LECSON: 1974 Design Arts Journal Text

From the 1970s .....

Lecson AC1 and API pre-amplifier and power amplifier audio Units. Made by Lecson Audio Ltd, St Ives, Huntingdonshire. Designed by Robert Stuart, BSc (Eng), MSc, DIC of Lecson Audio and Allen Boothroyd, Mdes RCA, MSIA, DA (Manc), of HuIme Chadwick & Partners. Approximate retail prices: AC1 £100 API £75 ex VAT

In a crowded audio market place dominated by one-box amplifiers with lots of knobs and no respect for the rest of the furniture the tug- piece knobless system introduced last year by newcomer Lecson Audio Ltd distinguishes itself effortlessly. Electronically, the separation of pre-amplifying and power amplifying components is a design concept which dates from the earliest class of him enthusiasm; now it lingers on fit only a very few- top-market products and as an ideal to be discussed in hi-fi magazines. Lecson is the first manufacturer to create an entirely new industrial design idiom around this idea.

The industrial design commission went to London based design group Hulme Chadwick & Partners. Job designer was Allen Boothroyd, who has since developed further items in the expanding Lecson range both in a freelance capacity and in association with Cambridge Consultants Ltd.

Lecson's managing director David Southward was determined from the start that his units should compete with the very best equipment on the market. 'Our first requirement is to satisfy the technical people,' says Southward. 'This is the most important thing. The image of any hi-fi product stems from its technical excellence.' The circuitry of the pre-amplifier (ACI) is designed to the technically very respectable figures of 70dB signal-to-noise ratio. Taking pre- amplifier and power amplifier together, distortion is limited to about 0 02 per cent from 30Hz to 20kHz. For this performance, the power output is rated at 35W per channel driven into an 8 Ohm load; maximum power is 58W a channel and a new version of the power amplifier (AP2) raises this figure to 100W making it one of the most powerful units available. At these powers, separation of pre-amp and power amp makes good technical sense: more power means more heat which might, in a single enclosure, damage the pre-amplifying circuits.

Industrial design assists and illustrates the electronic concept: the casing of the cylindrical power amplifier - finned mate black aluminium - provides a natural radiating heat sink. But the designer's most striking achievement is the 1 25in shallow preamplifier, fitted with colour-coded slide controls in place of conventional knobs, set between strips of glossy Perspex (an original plan to use black glass was discarded). Lecson hopes it has eliminated the dust-damage problems associated with earlier slide control amplifiers. Watt black aluminium extrusions make up the sides of the enclosure.

Southward is convinced that Lecson units will sell best in the export market. There have been especially favourable reactions from Sweden (orders worth about £30 000) and Canada (orders worth £60 000 are expected). Home sales are running at about 50-100 units per month.