ALBARRY: Howard Popeck speaks at length to people with interesting things to say: Albarry Music’s main man Mr. Neil Burnett. An Albarry valve amp perhaps?

From the archives

Preliminary notes. Neil’s a busy guy and has kindly agreed to us sending him clusters of three questions on a regular basis while bearing in mind that he’ll squeeze his responses in as and when his schedule permits.

There are many things we’d like to ask this designer of fine amplification and given sufficient time both we will get around to it. So, where to start? Given that his designs seem to convey most of the magic of the finest and most expensive valve designs but without the hassle, we thought we’d include this in the first batch. So Neil – Thank you

Neil McCauley


How did your interest in music reproduction start?

I suppose that I was rather more fortunate than most, being introduced to music and reproduction equipment from an early age. My father was a trained musician who spent the wartime years as a dance band pianist as well as working in electrical engineering. He acquired two Collaro turntables, built a Partridge PX25 based amplifier and all the other kit to entertain the audiences with records during the band breaks. So my childhood was full of music and gave a young inquisitive mind, rare access to player equipment in the earlier 1950's. It developed into a passion that has never left me.

Have you ever been tempted to design tube products?

My first amplifier during my teens was a stereo pair version of the now legendary Mullard 5-20 tube amplifier, a design which would later be 'tweaked' by several manufacturers. With just a few notable exceptions, most valve/tube amplifiers of today are based largely on those original Mullard, Williamson, etc, designs and the like, designs with origins in the late 1940's and early 1950's, but utilising advances in modern component technology. Yes, I have been tempted from time to time to revisit the work that I did during my earlier 'tube' days but feel that the challenges for me personally still lie within the world of semi- conductors.

Is there an outstanding sonic characteristic of which you are especially proud?

I suppose that the proudest moments for me are when the listeners really believe that they are listening to valve/tube equipment.

Epilogue 13/10/16. Designer engineer Neil Burnett passed away after a very brief illness aged 68