Wednesday, January 12, 2011

DOWN TO ZERO

Several years ago while in Hong Kong, I was chatting with an old friend, Max Roberts. Max, retired now, was a distributor of audio products in Australia for just about 40 years. Max knew what he was talking about. He had been in the business since the beginning of stereo and worked with some of the best companies in the world. "High fidelity is not subjective.", he told me. "A piano recording should sound like a live piano; you should be able to hear the wood overtones in a violin. Hi-fi is absolutely objective."

Max's comment resonated deeply with me, I realized he had just defined the driving force behind NHT. We have designed lots of speakers over the years, some better than others and everyone seems to have a different favorite. Never-the-less, I can say with certainty they all offer high fidelity sound.

Until recently the speaker we were most proud of? Not the 3.3, not Xd, but the $250/pair, little Super Zero. In our opinion, if you have a enough money, making a really good speaker is relatively easy. Mass producing a true, high fidelity speaker with a very low cost of materials is pretty difficult, that's why there aren't very many. It was our most popular speaker of all time, particularly with budget-constrained music lovers. The "Zero" concept has evolved into something different today. The Absolute Zero is a wonderful product, but it has changed; now sporting a larger woofer, different tweeter, dressy-lacquered cabinet and unfortunately a higher price.

Just two months ago we quietly introduced the Super Zero 2.0. Is it exactly the same as the original? It looks very much like it but it's not the same... its actually better. While it may seem trivial, it is impossible to clone a loudspeaker. You just can't do it and honestly we did not try. What we attempted with the 2.0 version was to take the original's sonic signature, mix in some of what we learned from making professional recording monitors (M-00) and widened off-axis response. And what you get is; 1) midrange and highs comparable to really expensive speakers, 2) incredible sonic detail (you can mix a record on these) and 3) you don't have to sit in the sweet spot to enjoy them.

The best part? Our everyday price is now $99 each, 25% less than in 1994. Can you get a bigger sound stage and better dynamics from our's or other's larger speakers? Of course you can. But on our little Super Zero 2.0's, you can hear reverb tails left accidentally in recordings, you can hear the bow of a bass violin excite its wood body and hear fingers sliding across new guitar strings as if you were there.

And this is our point. High fidelity should not come with a price penalty. At NHT it doesn't. This is what we are most proud of. We hope you enjoy them.

2 comments:

Woodrow said...

Chris - FANTASTIC news, I have two pair of the original Super Zeros in storage, "just in case". These are some of my most favorite speakers of all time. I will be purchasing a pair of the version 2.0 models immediately. Question - what is your sub-woofer recommendation for the new models?

Congratulations, and please blog more often if you can.

Mike Bollinger said...

Zeros were my first real speaker back in Junior High, Our Family Business, TV Specialists had just picked up NHT and I got some for Christmas, I had them hooked up to a boom box, they sounded awesome! I remeber listening to Aerosmith's toys in the Attic (my first CD) and hearing things I hadn't ever heard before, it was amazing! And although I've had a variety of NHT Speakers, those Zero's are still at my Dad's house, and I have a pair of the next gen super Zero's (not 2.0's) I still love them even though I have Fours, Threes, M5's, etc. I'm definately an NHT guy.