ReMusic interviews Mirko Marogna from Esoteric Pro Audio

15.02.2023

Let me introduce you to Mirko, a new friend of mine, who has a “disease” which, to exorcise its danger and tame its strength, I more predictably call "passion".

He is a passionate audiophile.

I knew Mirko by hearsay, by a few posts on social media, by what little I was able to see of him and I also heard about him at some event.

So, to be honest, I didn't know him at all. I believe that until you eat or drink together frequently, you can't say you really know someone. Lately we’ve been going out a lot, eating and drinking together. Night and day. Constantly quibbling about – not what you thought about – but about Hi-End audio and, the most unusual and original ways to obtain a true sound, how to reproduce the best and closest to reality music.

 

Mirko Marogna 

Mirko Marogna is the equivalent of a veteran of many wars and theatres of combat. He carries a lot of scars, as if they were – and are – medals. He has seen and done things that I couldn’t even imagine. And they might as well crash or kill us. That’s how I risked ending up, literally "crashed", listening to music with his personal Hi-Fi audio system. He transmits to those around him the danger of someone who can kill you with two fingers, because he has been trained to do so, but at the same time he has the sensitivity of someone who knows how to grasp the different nuances of things, and keeps them to himself, with care and attention, as if they were delicate creatures to protect. 

 

In the Hi-Fi world there are many passionate and wealthy people who have put money into it, a little less have put in their intelligence into it, but, in the case of Mirko, his creations are a combination of an economic commitment and a lot of brain and creativity. His body of work can be briefly summarized in 1 - "pro" systems, 2 - Hi-End system intended for sale, 3 - personal Hi-End system and 4-a private theatre for live performances.

 

Un esterno della sede EPA - Esoteric Pro Audio

 

EPA headquarters and theatre - Esoteric Pro Audio

 

Speaking of the Hi-End system recently presented at Milano hi-fidelity, I can briefly tell you that we are talking about a closed system. Ed. | You can find some images in the article gallery: at the bottom of the page if you are reading from "vertical" devices such as mobile phones or in the left column on large monitors. As can be imagined, you just have to give this "system" a signal, analogue or digital, and then it takes care of the rest. Or rather, Mirko takes care of it initially, programming the entire chain in your environment: from processing the signal itself with the Esoteric Pro Audio Fibonacci DSP controller, rightly defined as "audio manager", passing on to the Caravaggio class D hybrid amplification, available in mono or stereo models, to get to the crossover-free speakers Kora. These are precisely three ways to be reamplified via the audio manager and as many amps for each way, even if not necessarily "of the house". They have an extension from 17 Hz to 25 kHz, they are characterized by a compression driver with an asymmetrical horn with an internal design and basically their project is that of a full range loudspeaker, this alone with an extension from 60 Hz to 10 kHz “helped”, as they say in slang, above and below. Below, even in a physical sense, there is the woofer in pneumatic suspension and floor loaded, which involves much less excursion and allows an optimal working point on the air gap. Above we find a large, in every sense, piston tweeter, practically the size of a midrange and "welcomed" in a waveguide. 

 

It is noteworthy to say that both the DSP modules and the Esoteric Pro Audio class D modules are proprietary, i.e. they have been designed internally, with the support of a leading company specializing in the development, engineering and production of special electronic projects. And, it is worth saying, the whole business is Italian, from the Northeast to be precise.

 

Waiting for the other articles about his company headquarters and those dedicated to the technical insights, here is a tasty appetizer: an interview to discover this man, to give him a voice, to let him speak directly about themes that excite us – and also torment us because they squander our finances – which however continually put us back into the game when something new seems to flash in front of our ears.

 

Question: Mirko, you have a multifaceted, eclectic audiophile career. Friend and disciple of Bei Yamamura, one of the internationally recognized leaders of the most fundamentalist Hi-End audio, made up of large projects but minimal in layout, you have explored the more "esoteric" realizations of the Sakuma projects based on the historic Lowther drivers, with Tamura and Tango transformers, you have tackled the professional field work, and now you are placing your own Hi-End system on the market with very high integration between its components. In the meantime, at home, so as not to miss anything, you have taken all these experiences of yours in your personal system, the most modern and ancient, both terms to be read in a positive sense, I have ever heard. So, let's start with the questions.

How did your passion for Hi-Fi began, who instilled it in you, who did you deal with or who accompanied you initially?

Mirko Marogna: My passion for Hi-Fi was born when I was about 12. My father gave me and my brother, three years older, the first stereo system. I still remember, it was a system based on a Pioneer amplifier and speakers. It lasted in the house maybe two weeks to be replaced by a Sansui 5900 amplifier and Jensen speakers. That’s when the long journey began.

 

Mirko Marogna e Bei Yamamura - 19 novembre 2013

 

Mirko Marogna and Bei Yamamura, November 19th 2013

 

Question: How did you meet Yamamura, how was your friendship? Do you remember any anecdotes about your mutual dedication to the search for sounds?

Marogna:  Bei, also called Be’ by the Italian friends, we met for the first time in a shop in Legnano in the mid-90s. On that occasion he presented his record player suspended in the air and without a pivot. I remember the late Bebo Moroni was sitting next to me. While listening Be' turned to his wife and asked for a rubber hammer with which he hit the graphite stabilizer above the record, so hard that it bounced, Bebo and I were scared but no noise came from the speakers: that’s how he introduced himself to me.

Obviously, I already knew him by reputation so for me that day was really exciting. Later, I used to frequently meet him at fairs and I would ask him a lot of questions to try to find out some little secret about him. Anyone who knows Japanese culture knows that those people don't have the habit of keeping experiences to themselves and in fact he always tried to explain his accomplishments to me in great detail and I was always amazed at his sincerity.

At that time, I was not involved in audio professionally, I was a simple enthusiast. A few years later, Be' took charge of a project for a very complex system owned by a friend I used to know who stayed with him for long periods, giving me the opportunity to meet him often. In the meantime, I had started my career in professional audio and therefore our discussions became more and more technical and detailed as time went by, also because that system was managed digitally, which was my daily bread.

We discussed for a long time how best to deal with issues regarding horn profiles, crossover cuts, amplifications, and I always listened to him with attention and admiration.

In the meantime, my experience in managing digital processes was growing and I realized that I didn't agree on how he managed the crossover slopes, so much so that one evening, during a dinner at a restaurant in the Bologna hills, I found the courage to express my concerns about it. At that moment he looked at me and asked me for explanations and I, with pen and paper, began to draw sketches to explain my theory to him.

When I finished my explanation that he listened carefully he said to me: "Mirko, when do you have some time for me?". I still remember the feeling I had at that moment, but I can't describe it: it was like having disrespected your mother but at the same time she was showing you the greatest respect of hers. For me it was moving. The last time I saw him was in Munich, he asked me to kindly bring him the materials for the exhibition stand at the Munich High End 2016 and assemble him the latest version of the Dionisio loudspeakers system, as I had owned a couple of them and therefore he considered me capable of setting them up for him. We had lunch, he and I alone. It was a sort of final confession. I remember that when he saw me, he greeted me and jokingly said "Hello Maestro" and we started laughing. I loved him.

 

Question: I know many audiophiles or manufacturers who, not satisfied with what is on the market, have rolled up their sleeves. I know for a fact that the cost of equipment or speakers has never been a problem for you, whether you like it or not, you poured large sums of money to get the sound you wanted. So, generally speaking, without necessarily giving examples, what didn't convince you about series production, the one that promises top performance and results, at least reading the relative advertising brochures?

Marogna: Let's say that after starting to amplify live music concerts and having assimilated the real dynamics of the instruments I noticed the huge difference in this parameter, I always had the sensation of listening “in slow motion” and, for the same reason, complex recordings always showed limits of details in full orchestras.

 

End part one | To next part

 

For further info:

to Esoteric Pro Audio website

EPA Fibonacci Audio Manager manual

EPA Caravaggio Hybrid Amplifier manual

EPA Kora Speaker System manual


Esoteric Pro Audio Fibonacci audio manager
Esoteric Pro Audio Fibonacci audio manager
Esoteric Pro Audio Fibonacci audio manager
Esoteric Pro Audio Fibonacci audio manager
Esoteric Pro Audio Caravaggio power amp
Esoteric Pro Audio Caravaggio power amp
Esoteric Pro Audio Caravaggio Mono power amp
Esoteric Pro Audio Caravaggio Mono power amp
Esoteric Pro Audio Caravaggio Stereo power amp
Esoteric Pro Audio Caravaggio Stereo power amp
Esoteric Pro Audio Kora loudspeaker
Esoteric Pro Audio Kora loudspeaker
Esoteric Pro Audio Kora loudspeaker
Esoteric Pro Audio Kora loudspeaker
Esoteric Pro Audio Kora loudspeaker
Esoteric Pro Audio Kora loudspeaker
Esoteric Pro Audio Kora loudspeaker, mid-high ways close-up
Esoteric Pro Audio Kora loudspeaker, mid-high ways close-up
Esoteric Pro Audio Kora loudspeaker, mid-high ways rear view close-up
Esoteric Pro Audio Kora loudspeaker, mid-high ways rear view close-up
by Giuseppe
Castelli
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