September 2010 Issue 133
“We are on the cusp of unveiling Project Energia. Phase one... is definitely focused on touring.”
President & CEO, Adamson Systems Engineering
Date & place of birth:
October 15 1950; British Columbia, Canada
Your first job after full-time education?
My brother and I built precision machined parts for custom motorcycle shops.
Why did you first become interested in audio?
When I was about 14 years old a friend of my father gave me a couple of 15” cabinets with a pair of mono block 150W tube amps. I remember that they had KT88 tubes. I hooked them up and that was it for me. When I wasn’t building custom bikes, I was learning about sound.
And what events led up to the formation of Adamson?
I had a small speaker shop and I merged with a hire company called Rocky Mountain Sound. I was building custom systems for a while, but I quickly realised that I wanted to manufacture gear, not rent it. So I went my own way and offered the Adamson brand for sale.
What were the main ambitions with speaker technology back then?
I was always chasing vocal reproduction. I was obsessed with mid-range technology. This led to the development of the M200 mid compression driver. I then modified this concept and built the Y-Axis mid/high chamber. In my opinion it has been the foundation of our company.
The landscape is much different today. Our management team is broad by comparison. In the early days, I did it all. From prototyping to marketing, it all landed on my plate. I’m sure that anyone who has built a company from the ground up knows what I mean.
Now we obviously have a much bigger organisation. The leg work on many of my designs is carried forward by a series of different engineers. We are on the cusp of unveiling Project Energia. I currently have an electrical and software engineering team prototyping an AVB switch, a control interface and a Class D amplifier module in-house.
On the loudspeaker side of our development, Benoit Cabot is my right-hand man. Together we have taken our technology, refined it and combined it with some great new concepts. Benoit is relentless when it comes to ironing out the wrinkles on any given design. He has made a great contribution to rigging design and packaging concepts. Finally, our technical support and marketing teams throw in their two bits. It gives us a great balance without the problems that arise from design by committee.
How will Adamson need to change in the future to stay ahead of the game?
Project Energia is our view of the future. It is not simply the next speaker for Adamson, but a whole generation of new technology including amplifiers, DSP, switches, software and AVB networking. I believe it is extremely important to maintain control and keep this technology within our walls. I have always felt this way about what we build. The advantage that it gives us is significant.
When competitor No.1 offers a product with the same OEM components as competitor No.2, we come along with something that is entirely unique, and it gives us the ability to have a performance advantage.
We also focus on ensuring that our production and our production equipment is ever evolving to remain efficient in the modern world of manufacturing. We have seen complete failure when some have tried to move everything offshore. But sourcing some simple parts that can be produced efficiently offshore, and maintaining a technically progressive manufacturing operation at home is, I believe, the correct balance.
As a Canadian manufacturer, how hard is it for you to conquer European markets?
Europe has always been good to us. France was very supportive from early on. In a market that has more than one of our competitors, we are a leader. This is a great example of how Europeans buy what they believe is the best product. Some other markets will buy based on a million other reasons before quality.
Will the focus of your efforts be more in the installation sector or the live sector in the future, and why?
Our focus is on the overall development of our brand on both sides of the industry. In many cases, one product overlaps both markets. Though phase one of Project Energia is definitely focused on touring.
What was the last gig you attended?
Arcade Fire on Toronto Island.
What occupies your free time?
Your desert island record?
The Beatles’ ‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’ [from the White Album] had some really interesting transitions in it. Pretty cool.
What would be your advice to a teenage Brock Adamson?
Don’t eat the brown acid.