The word quiescent means free from disruption and noise - at peace. And the truth is, that in any electronic replay system, there are many forms of unwanted disruption. The trick is to correctly identify these and then eliminate them. That's the key objective of our equipment design aims. We also strive to avoid ownership problems, again a form of disruption, from things like bespoke-designed software that is poor to operate and hard to keep up to date. And you could say that ‘at peace’ is also peace of mind for you, the potential owner. The way we sell direct means that the money you spend is a far better investment – much more of your money goes into the equipment, rather than big margins for middle men.
Quality and reliability are central to our ownership proposition. Quiescent products are built with longevity in mind but just in case, we provide a Lifetime Support Agreement (LSA). Our parent brand, Vertex AQ, has been selling products since 1999 and returns for repair over that whole period have been in single figures, with most of those being accidental damage.
The long-term support of software in our digital products is an important ownership consideration. Streamers are the real issue, and many manufacturers create bespoke streaming packages that are often unwieldy to use, unreliable and can suffer from poor ongoing updates and support. So we are only using open-architecture standards in our streamers, allowing Quiescent customers to choose the streaming software of their choice, such as JRiver, Kodi, or Plex. But to also provide a great ‘out-of-the-box’ solution, we have partnered with roon and TIDAL which can be pre-installed and ready to go – you will be able to use and test the roon product for a period of sixty days without being charged. If you don’t like it, you can choose your own preference.
Our open-standards approach also extends to data formats. Over the years, consumers of high-end audio have been offered a multitude of formats starting from the Redbook standard for CD, and on to Super Audio CD, DVD-A and 24-bit PCM formats. DSD (from the original SACD) is now available at various sample rates and there is now DXD and MQA too. Whilst most of these are open, MQA has bigger issues, requiring unfolding in both hardware and software. And then there is DSD and whilst DSD over PCM is a well developed open-standard format, an accurate conversion solution is very complex, requiring a custom-built DAC board for native DSD conversion. So our digital products will only use mature open standards based PCM, eg red book up to LPCM, ALAC, WAV, FLAC. And critically, our streamers are configured to do the conversion from say WAV or FLAC to the required data stream of S/PDIF or USB, with the minimum of disruption. And likewise, our DACs will employ Red Book 16bit conversion as currently all more modern solutions are too disruptive to the musical presentation.
User support is critical too. We will provide extensive support such training about streaming, advice on system architecture and system-building with Quiescent components as well as advice on mains and room treatment issues (from our Vertex AQ and LeadingEdge background of course).
Then there is our Lifetime Support Agreement (LSA) – a major element in our strategy for happy ownership. This has several parts to it. Firstly, it's a guarantee. There's a full parts and labour cover for five years from the date of purchase. All we ask is that you ship the product in question to us and, if we agree it's a warranty issue, we put your machine back in perfect working order and ship it back at our cost. The LSA also entitles you to free email and phone support, for ever. And there may be, from time-to-time, upgrades to the design of our products that are backwards compatible (for example, an improvement to power supply components). In this case, we will offer owners of the older model the upgrade, in a return-to-works program that would be very attractively priced for the performance gain on offer. As a Quiescent owner, for example, you will be invited to closed-door demos and special briefings about new developments – perhaps at the end of a busy hi-fi show day.
When it comes to good quality and value, nothing is as big a game-changer as selling direct. The old model of distributors and dealers is fraught with problems. It's often the case that the amount of money in the distributor's and dealer's cut is much bigger than the manufacturer's cut. So, after all their production and operating costs, many manufacturers are left with very little extra – not a healthy situation for us, or you, because it means so little of your money ends up available for product development, quality, and support. And of course, when a customer pays a high purchase price there's a considerable amount of sales tax added – cut out those big margins and you've also reduced the tax bill.
Another problem with the old business model is that control of the sale price is really held with an unconnected group of distributors and dealers around the world. Inevitably some of those businesses become brand collectors and dumpers, or have cashflow issues that soon results in discounting. In the longer term this hurts both the manufacturer and the end-customer as it forces the brand's products onto eBay in large numbers. So in essence, if there isn't the cash sloshing around in huge margins for the middlemen then prices, and brand reputation, remain much more stable.
But for a global hi-fi manufacturer there's one obvious downside to not having dealers. How do customer's hear equipment demonstrations? So what we are doing is appointing just a few carefully selected Quiescent Consultants. These guys don't hold any Quiescent stock (we provide the demo units) and customers still buy directly from us through the website. Together with our consultants, we will ensure you get the best advice on our products, how they work and how to get the best out of them and if a consultant facilitates a sale, we pay them a commission that is nearer to the standard in other industries. Also, if we as the manufacturer, want to make promotions and offers, say a Black Friday sale, then we can do that fairly, right across the world, to every customer.
Another important element to buyer experience is our Part-Exchange Scheme. This scheme is helpful for customers who already own Vertex AQ or Quiescent products who may want to part exchange in order to upgrade. It is also beneficial for new customers wanting to access quality pre-owned stock.
Every manufacturer talks about great performance. But if great performance was so easy to achieve, why does so much equipment ultimately disappoint? Ask yourself honestly, when you last visited a hi-fi show, how many of the setups you heard sounded poor? And in demonstrations, most manufacturers and distributors tend to use only carefully selected music – simple tracks that don’t stress the systems being evaluated. A sorry situation that’s incorrectly justified by the assertion that most mainstream media is poorly recorded.
The problem is that most systems struggle to retain the integrity of the musical signal from one end to the other. Many years ago, traditional hifi thinking used the mantra “garbage in equals garbage out” – so designs were kept high-quality - and purist, so that each stage of the chain did not pass garbage onto the next. These days though it’s become the norm to rely on techniques such as re-clocking, correction algorithms of many variations, high levels of feedback and so-on – in essence to correct the damage after it occurs. And when designers come to rely on this ‘correction’ philosophy, they then don’t make the effort to identify and treat the underlying disruptive processes and conditions. And the truth is that artificial ‘fixes’ never sound as good as curing the problems in the first place.
But the real sting in the tail is this:
- The damage to the musical signal caused by underlying disruptive processes and conditions increases with the complexity of the music.
- The damage to the musical signal caused by applying artificial correction techniques increases with the complexity of the music.
And when these two are both left unchecked they have a very bad ‘cross multiplying effect’ – the overall sound quality damage gets rapidly worse even with moderate increases in the complexity of the recording. But only tackling the underlying disruptive processes, or only eliminating the artificial fixes, delivers only a moderate improvement in performance – the problem isn’t properly solved. It’s only when both are dealt with at depth that there’s a ground-breaking leap in performance. So, putting it simply, treating both of these two critical factors together is the Quiescent USP.
Key Quiescent design goals for reducing disruptive processes and conditions:
- Eliminate the effects from external RFI/EMI and vibration.
- Eliminate the effects from internal RFI/EMI and vibration, both globally within the component and within and between each sub-system.
- Provision of very low noise, very high speed power supplies (usually linear with two stages of regulation).
- Make provision to defeat systems when not required (e.g. USB when using S/PDIF).
- Eliminate unnecessary fan cooling systems, control systems and displays.
Key Quiescent design goals for reducing damaging correction techniques:
- Eliminate the use of unnecessary data streaming conversions (such as MQA).
- Eliminate the use of oversampling, complex noise shaping and error correction algorithms.
- Eliminate unnecessary data clocking or re-clocking.
- Use of passive input or output stages where possible (e.g. DAC passive I/V output stage)
- Use of high-speed/low ratio amplifier feedback techniques for necessary gain stages.
All this is undoubtably a lot of effort to go to and it means our machines are built like no others. But the performance they deliver is astonishing, and breathtaking. This is where the true value of our products lie – because we build them this way they deliver remarkable musical clarity and stability, pace and beauty – incredible realism. And putting more than one Quiescent component in a system makes the gains yet more profound.
A lot of manufacturers make a lot of bold assertions about the performance of their products, so do we. All we ask is that you give ours a listen and see for yourself by contacting one of our Sales Consultants.