Q&A with Valerio Cora of Acora Acoustics

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Q&A with Valerio Cora of Acora Acoustics

What ignited your interest in the high end? Did it come from the music side or the electronics side? 
It comes from one of my earliest memories of being at a New Year’s party with my family and hearing my first live big band. I was maybe five or six years old and I was totally mesmerized. I still remember the sounds of the brass section, woods, and percussion—so full of energy and life. A few days later I asked my mother to play some of what we heard, so out came the 1960-ish “hi-fi” phonograph in a suitcase. I remember being disappointed—I think that subconsciously started my quest. 

What gear made up your first high-end system? 
Early 80’s B&W dm7MK2, Revolver turntable/Linn Basik arm, Ortofon MC-2000/T-20 SOT, Philips cd650, Rotel RA820b (low power but very sweet), Angstrom cables and interconnects. Not a bad system for a teen with limited funds. 

When did audio develop from a hobby to a career? 
I started in the audio industry as a salesperson, assisting with in-store and car-audio setups back in 1978–1979. A very kind gentleman, one of the owners of Ava Electronics in Toronto, took a liking to me—a 12-year-old kid with a passion for learning audio and electronics. He let me hang around. After a while he gave me a job and off we went. I had been building amplifiers and speaker systems since the age of about eight with my older brother. From the music side I started playing the piano at about the same time, and then came sax, flute, trumpet, baritone. It has never really been a hobby or a career, but more of a passion and addiction. 

What education did you receive? 
No formal training in the audio industry. I’m self-taught in electronics and speaker-design and read almost every book on each subject while growing up. While my friends were reading comics, novels, and other things, I read technical journals, and anything else I could find on the design of loudspeakers, and the theory behind it. I also worked in the marble, granite, and audio industries for over 30 years. Been involved in both one way or another for pretty much my whole life. 

How do you define the difference between hi-fi and high-end audio? 
When music turns from simple background sounds to an emotional, intimate experience that goes beyond just the notes. 

Analog or digital? Do you have a preference and why? 
No preference. It may be a little easier to achieve entry “high end” with analog but both formats can be wonderful and have a place in audio. 

How would you describe Acora Acoustics’ philosophy? 
Our goal as a company is to have the audio system essentially disappear, and let the music flow as the artist, producer, and musicians intended.

What is the greatest misunderstanding people have about your loudspeakers? 
That the granite enclosure is some sort of gimmick, a selling point. It is not! It is in our opinion the best foundation for a speaker system. It is a small but immensely valuable piece of an enormous puzzle to allow the musicians to convey the music and more importantly their feelings and emotions to us. The fact that it looks amazing is a bonus. It is also why we only use one specific type of granite with very strict specifications. 

What interesting fact or aspect about Acora Acoustics might surprise audiophiles? 
That we design to room size and not a budget. Just because it costs more does not mean it will sound better in your listening environment. We will always recommend the right fit for the room/environment, as it is a big part of the final experience. 

What are the greatest challenges confronting the high end in the next few years?  
The same as they have always been—how to get a new generation interested in music beyond background and party noise. I still see it in my friends and family when they first experience “high-end,” that look of bewilderment that recorded music can be so involving and emotional. We need to support not only the artists that make this all possible, but the schools and art programs that introduce music to people at a young age. Once you are involved in the making of music in a band, choir, piano, it opens a whole new understanding, driving the desire for “high end.” 

Outside of audio, what do you do for fun? 
There’s a world outside of audio? Restoring and enjoying older classic cars, when things were made by hand, with love and soul. 

What inspires you about your work? 
The look of astonishment on people’s faces when listening, the quietness of 30+ people at a show listening to a piece of classical music, and seeing their enjoyment, the “Skater Boy” coming up to us at a show crying after listening to a cello sonata and saying “Thank you.” Having the artist and/or producer come up to us and say, “Yes it sounds exactly like we were in the recording room.” Seeing people finally “get it.”