FM Acoustics Resolution Series 122 & 222 Phono Linearizer/Preamplifier | FM 155 & 255 Preamplifier/Control Center | FM 411 Power Amplifier | FM 266 Preamplifier | FM 811 Power Amplifier | FM 244A Preamplifier | FM 300A Power Amplifier | Specifications for Classic Series Electronics, Classic Series, Resolution Series, Accessories, Forcelines, and Precision Interface Technology (Interconnect Cables)
FM Acoustics is owned by Manuel Huber, a brilliant and innovative audio and design engineer whose technical expertise is augmented by his deep and abiding love of music. For 23 years, Mr. Huber has been making high-precision preamplifier, power amplifier, and electronic crossovers for the professional audio industry. Famous as much for their reliability as for their performance, FM Acoustics electronic are in use in recording and broadcast facilities throughout the world.
Right on the lake of Zurich in Horgen, 15 minutes from Zurich city by train or car is the new home of FM Acoustics (former home was Tiefenhofstrasse 17, CH-8820 Wadenswil/Switzerland). The modern brand-new building has 60% more space, plenty of daylight and a nice view of the lake of Zurich and the eastern Alps. Their production and turnover has increased regularly over the years and this new building has larger custom designed burn-in rooms, parts stock, manufacturing area etc.. From this facility comes the most beautiful, precision-crafted, sophisticated and best-sounding preamplifier and power amplifier I have ever heard.
For the past 12 years, Huber has been involved in research and development of a totally uncompromised, cost-no-object preamplifier and power amplifier for the high-end audiophile market, his personal "Holy Grail". Huber has now introduced his new Resolution Series 811, 611, 411 amplifier and 244, 266 preamplifier. These products embody many of his famous innovative ideas in fabrication (including the use of custom-built, proprietary components) and include many unusual electronic features that contribute to performance, reliability, and protection of the equipment.
Huber's design philosophy is interesting. He quite rightly points out that amplifier design is a fairly mature technology. Huber feels there is much to be gained by the refinement and proper execution of many aspects of current amplifier designs. Many of these refinements are expensive, either in the basic cost of superior-quality components or in labor-intensive fabrication and testing procedures and techniques. In the pursuit of these refinements and the inclusion of his own ideas into his 244 preamplifier and 811 power amplifier, Huber has slain many sacred cows and stripped away some of the mythology that has encumbered amplifier design and fabrication for many years.
The FM Acoustics RS 244 preamplifier's 4mm thick aluminum enclosure is laser-cut and laser-polished to a unique satin finish. The front and back panel lettering is negatively anodized so it can never wear off. The FM RS 811 panels are also laser-polished to match the preamplifier. The front panel has an illuminated power switch and a central display that can indicate fault conditions.
More and more manufacturers put the money into exterior chassis design, exotic finishes, nicely glowing tubes and other sights for the eye, but audio performance?
Trying to impress people with eye catching designs has always been a way to get attention. This is fine for a "design" product that should primarily give visual attraction. However: while an attractive exterior can be a consideration, it should certainly not be the prime consideration in audio equipment. Unfortunately, when analyzing today's "high-end" products one has to realize that in many the main efforts are concentrated on the exterior rather than the interior of the units. The musical performance is often not impressive. In some flashy looking products priced at US$ 10,000., one finds cheap components and rather poor wiring. The units may look attractive, but sound reproduction is disappointing. Inspecting a unit that is priced close to US$ 90,000., one finds disappointing performance, mediocre components and really outdated technology. Not that a nice tube amp cannot have its charm: for someone who has a high-efficiency speaker system and listens mainly to vocals and smaller ensembles, this can be a good alternative, as many solid state designs are still somewhat lacking in musicality. However, one should not be tempted to buy overpriced products because of their looks. A good investment is one of lasting value which will sounds "right" even after years of use.
Flashy looking overpriced equipment has become more and more common (both in solid state and tube equipment). Indeed, a product selling for US$ 20,000. can be a better value for money than one selling for US$ 8,000. But more and more products are intentionally overpriced to make the client believe they are "valuable". Additionally, the overpriced product can then be offered with an impressive discount bullying the buyer into the belief that he got "a good deal". But this "deal" may after all provide little value for money. Do not get simply impressed by the looks or the price tag of a product. Look beyond the flashy surfaces and listen for a while; then consider the real value.
Often a good indication of the value is the price that second hand units are offered at. If the price has dropped to half the list price in a year or two, it is unlikely a wise investment. The most expensive is not always the best, but on the other hand, the best is very very rarely inexpensive.
If ever a product epitomized the term "built like a Swiss watch," it is this fabulous and engineering masterpieces that are the FM Acoustics preamplifier and power amplifier.
The Resolution Series is the ultimate range of audio electronics. The fact that there literally were no constraints on time, resources or finances has allowed FM Acoustics' engineering team to leave the beaten path of audio electronics design, try different ways to resolve common problems, optimize these new technologies and test these thoroughly before starting production. The result is not another pretentious looking unit filled with monstrous cooling fins, steel chassis or fancy design.
Instead, optimization of hundreds of little details has led to a reasonably sized and not over-weight range of products executed in a way unlike any other. There are always some who require a visual impact, who are impressionable with eye catching "design" styles or the "battleship" designs of other makes. Such units are fine as status symbols, but for those who listen, audio systems should first and foremost satisfy the ears. And this is what the Resolution Series is all about, nothing fancy or pushy,...but audio electronics that are true to the music.
The Resolution Series comprises several power amplifiers, preamplifiers and phono linearizers. Total dedication to achieve the absolute ultimate in accuracy, allows the use of manufacturing methods and selection procedures of entirely different standards. While some of the technology is unorthodox, it is always based on the proven laws of physics and on practical experiences in the field. It is not so that all- more or less- established design criteria are simply thrown overboard. The true laws of physics do not change but some of the existing theories and assumptions are simplistic and antiquated. There are far too many products indistinguishable from each other, too many products that fail to create musical involvement.
Those who have heard the Resolution Series components report again and again how "breathtaking" its incredible realism and accuracy is. This must be heard to be believed.
To arrive at such results other units used in conjunction with the Resolution Series, however, must be of the absolutely ultimate standard. In order to obtain optimal performance, a series of specific requirements must be fulfilled- requirements which may not be of great importance with other makes but which are an absolute necessity with the Resolution Series. By including a single non-optimal component- even "just" an interconnect cable- accuracy may be reduced. Only by paying extremely close attention to detail and by adhering to specific procedures can certain pitfalls be avoided and optimum performance of the Resolution Series be achieved.
The FM Acoustics power amplifier and preamplifier are the most sophisticated audio amplification equipment that I have ever encountered, and the build quality is breath-taking in its fastidious and meticulous craftsmanship.
There is much cutting-edge technology in these units in respect to such things as special power-supply circuitry and capacitors, the enormous output-current capabilities, an on-board computer that monitors (at 20 times per second) such things as d.c. offsets, high-frequency oscillation, continuous and peak output currents, rail voltage, output voltage, temperature, and bias. Extensive use of IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission), DIN (Deutsche Industrie Normenausschus) and MIL (Military specification or standard) approved components.
Here are some steps in the making of a FM Acoustics power amplifier:
Selecting power transistors: The reliability of a product stands or falls with the quality of its components. Have a look inside an FM Acoustics and you will immediately realize the difference. Only the best components from the world's leading manufacturers are used despite the higher cost.
Each and every component is checked at the supplier's factory, then checked again as soon as it arrives at the FM factory. After this all active devices go through a test set where different parameters are measured and the components are matched and colour coded.
Mounting power transistors on cooling fins: Power transistors are specially manufactured for FM Acoustics as there is no <<Standard>> transistor available that handles the extreme requirements of voltage, current, linearity and speed. All power transistors are additionally checked on a curve tracer at low and high temperature and different voltage and current levels. After this and other selections the transistors are carefully mounted by hand on the custom extruded cooling fins with torque-sensitive tools. Later the transistors as well as the insulation between each transistor and the cooling fin are measured with a specially built testing machine.
Hand-soldered audio circuit: The individual parts are assembled and each section like control print, peak reading LED display, power supply, audio stages etc. undergoes a function test. Then the different sections are mounted together and the product goes to a first calibration test.
Calibrating a FM 300A: The assembled amplifier is then transferred to the test bench where each amplifier is individually calibrated and compensated. Dozens of different parameters have to be measured by means of the most advanced testing facilities and specially built testing machines. The typical final testing time of a power amplifier amounts to five hours. After everything is o. k. the amplifier is moved into the specially built burn-in.
Amplifiers in the fully automated burn-in room: A specially built burn-in machine controls up to 12 amplifiers at the same time. The amplifiers are thermally cycled by varying power levels, cycle times etc. Temperature in the burn-in room is usually around 40 degree Centigrade, so that the amplifiers are strained harder than in any practical application. Every 5, 10 or 20 minutes the amplifiers are allowed to run on their quiescent current for a few minutes so that there are continuous temperature differences in all components.
The amplifiers are burnt-in for at least 50 hours continuously with a minimum of 200 thermal cycles. After this the amplifiers are placed on a vibration table for 2 hours, so that all mechanical and electronic parts are also stressed to levels far above any normal operation mode.
These are some of the reasons that the failure rate of FM products is between 3 and 10 times lower than those of the world's other leading manufacturers.
Final Test: The amplifiers are moved back to the test bench where the final test is performed. All parameters that have been measured at the calibration test are checked again and hand-entered in the instruction manual that is delivered with each product. After this final test the amplifiers are again inspected mechanically and then carefully packed.
Because every product is fully handmade the quantities that can be built are extremely limited (e.g. the maximum quantity of FM 800's that can be manufactured in one year is 400 pieces!). This of course is another reinsurance that quality is unmatched, as other manufacturers have to divide their care to ten-thousands and hundred-thousands of units. The difference can be seen, felt and heard.
Source: FM Acoustics News, FM Acoustics
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Created on November 12,1996, Last updated on May 23, 2007
Copyrightę 1996-2007 Created and maintained by Charles Keng, All Rights Reserved