ReMusic interviews Paolo Belloni from Apotema Audio

27.03.2024

After testing the Apotema Audio Materik 1 parallel filter here, as promised I finally let Paolo Belloni, the designer of these fantastic as well as mysterious "contraptions", speak directly.

Question: Paolo, Apotema Audio is a rather recent brand in the Italian Hi-Fi scene, tell us something about its origins?
Paolo Belloni: Passion for music has been with me since I was little more than a child, then, in high school, I met some high-fidelity enthusiasts who infected me, making me appreciate the value of quality music reproduction. It was at that time that I began building some acoustic speakers, and some of them are still working in my friends’ homes. From the passion for listening, then developed the passion for acoustic drums, which allowed me to live in contact with the sound of musical instruments, from drums, precisely, to saxes, from guitars to piano, from electric bass to percussion. These experiences served as a beacon of what a Hi-End system should produce in terms of realism, a concept that Apotema has as its very specific goal. We propose systems capable of creating the highest possible realism.

 

Apotema Audio Black Hole

 
Question: Your company, in addition to amplifications, also offers a whole series of "parallel" network filters, can you tell us about the reasons for this choice?
Belloni: In the fall session of Milano Hi-Fidelity 2019, we collaborated with an exhibitor who used a pair of our mono power amps, in a four-chassis configuration, to amplify his KingSound electrostatic speakers. The evening before the event, after completing the room setup, we focused onto optimizing the system’s sound, achieving a result not very dissimilar to what we had achieved in the room where we had conducted all the tests. Yet, during the days of the exhibition, performance significantly deteriorated, due to reduced dynamics and a certain masking of details and spatial information. The cause seemed clear to us: it was the quality of the electric current, simultaneously stressed by dozens of sound systems that absorbed power proportionally to the music being played and disturbed each other electrically, far more than they did acoustically. From that experience came the need to equip ourselves to eliminate the root problem. The first result was a parallel network filter that confirmed the validity of our assumptions. From this first filter were derived those of the current production, designed for situations with different criticalities of electrical pollution.

Question: Having personally ascertained the positive effect provided by these filters in all the systems I tested, about ten of them, could you explain in simple terms the contents of the beautiful container and the principles of its operation.
Belloni: I thank you for your appreciation of the aesthetic side of our filters, we thought that an object like this should not necessarily be hidden from view. It can be freely placed according to the system layout and can therefore be displayed without compromising its overall appearance.
Now, regarding the content, as you will certainly understand, I cannot go into too many details. However, I think it may be useful to have a closer look at the different types of disturbances present on power networks. Compared to a few decades ago, the use of the electrical grid has changed dramatically and is now predominantly characterized by highly efficient devices based on the high-frequency switching technique. Regulations impose emission limits for each connected device. However, the amount of constantly connected devices, such as chargers, power supplies, TVs, home appliances, inverters, lighting systems as well as everything related to the wireless world – Wi-Fi routers, Bluetooth, smartphones, alarm systems, home automation, IoT – generates a complex level of interference, of high intensity and distributed over a particularly wide range of frequencies, which is very difficult to deal with traditional systems.
Our filters use a mix of techniques to effectively manage this complexity.
Our three devices – Black Hole, Dynamics Extender and Materik 1 – are sized increasingly consistently with their performance and share a common basis, the same approach. What differentiates them is the number of cells used, their sizing, and the way they are combined with each other.

 

Apotema Audio Dynamics Extender

 

Question: The Materik 1 I tested becomes lukewarm during use. Is it an active component or only passive?
Belloni: Our filters are entirely passive devices, in which a portion of the disturbances is dissipated as heat. The temperature increase you detected, reveals that the level of disturbances presents on the electrical network, at that moment, was far from negligible and their frequency fell within the range we treat with the dissipation method.
We chose the passive route, although more expensive and cumbersome, because it allowed us to achieve our intended goal: maximum reduction of electrical noise without any side effects, amplitude of intervention in the frequency domain, and absolute reliability. You have probably noticed that temperature can vary according to context, proportional to the amount of electrical noise present on the network.

Question: I had a clear feeling that the three devices Materik 1, Dynamics Extender and Black Hole have a cumulative effect when used all together. Have I been wrong? And, if I am right (as it seems to me), how many filters can be used simultaneously?
Belloni: You were absolutely right, in fact that's exactly what normally happens in the combined use of these three devices. The cumulative effect you experienced can be achieved either by placing several units of the same model side by side or by pairing different filters together. One solution that I find particularly effective sees the combined use of the Black Hole and Materik.
Regarding your second question, since these are passive devices, there is no technical limitation in the simultaneous use of several filters, except for common-sense considerations. I think it’s preferable to use one Materik than, for example, five Black Hole in parallel on the same multi-socket, also from an economic point of view. Otherwise, in some particularly complex cases, such as a professional studio employing with various electronics distributed over several multiple sockets, the insertion of a Black Hole in each of them may be the most effective solution.

 

Apotema Audio Materik 1

Question: What else is emerging in the future of Apotema Audio?
Belloni: Apotema Audio was founded with the goal of proposing products that, in addition to being very high-performance, offer special solutions to the user. This approach stands in antithesis to a rather "homologated" market, which tends to differentiate more on aesthetics than on the originality of content. Let me highlight two examples: the flexibility of our power amplifiers, which can be used in bi- and tri-amping configurations, and our headphone amplifier with a speaker output qualitatively able to compete with excellent power amplifiers.
This journey began only a few years ago, but we have a clear vision about the goals to be achieved, and we will continue to offer the market innovative solutions, emphasizing maximum realism in music reproduction. In addition to our existing products, we will soon join a very special preamplifier and a newly designed loudspeaker. Stay tuned!

 

For further infoto Apotema Audio website

by Daniele
Sabiu
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