Q&A with John Quick of dCS

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Integrated amplifiers,
Disc players,
Digital-to-analog converters,
Music servers and computer audio
Q&A with John Quick of dCS

Did your interest in the high end come from the music side or the electronics side?
Actually, a little bit of both. Music was constantly playing at home when I was young, and since then it has always been a necessity for keeping me sane and centered. My father worked as a technician for Sony and Marantz/Superscope prior to 31 years at IBM, and he built kits and modified his own gear. When his Harman Kardon tube amplifier needed service, he took me through its inner workings and explained why he added a soft-start circuit. I also had a chemistry teacher in high school who had a serious sound system. He loved to talk music and gear, and he also gave me my first copy of TAS.

What gear made up your first high-end system?
Heading off to college I was the proud owner of B&W monitors, an Onkyo receiver, a Harman Kardon TD392 cassette deck, a Dual 1019 turntable, and a Marantz CD74, but that quickly morphed into Sonus Faber Minuettos, Conrad Johnson and Aragon separates, and a Pioneer PD65.

When did audio develop from a hobby into a career?
I began working part-time at my favorite hi-fi shop as one of my jobs during college. That job became full-time and eventually led me to another shop, then to an opportunity to work as a National Sales Manager. I started my own sales, marketing, and distribution company in 2005 and began working with dCS as a consultant in 2008.

What education did you receive?
I was a pre-med student but realized I was on the wrong path when my elective courses were far more interesting than my core requirements! I completed my BA in Biology and Psychology, then received a Master’s in Business Administration.

How do you define the difference between hi-fi and high-end audio?
Hi-fi aims to offer better sound to a broad range of listeners through a wide range of products at various price points—to simplify, better sound for the masses. High-end audio is a small subset of hi-fi specifically geared toward discerning music lovers and people who appreciate better, rarer, and, in some cases, dearer things. 

 

Analog or digital? Do you have a preference and why? 
I love both and believe that each should have a place in a music lover’s system and life. Of course, there are titles that are simply unavailable in one format or the other, and when it comes to ultimate playback quality there are times when one is truly better than the other due to the mastering. I also think a music lover should be able to get the best experience possible in the time he has to listen. Sometimes that allows for the rituals of LP playback, other times only sifting through the latest releases on Tidal or Qobuz.

How would you describe the dCS company philosophy?
At dCS we aim to be the leading manufacturer of digital audio components. That goal drives us to embrace change and to tackle new developments in digital audio objectively and in our unique way. It also drives an overall company culture to constantly assess, plan, and improve at everything we do.

 

What is the greatest misunderstanding people have about dCS components?
The Ring DAC—what it is exactly and how it works. We aim to do a much better job explaining it in the near future!

What interesting fact or aspect about dCS might surprise audiophiles?
Aside from dCS being instrumental in making DSD work, the timing of the Greenwich Time Signal (GST) as reported by the BBC’s hourly “pips” are kept by custom-designed dCS equipment.

 

What are the greatest challenges confronting the high end in the next few years?
Some will say this has always been the case, but it’s retaining our existing customer base while working to find future high-end audio enthusiasts. Not only do the younger generations consume music in different ways than they did in the past; pretty much everyone also shops and makes buying decisions differently today.

Outside of audio, what do you do for fun?
Although I travel constantly for work, I especially enjoy traveling with my family. It allows me to share some of the relationships and places I’ve come to enjoy and cherish. I also listen to music constantly and try to take in live concerts and shows as often as possible. Otherwise, I do my best to stay active when I’m not on the road. I’ve been a competitive athlete most of my life, and physical activity is the other necessity, along with music, that I need to keep myself centered.

What inspires you about your work?
Primarily, discovering and enjoying music through experiences with others who share my passion for it. But just as inspiring is the incredible group of talented, focused, and hardworking professionals I work with at dCS. We’re a hell of a team, and we wouldn’t be where we are without the sustained group effort.