Q&A with Florian Cossy of CH Precision

Solid-state power amplifiers,
Solid-state preamplifiers,
Integrated amplifiers,
Digital-to-analog converters
Q&A with Florian Cossy of CH Precision

What ignited your interest in the high end?  Did it come from the music side or the electronics side?
The entire story started about 30 years ago thanks to a good friend and his father, who were running a hi-fi shop and an audio distribution company in Switzerland. I was spending a lot of my free time and weekends at the shop, trying various product combinations when their demo room was not busy with customers. Like a kid in a candy shop!

What gear made up your first high-end system? 
The first real high-end setup I owned was a pair of Leedh Axiom speakers, a Verdier integrated amplifier, and a Marantz CD11 player. It took me years to build it, and I kept this setup for many years.

When did audio develop from a hobby into a career?
In fact, audio has almost never been a hobby. In order to be able to finance my studies, I worked for the distribution company I mentioned above. At that time, some well-known UK-based brands were, without knowing, entirely relying on a student for all their technical repairs in Switzerland! Then after my studies, my first job was at Goldmund. So very little room for the hobby side.

What education did you receive?
After regular school and exams, I studied at the Polytechnical School in Lausanne (EPFL) in the electricity department with a specialty in infotronic—a mixture of computer science (INFOrmatique in French) and elecTRONIC.

How do you define the difference between hi-fi and high-end audio?
Hi-fi is actually a norm that was introduced decades ago that defines for example the maximum distortion of an amplifier. Every audio product that one can buy nowadays complies with this norm. In opposition, high-end audio is something subjective that nobody has every defined with numbers. But to answer your question, hi-fi produces sound while high-end audio is supposed to recreate emotions.

Analog or digital? Do you have a preference?
Definitely no preference between analog and digital. It’s maybe simpler to say that I prefer to keep the original format into which the music was mixed and mastered, and to avoid any unnecessary and lossy conversion.

What interesting fact or aspect about CH Precision might surprise audiophiles?
I hope a lot! Let’s say that the most important point of our company is to think out-of-the-box. As an engineer, there is nothing more frustrating than copy-pasting the same thing or an old recipe that has no more secrets. Without re-inventing the wheel, all the products that CH Precision designed started from a blank sheet of paper with a clear re-definition of specifications and interfaces.

Looking toward the future, how will high-end systems change in the next ten years or so? 
If only I could see into the future! When looking at the past, most of what was obvious in terms of dematerialization was wrong—vinyl came back—so it’s very difficult to foresee what comes next and the awaited/needed evolution of high-end setups. There is, however, one thing that will come sooner or later: more energy-friendly setups. Efficiency-wise, loudspeakers are the weakest point as of today, and probably the biggest changes will come from there. And of course, when it happens, we will adapt the electronics in order to match these new technologies.

Going forward, what are the greatest challenges confronting the high end?
One of the biggest challenges awaiting the entire industry is to introduce and demonstrate high-end products to young people—the transition from wireless headphones to floorstanding speakers and the associated electronics to drive them is not an easy process. 

Outside of audio, what do you do for fun? 
I love to attend open-air festivals during summer in Switzerland, but also to gather with friends and share a good meal. And when time allows, a good bicycle ride into the Swiss Alps is always a treat.

What inspires you about your work?
What inspires me the most in my work is to find correlations between the objective work—simulations and measurements of circuits, algorithms into digital signal processors—and the subjective results/differences one can hear.