What ignited your interest in the high end?
It was in 1980 (I was 14 years old), when a new guy moved into our neighborhood. He was a full-time professional DJ and we’re still close friends to this day. The first time I heard his system was a literal moth-to-the-flame moment for me! I knew in an instant that designing and building high-performance loudspeakers was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. The sound he was getting from his system was so much better than anything I had ever been exposed to—I was hooked.
Did your interest come from the music side or the electronics side?
Both. I was being tutored at trumpet at age 11. Excelling on the drums by age 12. I begged my parents for my own stereo at age 9 as a birthday present and then a new and improved stereo at age 12. From age 12, my stereo system would change on a weekly basis. It was a constant research project over any type of hi-fi system. Even my 6th-grade teacher saw something special growing within me. She allowed me to leave the classroom to work alone for hours at a time to fiddle with electrical test equipment in an adjacent library storage closet. My grandfather was a carpenter by trade, so I was exposed to his wood skills and cabinetry before I could even walk. Most importantly, out of all of this came my love and passion for loudspeakers. I was obsessed with them and soon discerned that the loudspeaker was the dominant component in the audio chain and that I had some serious creative license. It’s a lot like a recording engineer at a mixing console. I discovered I could make the loudspeaker sound and do anything I wanted it to, which was rewarding for me.
What gear made up your first high-end system?
I was a mid-teenager and my elderly next door neighbor took me into his basement one day and basically said, “Eric, I think you need this stuff a lot more than I do.” Then he gave me his flawlessly pristine stereo system that consisted of a Garrard turntable, Fisher tuner, Dynaco pre- amplifier, and Dynaco ST-70 amplifier. The speakers were my own creation—a pair of Altec Lansing Voice of the Theater clones. Those giant horns took me a few weeks to create, but they sure sounded sweet and looked even better.
When did audio develop from a hobby to a career?
By age 18 I was confidently building and selling hand-built loudspeakers. My first official speaker-building business was created at age 22.
How do you define the difference between hi-fi and high-end audio?
For me, hi-fi extrapolates to the love and fun of music and audio gear—anything goes in this camp for me. I believe high-end audio is the pursuit of musical perfection through art and science and pushes the fidelity/realism envelope to a new level of performance.
Analog or digital? Do you have a preference?
Yes, digital. When I’m serious about hearing exacting perfection, it’s always been digital. When I switch to pure analog it usually turns into simply having fun. However, I’m far from being all-in with digital. I believe the digital medium lacks a subtly quantifiable immersive/emotional component that only exists in the realm of pure analog.
What interesting fact or aspect about Tekton might surprise audiophiles?
Some audiophiles continue to think of Tekton Design as a DIY operation because of our conservative visual look. This couldn’t be further from the truth. We never offered a single DIY model, and this is no hobby operation. Tekton Design has 142 loudspeaker SKUs and our team can produce over 60 different loudspeaker models on any day of the week. We have a modest speaker factory with a growing team of passionate audio professionals and numerous innovative loudspeaker patents. We truly love what we do.
Going forward, what are the greatest challenges confronting the high end?
Two things: introducing young people to proper fidelity and sound principles so they will be more inclined to consider becoming an audiophile; and the local hi-fi store is going the way of the dodo and that’s not good.
Outside of audio, what do you do for fun?
Motorsports. We own four race cars—all of them dragsters. We’re really having fun with very fast cars at the moment. If and when I ever get finished with my audio endeavors, I’ll be moving right into designing and assembling methanol and nitromethane racing engines. This is a personal passion I simply had to walk away from years ago, in order to focus upon my loudspeaker/audio endeavors.
What inspires you about your work?
Our clients. We all love music—that’s what this is about. It’s always inspiring for us to hear from our clients once they’ve had their speakers for a few days. Hearing how much they love their new speakers makes all of the hard work meaningful and rewarding.