Devoting Our Lives To The Pursuit Of Creating The Clearest Possible Window On The Original Performance – Vol.4

Devoting Our Lives To The Pursuit Of Creating The Clearest Possible Window On The Original Performance – Vol.4

TOOLS OF OUR TRADE
THE BEST SOUNDING SPEAKERS

After two decades at Bowers & Wilkins, working with founder John Bowers and his elite team of acoustic engineers, I learned the importance of seeking approval from professional recording engineers before releasing any new product. Throughout the 80s and early 90s, I expanded our clientele to include esteemed record labels like DECCA, EMI Abbey Road, Deutsche Grammophon, RCA USA, and DENON Japan. Our enduring relationship with Abbey Road transcended my tenure at Bowers & Wilkins.

Attending numerous recording sessions worldwide, I developed close relationships with recording engineers and studios, fueling my passion to understand every facet of music production. Beginning with an artist’s composition, I navigated through the intricacies of the production process, ultimately striving to deliver the best possible sound through the speakers trusted by our clients.

In 1993 we introduced Laurence Dickie’s masterpiece – NAUTILUS, a milestone in our journey.

First production pair of Nautilus & Matrix 1 at Brownhill Farm Studios.

In Johannesburg sound engineer Peter Thwaites used the latest B&W monitors we shipped for the 1994 OUTERNATIONAL MELTDOWN project, Peter transitioned to using Bowers & Wilkins loudspeakers exclusively for his sound engineering and mastering work. 

A good decade later my introduction to South African-produced VIVID AUDIO’s high-end loudspeakers marked a turning point for Peter Thwaites.

ex-B&W Chief Engineer Laurence Dickie to form VIVID AUDIO

Following Laurence Dickie’s departure from B&W, he dedicated himself to researching and developing new technologies aimed at enhancing the legendary performance of Nautilus. Leveraging his expertise gained from research and product development at PA company TURBOSOUND, Dickie embarked on this task.

Since co-founding VIVID AUDIO with Philip Guttentag in 2004, Dickie has continually amazed the demanding world of high-end performance sound reproduction with his innovative technologies and unprecedented levels of innovation. With a little help from my side Philip Guttentag partnered with our ex-B&W Chief Engineer Laurence Dickie to form VIVID AUDIO in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.

To introduce their technologies to the Professional Recording Studios market, VIVID AUDIO sponsored Peter Thwaites and outfitted his recording studio with a pair of OVAL V1’s as near field monitors and floor standing OVAL K1’s for listening back and monitoring. The K1 floor-stands at 1.3m in height. In those days K1 represented the largest of the range and incorporated a coupled front and back bass driver system along with an integral stand. The near-field monitor V1 models utilise C125 aluminium cone drivers to handle the range up to 3kHz. These drivers are mounted on soft silicone rubber O-rings within the proprietary cast carbon fibre loaded polyester enclosure, effectively minimising structural resonance. As a result, these patented drivers deliver exceptional mid-range transparency and articulate bass, characteristics common to all VIVID products.

IN HONOUR OF PETER THWAITES

After Peter Thwaites’ musical journey sadly ended in 2023, his K1 speakers were sent to VIVID AUDIO’s factory for an overhaul. Unfortunately, the speakers were badly damaged in transport and deemed too costly to repair at VIVID. Personally, I couldn’t bear to see these witnesses of musical creation, carrying the spirit of many of South Africa’s greatest musicians, go to waste. Thankfully, the factory’s former production manager, Graeme Kidson, who ran Carbon Craft in Durban, came to my rescue and supported my plans to properly repair them. I wanted to dedicate the K1’s to the memory of one of our nation’s finest sound engineers.

We commissioned Kanya Nombewu, born in 1996 in the Eastern Cape, to apply his love for art, graphic design, and spray painting to showcase some of the MELT 2000 artists whose careers are intimately linked to Peter Thwaites. Thus, we recycled the very pair of K1’s that had helped send messages of joy to so many dedicated music lovers in Africa and around the world.

ARTIST IMPRESSIONS & BACKGROUND

Kanya Nombewu explains the background of his research and work presenting the following artists who are linked to Peter Thwaites work for MELT 2000.

Speaker One: 

From the Bushman of The Kalahari Adventures:

!Gubi Teitei – Tribal Elder and Healer from the Kalahari with Pops Mohamed & Madala Kunene

Speaker Two: 

Busi Mhlongo & Moses Taiwa Molelekwa:

“The theme of this project was guided by the different traditional origins of the artists associated with Peter Thwaites.

The Vivid Audio K1 has a unique shape different from any speakers I have seen so the shape played a huge role in the approach of this tribute project. Each speaker was designed to have a portrait on each side and a Zulu shield at the back of the speaker from KwaZulu Natal, the province where the speakers are manufactured.

The shields on the back are a representation of different heritages so I used two-tone colours in each shield referencing the animal skins used in our cultures for shields & traditional attire. It is said that the Zulu shield inspired the original design of VIVID AUDIO’s OVAL Series.

The piano keyboard on the front of the speakers represents the music and instrument Moses Taiwa Molelekwa is famous for.

The triangles are well-known traditional “nguni” patterns which represent the male & female, the diamond means a married woman, the circles symbolise God, and the colour pinstripes at the bottom symbolise emotions.

Peter Thwaites’ field recordings in the Kalahari with Pops Mohamed are reflected in the paintings of Khew / Khoisan art.

They are known as the heritage of the tribe elder and healer !Gubi Tietei who shares one side of the speaker playing with his friend Pops Mohamed. Each side of the K1 bases are full of figures inspired by the ancient Bushmen cave paintings that can be found in many mountains across South Africa.

In order to get this done I decided to digitally design and size up the stencils to keep the scale of the patterns & portraits the same for both speakers. This process meant I would have to use the additive method using the dark background and each colour as bright light bouncing off the background revealing the images we see in the final product.”

CULTURAL LEGACY


With the support of art and music lovers and cultural organisations this unique pair of speakers will be showcased on a tour , to be seen and heard before they find a prominent place in a Museum where they share the joy and good energy Peter Thwaites and his life-long work brought us.

LAURENCE DICKIE 2024
FROM NAUTILUS TO MOYA

The Moya M1 was conceived during a unique circumstance. Quarantined in a hotel room for 10 days due to the global pandemic, Laurence Dickie began sketching out an idea for a speaker that could excel in all aspects.

Physically, the concept underwent many evolutions during the research and development phase, but the core vision remained unwavering: to create the pinnacle of loudspeakers, capable of handling any genre of music with finesse. The goal was to design a speaker so endowed with power and authority, especially in the lower frequencies, that it could effortlessly reproduce any musical genre with grace.

As the Vivid Audio team entered the testing phase, the design of the Moya started to take form. An imposing stack of bass drivers emerged as the defining feature of its curvaceous design. Initial results confirmed that an extended low-frequency range contributes significantly to the overall sonic perspective.

Undoubtedly, a loudspeaker encompasses more than just bass, but the lower frequency section plays a pivotal role. It dictates system efficiency, and while it’s relatively easy to create high-efficiency mid-band drivers, their output needs to be balanced with the bass.

IN PURSUIT OF THE BEST SOUNDING LOUDSPEAKER FROM NAUTILUS TO MOYA

MOYA M1: PUSHING THE ENVELOPE

"In most loudspeakers, the bass section determines performance, constrained by the laws of physics. A cone's movement at a given frequency supplies a fixed number of dBs. Increasing cone area doubles the volume of air moved, resulting in a halving of cone excursion. The C225 driver, with its 45mm magnetic gap, is impressive, but dividing the excursion among eight drivers ensures they operate effortlessly while delivering a massive auditory impact."

Since the 1970’s a sound studio or dedicated listening room has been Robert’s place of peaceful focus and joy.

 

1993

 

In 1993, the Heathside Mastering room at our residence in West Sussex, UK, served as the venue for Dic and me to listen to and assess Nautilus during its development phase. The speakers depicted in the image below are a wooden prototype and included non-aluminium cone bass units. By 1994, the inaugural production pair of Nautilus was set up at our Brownhill Farm Studio, marking the commencement of the chapter dedicated to the recording of sound – the chapter DEVOTING OUR LIVES TO THE RECORDING OF SOUND truly began.

2023

 

Three decades later in South Africa, my listening room and studio took on the role of evaluating the wooden prototype of VIVID AUDIO’s MOYA M1 during its development phase. This experience was emotional for me because my ingrained memory of how speakers sound still held true. What stood out most was the effortless manner in which these speakers reproduce every genre of music.

The first prototype prompted one of the factory Zulu team members to baptise the new model WASHU’ MJONDOLO which loosely translated means THE SHACK IS ON FIRE. Perfect name for a 16 bass unit speaker when throwing a party – 
it does put all that Amapiano House music right on fire !

 M2KR & MOYA M1

2022, I partnered with KAYA 959 radio DJ NickyB to launch a dedicated remix label. www.m2kr.co.za

 

MELT2000 Revisited, introduced a new generation of South African music lovers to the artists of the exciting 1990s era. Many of these artists, such as Busi Mhlongo, Moses Taiwa Molelelekwa, and Madala Kunene, had become icons revered by the Z Generation.

Having the opportunity to utilise the prototype of Moya, equipped with a total of 16 bass units, brought me immense joy. As a fully fledged OAP  I am incredibly grateful to Laurence and Philip for allowing me to borrow these prototypes, as my pension income would not cover the financial burden that comes with owning such a beautiful and handcrafted sound sculpture like MOYA M1

Finally on March 14th 2024 another giant step in music reproduction with VIVID AUDIO’s flagship MOYA M1 was revealed.

Short clip on the painted K1 speakers dedicated to Peter Thwaites and Laurence dickie’s two most significant loudspeaker developments – Nautilus ( B&W Loudspeakers 1993) and MOYA M1 by VIVID AUDIO.

I can only hope that those who are able to afford a pair of MOYA M1’s will listen to and enjoy them as much as I do the early  wooden prototype.

A series of short videos initiated by myself sitting down and celebrating 40 years of friendship with my mate Laurence Dickie. 4 decades in pursuit of the best possible reproduced sound of an original performance.
John Bowers, Robert Trunz, Peter Hayward B&W’s 20th Anniversary 1986 in Montreux, Switzerland

APPRECIATION 

 

I dedicate this blog or project to Peter Thwaites, John Bowers, Peter Hayward, founder and co-founder of Bowers & Wilkins, Chris Lewis , and Laurence Dickie – my mentors who guided me through both the realms of recording and sound reproduction.

Those who had to bear with me working on endless projects over the past 50 years must be thanked for their patience and for what I learned from that experience. Over the more recent years I have come to admire the staff at VIVID AUDIO for their skills and I hope that one day their more reluctant costumers realise that Made in South Africa can be lekker. A special thanks to Jojo Yongama and John Coulson for bearing with me. 

Two decades ago, Philip Guttentag orchestrated a visit to Cape Town to share his dream of crafting the premier loudspeakers in South Africa. Without hesitation, I embraced this visionary idea wholeheartedly. Philip having been a partner in the B&W distribution company in South Africa, urged me to discuss his aspirations with my friend Laurence Dickie who since my departure from B&W also been on his own path. Philip and Dic’s  partnership has since blossomed into an inspiring journey of innovation and excellence at VIVID AUDIO.

Over the years, VIVID AUDIO has continually impressed with its top end range of products, groundbreaking innovations, and unwavering excitement for pushing boundaries in audio technology. Philip’s steadfast belief in the brand and tireless investment over two decades have been instrumental in realising this dream. He truly deserves a resounding congratulations for his dedication and commitment. Here’s to Philip and Dic and the remarkable achievements of VIVID AUDIO!

I also want to acknowledge the invaluable contributions of the fine sound engineers and individuals who have paved the way for me to experience sonic joy and countless hours of happiness. Special thanks to John Dunkerley & James Lock from DECCA, Klaus Hiemann from Deutsche Gramophone, Richard Edwards & Chris Lewis who engineered so many of the B&W MUSIC/MELT 2000 projects.

I say thanks for the contributions to the writings, photos and videos used in this blog to Michael Coulson, Dick Jewell, Libera Benedetti, Norma Fletcher, Ben Watkins, Pops Mohamed, Lianne Cox, Nick Hauser, Paul Bradshaw, Pete Williams, Ian Swifty, Jon Kemp and everybody I did not list here.

Grateful for the creative work of my fellow space traveller and AI expert Douw Jordaan who designed this website – Thanks !

Most importantly let me express my gratitude to the Universe for the gift of an enduring love for music and to all the creative and talented artists who enrich our lives with their creations. Time to tell the story and enjoy the retirement encouraged by talented South African artist Azah who messaged me “🙌🏿You have served well Robert 👏🏾Thank you

It’s been an honour to serve.

Robert Trunz

April 2024

thie

Compiled and edited by Douw Jordaan of GoodCloud

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