Company: Metronome Technologie - France
Reporter: Graeme Budd - TNT France
Host: Jean-Marie Clauzel - CEO
Visit: February 2015
A few months ago I had the opportunity to test the Metronome Technologie Le Player and as Metronome is only an hour from where I live in South West France I asked if I could pick up the player from the factory. Jean-Marie Clauzel kindly agreed so off I went for my first TNT factory visit.
As someone who works in aeronautics when I'm not listening to stuff for TNT and who visits the Airbus production lines on a regular basis I was in for a shock when visiting Metronome. Firstly I had to find the building. As it's a house that was built as a workshop you can drive past it several times without noticing! There's no neon signs, scenic fountains or stainless steel sculpture's outside. The only thing that gives it away to anyone with a Sherlock Holmes nature is the larger than average number of cars parked outside. Not possesing the legendary fictional dectective's powers I drove right past and had to phone Jean-Marie twice to find it..
Once inside you really feel that you are in an craftsman's workshop. There is a French word "Artisan" and this sums things up perfectly but in all the positive ways - there is no "home made" feel here. Metronome is a small team and I got to meet about half the staff during my visit.
One of the first things that strikes a visitor is the degree of hand assembly. There are no robots or assembly lines anywhere. The workshop is split into a design room with CAD stations running Solidworks, a circuit board soldering room (again everything is done by hand and by ladies who (much as it pains us to admit it) are better at soldering than us men) and final assembly and test room which also acts as a stock room for mechanical parts prior to assembly and finished players awaiting dispatch.
The guys from Metronome make a point of using European sourced
components wherever possible and these include
Lundahl transformers and made specifically for Metronome capacitors.
Another design philosophy is the use of multiple power supplies to
power different parts of the players and DACs - this is taken to
serious lengths on the C8+ with 4 transformers and 11 voltage
regulators as the eagle eyed amoung you will see below. As to what is
in the players and DACs - well some of that is a closely guarded secret
and some of the components have their IDs deliberately sanded off to
make reverse engineering as difficult as is possible!
The other thing one notices is the level of finish on the mecanical components and the casings. Take a look at a Kalista transport (see photo above and large acrylic block in the background) for example and the finish is just perfect. Frederic who organises the production explained to me that this requirement has caused Metronome some issues with subcontractors used to working with aeronautical tolerances and traceability levels but not with the visual requirements specified by Metronome. And I had heard that Qatar Airways were fussy about finish..
Metronome concentrate on small volume high value products and as such each receives a very high amount of care and attention before leaving the workshop. Every component is fully run in before being shipped meaning the customer is not going to have to wait for their machine to come on song. Due to limited review availibility I only had Le Player for a week but Jean-Marie was fully confident in it's abilities straight from the outset (he was right but should he wish to lend me another sample to be sure I won't be objecting...)
I'd like to thank Jean-Marie and his team for taking the time to show me round their fascinating world - I thoroughly enjoyed it!
© Copyright 2015 Graeme Budd - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.tnt-audio.com