Profession: Audio Engineer, Founder of Funktion One
Date & Place of Birth: 9 April 1949, Cheam, South London, UK
You founded Funktion One in 1992, what was the catalyst that inspired you to become both a company owner and product designer?
I’ve always been a loudspeaker designer first and company owner second – with Funktion One now, Turbosound in the late-70s and 80s and before that when I had several smaller companies. I’ve been designing loudspeakers for over 45 years. The catalyst back then was to get hi-fi quality sound for large-scale concerts. At that time, there wasn’t a professional audio industry to speak of and the sound for gigs was somewhat underpowered. I wanted to change that.
At that point in time, what were your ambitions for the PA market place?
Audio performance has always been at the core of every new development and every new loudspeaker I’ve designed. I started out in the live and touring world and have always felt a strong connection with it. We had a lot of success and did some incredible gigs with the Festival System, TMS 3, Flashlight and Floodlight most notably, Roger Waters’ Berlin Wall concert for 350,000 people. Line-array arrived but I couldn’t believe in it sonically, particularly outside, but the industry moved in that direction, with convenience seeming to become the main driving force rather than sound quality.
That pushed us more towards the electronic music scene, which, from a technical point of view, wasn’t fashion driven and didn’t care if the system was a line array, point source or anything else. They just cared about the sonic result. This allowed us to experiment and develop our loudspeakers, as well as our own knowledge, instead of standing still.
During your career, do you feel those initial goals have been met?
To some extent, yes I do, but being a designer is a little bit like climbing a mountain. You reach what you perceive to be the top and you’re able to see more than you could before, so you keep climbing. Having said that, it feels like we’ve reached some sort of summit with Vero. The thing that got me into audio in the first place was experiencing stereo through my hi-fi speakers. The stereo image that Vero is capable of, even off axis, is the best I’ve ever heard from a big sound system.
You’ve become a manufacturer synonymous with dance music in any setting. With the launch of your new system, Vero, what do you want to give the next generation of music fans in terms of their live experience?
I’d like them to have uplifting listening experiences, where the quality of the audio positively impacts their connection with the music, their mood and their understanding of how good live sound can be. There are generations of music fans who probably haven’t experienced really great live sound.
It’s been some years in the making. Why is now the right time to launch?
The short answer is: we’re completely happy with every element of the system. As a totally independent business, we don’t have shareholders to satisfy with new product launches or a corporate strategy with a specific timeline. We’re looking at the long term and the impact that Vero can have for years to come, so we have been determined to make sure every single element of the system is as good as it can be.
What are the key attributes that are going to put Vero on the map?
Vero produces precise, transparent, accurate and present sound, with even dynamics across the frequency spectrum and rich, intelligible vocals. The stereo image really is astounding. It’s extremely efficient – a 12-enclosure flown array only needs two Lab.gruppen PLM 20K44 amplifiers to power it. There’s lots of headroom. You don’t need to compress every channel to make room for the vocals. The system hardly needs any EQ at all.
When you’re not creating audio products that’ll gather the masses, what would we find you doing for relaxation?
Time for relaxation has been in short supply over the last couple of years, but, when I get the opportunity, I like to head to the south coast with my wife Ann. We enjoy being in and around the sea, especially when it means windsurfing or spending time with our grandchildren. The photo pictured is of our granddaughter and I in the sea at Littlehampton, UK. Initially, she was scared to go in, but seeing how much fun I was having changed her mind. She’s even taken to wearing her goggles at bath time now!