabs the loudspeaker transducer and tells it what to do; without compromise and is a transistor based amplifier. Fabricated here in Australia by ME Technologies at Dyers Crossing in New South Wales.
What I have found surprising about my own loudspeaker is the depth of intimacy and sense of involvement that it exhibits. The amount of information is, I believe, as close to the live audition as is possible.
The Panda Model 10 is not the worlds best loudspeaker. I'm yet to hear any loudspeaker than can claim such title. Reviewers stamp their opinions but in the end it is the consumer and good engineering from the designer and fabrication process. If I were to impose the normal regime of markups through the normal regime of distributors and retailers this would make the Panda Model 10 inordinately expensive. Consequently the margin for resellers makes it such that many will not stock the Model 10.

LC >
How do you see the future of HiFi reproduction? Are we going to be *processed* and *digitalized* or some ideas such as analog reproduction and stereophonic sound are here to stay?

CB >
It is unfortunate that the future of audio is in the hands of businesses that seek to make profits from creating new trends. But I think the ability of these trends to be successfully imposed since the debacle of the CD is going to be very difficult.
DCC is such a format failure. People are happy with their CD players and their turntables. If the audio reproduction industry changes format too often then people will just walk away and stop buying altogether.
Such a trend is already happening primarily because of home theatre. If I buy a pair of loudspeakers for $2000.00 then I can rest assured that I am buying a reasonably good pair of loudspeakers. If I buy a home-theatre system for the same amount of money then I have 5 loudspeaker enclosures and up to 18 individual transducers throughout. The enclosure walls are thin, the quality of the transducers is commensurate with the price paid and the ability of all in the room to perceive the *theatre effect* is greatly diminished.
The more speakers there are reproducing the audio signal the narrower is the acoustic focal field where the effect of this reproduction is perceivable. Even with stereo the full effect of the stereo signal is only perceivable at the sweet-spot. Generally more than two people can perceive the full stereo-holographic effect at the same time. Not so with home theatre. Only one person can perceive this effect. All the signal delays all coincide at one point.
A pair of loudspeakers set up properly will give a far better reproduction of audio than any home theatre.
Retailing in any industry has the capacity to press anything onto the public. But if you want repeat business you have to sell quality.
The most likely probable future of music reproduction will be digital. There are forces greater than the soul pushing this technology. The CD and all similar media will disappear and we will be down loading our music from a server somewhere via the Internet. We will no longer have individual libraries of discs instead we will have licences to access server libraries. I find this both a positive and also a negative trend. It leaves us at the mercy of the providers. Personally I will remain with the trusty old turntable. Viva Vinyl!

LC >
Are you currently designing some new product? Are you planning to enter some new markets where your products are less known, such as Italy, for example?

CB >
On the drawing board:
I have stopped designing for the moment as the last 6 years have been quite intensive in both demand and output; and am now concentrating on selling and marketing.
I do intend to design and reproduce a bare wire solder free volume attenuator, balance control and source selector. Thus also finally manufacturing the first truly all bare wire passive pre-amp. This is a couple of years away. Also on the drawing board is a turntable with the platter fabricated from 316 stainless steel ensconced on a carbon impregnated Teflon bearing with MinMin-Light outputs.
Numerous other ideas are floating around: a 400 watt single-ended valve monobloc; a new and totally different type of phono cartridge; a power-lead where, with the use of Teflon-polycarbonate screws the plug tongs are secured firmly into their receiving sockets and two mains isolation transformers 3.5KVa and 5KVa.
It has been my experience that power conditioners are also power limiters. Unless the power conditioner is rated at the same power rating as the mains plug into which it is plugged into then this limits the audio appliance's performance to sourcing transient power requirements to the rating of the power conditioner.
I intend in the near future to have my web page fully redrawn with photos of everything.
Presently all products can be purchased directly and this will be enhanced with the use of new shopping basket software in the near future.

Footnote
As can be seen from my web-page component prices are quite expensive. The quality, doubtless, matching the price.
The expense is derived from the quality of materials (copper) and the quality of the finish (gold plate on silver substrate). I make no apologies for this. If you want the best ever then the prices are quite reasonable. The Monopole, Brenda and TomCats are the only components of their type today which when properly adapted to their new appliances produce an improvement in that appliances performance not ever thought possible.
My main difficulty is getting through the front door. Once the component has been installed the client is left speechless at the degree of improvement. They are always pleased and I have had a 100% success rate.
Manufacturers are reluctant to include the components at the fabrication level due to the effect of increase in price that this would impose on their product as it is marked up at the various stages of distribution. However, manufacturers are more than happy to install these components into their audio appliances if supplied by the prospective buyer.
Further if your are a DIY boffin then installing the MinMin-Lights or any of the other items into your audio appliance will deliver a satisfaction beyond what you thought possible.

Courtesy by Carmine Bocchino for TNT.

Copyright 1997 Lucio Cadeddu

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