From the archives: The amplifier designer hall of fame / Tim de Paravachini / Bill Beard.

Editor McCauley in conversation with Howard Popeck:

So EARs were the best valve amps in the world and by implication their designer was a designer-hero, right?

Possibly. That’s a bit of an inference; I didn't say that. However ..... ARC was touted as being the finest tube gear that money could buy, in the UK at least and so because in a straight a-b demo between an EAR unit and an ARC one – in the same price band –  I just couldn’t demonstrate the ARC to be superior then yes, from that perspective it might be true that these wewre the finest valve amps in the world, but ....

But ..... ?

What does best – in this context – 'look' like? For me, and I'm only talking about me here, it's an amplifier in a system where when listening to that system, all other thoughts other than the music itself are fleeting. Peripheral thoughts are noted but not focused on. For me, few systems achieve this.

In summary then?

They were the most musically credible valve amps I’d ever heard at that point. And that’s the point. At Subjective Audio, I didn’t have anything to beat them, not valve-wise anyway. Which means what I wonder? You tell me.

So Tim DP is the first of your valve amp designer heroes in this interview?

Precisely. But ……

But what?

EAR wasn’t the only decent valves in those days. I was Bill Beard’s most successful retailer. I have no idea if Bill really was the designer as he claimed or as discussed earlier ‘merely’ a visionary with one or more gifted hired-gun designers toiling away in the background. The problem was . . . (Pause)

Was what?

They made hopeless valve preamps. But from time to time something emerged from his organisation that was breathtaking and the uber-rare P100 twin monoblocs was precisely that. They were truly magical. The stereo P100 was a very fine design but those twin monoblocs were something else. They really were.

Which makes Bill Beard the next hero-designer on the list?

No, not really. But only because I have no idea for sure that he designed these things. Nice man though. So where do we go from here?

To be continued tomorrow

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