Q&A with Jorn Janczak of Tidal Audio

Q&A with Jorn Janczak of Tidal Audio

What ignited your interest in the high end? Did it come from the music side or the electronics side?
Both! Disassembling our old TV, taking out the speaker, and building it into an Adidas shoebox. The first song I listened to was “The Sun Always Shines On T.V.” from A-ha, and it was a real wow experience for me when I was ten. 

What gear made up your first high-end system? 
I always had self-made gear, so the first “real system” was actually a Tidal one—15 years after starting the company. I thought it would be cool to own my own, too. 

What particular loudspeaker made the strongest impression on you when you were starting out?
Sound-wise: I do not remember the brand, but it was a ribbon dipole speaker as big as a garden-house door. Aesthetically: the original active Nautilus speaker from B&W.

When did audio develop from a hobby into a career?
When I was 23 years old and frustrated with my job as production manager at a German high-end company. And when I had maybe one beer too many with my best friends.

What education did you receive?
My background is the high-precision metal-tooling industry, after a polytechnical school education. 

How do you define the difference between hi-fi and high-end audio?
Actually it is all hi-fi—just audio technology to reproduce music. High end is often a phrase in between, and often defined by a price tag in my opinion. All I can say is that the definition of high end, as we see it, reflects through our products. We strive to consistently build the best components we can at the highest quality we can.

Analog or digital? Do you have a preference?
I like both. At the end of the day, I care about the results only. The recording quality is more important than the format. And for me the music is more important than the recording quality.

What interesting fact or  aspect about Tidal might surprise audiophiles?
Maybe how we define quality: We use forty pounds of piano lacquer for our smallest speaker, the Piano, and 230 pounds (per piece) for our biggest one, the LA Assoluta. Also each veneered speaker has two outside layers of veneer per side—even at the bottom plate we use two layers of veneer (3mm perfectly flat piano lacquer), although once we add our bottom plate no one ever sees it. And don’t get me even started on the crossovers, etc.

How will high-end systems change in the next ten years or so? 
Since I have no proven talent to see what’s to come in the next ten years, I can only say that since this is out of our hands to control, we will follow a very clear vision and plan for the next decade to fix and extend our position and to build wonderful products for people who love music.

Going forward, what are  the greatest challenges confronting the high end?
Removing the dust from old structures; making a younger generation interested in enjoying music as part of life quality. Boring hi-fi shows in boring hotels playing boring music aren’t exactly sexy. Especially to people who think great sound comes from Spotify via earplugs from smartphones.

What do you do for fun? 
First and above all, my beloved family. But also photography, art, and mechanical watches. Also, whenever I find time, riding handmade Italian race bicycles, British two-cylinder motorcycles, or something faster on four wheels.

What inspires you about  your work?
I love creating all aspects of our products from the first idea, to bringing it to reality, to making it ready for the installation for happy clients all over the world. It is important to me that we guarantee great jobs for our dedicated employees and meeting nice new people who understand our efforts. Tidal owners are part of our family. Making a living from doing what I love is just the icing on the cake. 

Note: Tidal is a German manufacturer of complete audio systems and is not to be confused with the streaming service of the same name.