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Interview with Gianfranco Pellas of Ikarus Audio

[Italian version]

TNT-Audio >
Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. Could you please tell us how the Ikarus Audio venture begun?

Gianfranco Pellas >
As it frequently happens, everything happened by chance when, waiting for the ferry to Sardinia I was lured by the format of a magazine: it was FedeltÓ del Suono. Its format hooked me because it was the same as Bolina, which I've been reading for as long as I can remember. The articles dedicated to valves brought me back many years to the time when I was studying electrotechnical engineering and built my first power amps. I felt the urge to build one to let my son listen to it, and the adventure begun.

TNT-Audio >
Your production spans both DIY kits and fully built products, in what percentage do they sell? Which is more appealing?

Gianfranco Pellas >
In the beginning I started producing kits since youngsters interested in valves chose to approach them with DIY, while not-so-young people wanted to have the pleasure of re-doing what they had been doing in the past, like it had appened to me. Then requests for finished products started to come in and I would say that currently our production may be tilted towards finished products, keep in mind that the Ikarus production is not limited to amps, it encompasses loudspeakers, turntables and accessories too. Talking about loudspeakers we spent a lot of energy and time in the making of the Giotto which have been designed, calculated and build in-house. They are our pride and we are confident enough to say that they are the best enclosures for Lowther and similar cones. It's not like we are biased about our own products, it's simply our opinion based on a number of comparisons between Giotto and the majority of projects based on these drivers we built ourselves, Opus One included.

TNT-Audio >
You chose to sell directly to your customers. This keeps the final price low but makes it hard to evaluate your products in a shop or at home. It is not a surprise that direct sales are hindered by dealers. Could you explain us the pros and cons of this approach and the reasons that determined your choice?

Gianfranco Pellas >
I chose the direct way for several reasons, the first one being that I didn't want to have an industrial production, even in a small scale, because in this case it would have to be serial and competitive with more or less established brands on the market. My idea was to offer a product with a customized, homemade feeling about it. Consider: everything Ikarus produces is build almost exclusively by me and my son, so our products may be compared to those of a fine taylor. Another important reason is that to obtain quality products you have to use quality components with adequate costs and we would be unable to use them should the distribution chain enter the picture. So our choice allows us to offer to our customers products with outstanding acoustics, up from entry level.

We do have drawbacks, like being unable to be known by a wider audience. As you know it's true that we are hindered, maybe even labeled by big brands as unfair competitors but in my opinion these accusations are simply ridiculous. Our customers are mostly audiophiles, true estimative of High Fidelity that know how to listen, discern every small difference, appreciate acoustic quality and feel emotions when listening to properly recorded music. They compare several times their systems with our products before any decision is made. We give them all the needed time without pushing for a rush decision. These customers are our strongest asset with their word of mouth. We would like to remind also that direct sales and delivery are protected by law and subject to money back guarantee. We are available, upon request and if within 200km range of our labs, to bring our most delicate and/or heavy amps like Paganini, W.A.M. or Mythos directly to our customer for an evaluation.

TNT-Audio >
Your production is oriented towards the valve/fullrange or valve/high efficiency. Could you explain the reasons of this clear choice? More specifically, how do you perceive the new technologies in amplification? (class D, for example)

Gianfranco Pellas >
Our preference goes to valve/fullrange for its inherent simplicity and complete lack of filters, bi or three-amped high efficiency solutions do fascinate us and our takes at this approach, made on order, were very satisfying. New technologies like class D/T or others in my opinion fit solid state, which I don't like and know only in theory. Everyonke knows that I only build with valves, so I don't think I could give an objective opinion.

TNT-Audio >
Are all of your products built in-house or by partners? Do you work also for other brands? Where are drivers used in Ikarus projects coming from?

Gianfranco Pellas >
Like previously stated we build everything in-house, also we don't build anything for other brands (except some small items for a friend). We received some requests for collaboration but none of them were interesting. Our Ikarus Audio drivers are produced by CIARE while those used in the Giotto are PM2A from Lowther, we use Lowther A45 or A55 on the Mini Giotto too.

TNT-Audio >
What do you dream for Ikarus Audio? In a broader sense, what future developments have you planned?

Gianfranco Pellas >
It's a project rather than a dream: we would like to let more people know Ikarus Audio products, maybe inviting small groups of audiophiles at our labs (currently being restructured) organizing some weekends with not only listening sessions but also debates, comparisons and (why not!) delicious food from Veneto and sightseeing in Padova being able to choose to spend the night in one of the city's B&Bs.
I've been thinking about this for a while now.

Thanks for your interest in Ikarus Audio.

Copyright 2006 TNT-Audio - www.tnt-audio.com

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