Publisher’s note: Luigi Basagni is the Chief Engineer of Audio Reference Technology of Italy, James Liu is the Director of Business Development.
Laurence Borden: Welcome to Dagogo. Please begin by telling us how you became interested in music, as well as high-end audio.
Luigi Basagni: Listening to music was one of my hobbies when I was a teenager. I am always touched when I hear wonderful music. It is kind of great enjoy to listen music that comes from the audio equipment as well. Before I started making A.R.T. cables, I was always wondering why so many great systems couldn’t have the same quality of sound. Then, an idea came into my head: these systems should have a better sound quality. This was the motivation to push me to create high-end audio cables.
L. Borden: A.R.T. has been in business for over 25 years, which is a very long time for a high-end audio company. How did the company begin, how is it organized, and to what do you attribute its longevity?
It was my personal hobby that motivated me to created A.R.T., and this hobby continues to support me through these 25 years. To be honest, I didn’t have any idea how to develop this business in the beginning. I invited one Japanese specialist to join our R&D team when I set up A.R.T. But due to the cultural differences and personality preferences, he left Italy in one year. After that, we decided to make cables our own way up till now. Actually, A.R.T. is not a big company but a well-organized company as we have only 12 employees, including 3 R&D engineers and consultants. I think the main reason that A.R.T. can survive over 25 years till now is that our cables are of such quality that they can enhance the performance of audio systems to have the sound quality that it should. I called it “real.” “Make sound real” is what allows A.R.T. to flourish for over 25 years.
L. Borden: There are many high-quality cables on the market; in what ways did you feel they were lacking, and what was your approach to improve upon them?
L. Basagni: As mentioned in the previous question, I was searching for the most real and natural sound. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of good cables out there, and we’ve looked into the construction methods, materials, and designs of these cables and thought we could improve over them. A.R.T. has spent countless hours on R&D to find the highest quality conductor and insulating materials, to the construction and spacing between each wire, to the shape and length of the overall design. All of this is to differentiate ourselves from competitors and to achieve the ultimate most realistic sound.
L. Borden: To what extent does the role of measurements play in your designs, and how much is it based on listening?
L. Basagni: Measurements, testing, and listening all play an important role in how we come up with our designs. We always measure and test all the materials and components of our products, but at the end of the day, it needs to sound great. Not everything that measures and test well through machines will sound right. So to answer your question, they all play an role in our designs, but the final test our products need to pass is to please our ears.
L. Borden: Cable consists of the conductor, the insulator/dielectric, and terminals. How do each of these affect the sound?
L. Basagni: You mentioned the 3 main factors in cable construction. I feel the conductor and terminals affect the sound the most in regards to the speed of sound, definition of frequencies, and the sound stage. This is why A.R.T. spends a great deal of time figuring out the perfect mix of the materials we use. For example, purity of the material effects the soundstage. Pure silver is a great conductor and is especially great on high frequencies. However, while the speed of sound usually moves quicker, low frequencies aren’t as defined. If one of the materials you use in the construction of the overall cable is not mixed at the optimal proportion or does not blend well with other materials, the whole sound won’t come together.
I feel the definition of frequencies and sound stage will be affected more by the insulators. A great deal of attention needs to be focused not only on the insulating materials used, but also where and how they are combined with the construction. If not spaced out and/or constructed correctly, it could lead to narrow and forward sound stages, and affect high and low frequencies.
Further comment by J.L: What Luigi means by the speed of sound is the speed and order of when you hear the musical composition while listening to the music. There are some instances you may be able to recall from experience, where the vocals and background music are not coming out at the correct time or speeds – you may hear a more sluggish voice and/or have a tempo where the different sound frequencies aren’t really hitting on time. I’m not sure if this makes sense, but this is one of the things Luigi experienced during some listening tests that he wanted to improve on. This is where he goes on to mention how the perfect mix of materials is very key in improving this point. While he didn’t exactly say it, but some of the accessories A.R.T. has created are also to eliminate this problem.
L. Borden: Many cables companies use wire from commercial suppliers, but you have developed your own conductors. Tell us about their design.
L. Basagni: There is not much I can openly share here or you will know our most well-kept secrets, but I can tell you that A.R.T. uses 99.9999% pure copper as one of our base materials. To improve upon that on our higher end cable lines, we find the best proportioned mix of that copper along with silver, gold, and other special raw materials.
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