Aletheia Components – Background
Many years ago we realised that it was critically important to have a good understanding of the types of designs and functionality of all the common components. CD players, transports, DACs, pre-amps, power-amps and so-on all required analysis to understand how they suffered from systematic interactions. For example, how a pre-amp output stage and a power-amp input stage react with each other in terms of RFI or microphony passing up and down the interconnect? How did this change if the input and output stages used solid-state devices or valves? How did the components internal structure, casework and power-supplies affect things?
This process was critical in the development of all the Vertex infrastructure components. We never tried to develop an interconnect say, by just trying different conductors and plugs, and comparing them to other manufacturers cables, in a single setup (this is not the right way to develop cables). But by understanding how different types input and output stages responded to the application of Vertex technology directly, enabled us to better work out how it could be applied in the cable. We could understand all the likely effects in a range of applications, and produce a cable that would best tackle the faults of the different types of circuits.
But there was another seriously good spinoff from all this work – we were building up tremendous in-depth knowledge about the internal infrastructure issues of components.
In parellel with all this, we had been working with Dr Gareth Humphreys-Jones (Knowledge Alliance) and learning about the mathematics of systematic faults, and also the mathematics of signal processing. And all the signal processing knowledge changed our understanding of things like the pros and cons of filter algorithms, feedback, power supply design and so-on.
Development of the Aletheia Components
So it’s this background that led us to start the development of the Aletheia DAC and balanced PSU designs. The balanced PSU’s came first, but in the form of the old Vertex AQ Elbrus. This was a very good unit that was successful for about 3 years (in small numbers). But it had a rather complicated and bulky ‘double transformer’ system, using off-the-shelf transformers. When we revamped the design as the Aletheia balanced PSU we simplified and improved the transformer element with a single transformer specially wound to our requirements. We also significantly improved the individual filtering of each balanced output, producing overall a better product than the old Elbrus.
Next came the development of the Aletheia DAC topology. Here we broke down all the elements of the DAC into a system-of-systems, and added significant protection too from all the external artefacts that could affect the performance. In essence the DACs are a complete systematic approach in a box.
In 2016 we turned our attention towards loudspeakers and amplifiers
With loudspeakers we felt there was another huge opportunity to find better sound quality, so we started the the development of a speaker that would not suffer from some of those same design and performance problems that we had become acutely aware of in other parts of the replay system – and in other loudspeaker designs!
So we are developing a range of loudspeakers which use a single full-range driver (so no crossover) in a sealed enclosure. And these designs are full of anti-vibration and EMI/RFI absorption too of course. The first of these is the Aletheia FRS-8 which is available from October 2016. See more details in the right hand menu.
And also in 2016 we have been developing amplification. Our first power amp, called the Aletheia AP-60 saw its ‘test’ outing at NAS in Sep 2016, but not in its final casework. Again see right for more information.