Alpha in 2015
In March 2015 we will move into a temporary office on the Oudeweg in Haarlem. A particularly important moment, because developments are going fast now. In one fell swoop we have the space to request many products at once. And to carry out multi-tests. Something we are also going to do, of course. Think of the comparative test of entry-level amplifiers and high-end floorstanders. Sample tests that require a lot of space (and time!).
Please note that in those days multitests were in fact ‘not done’. We really had seduce DALI, Bowers & WIlkins, KEF, etc… to take part in the multitests. Nowadays it takes considerably less effort, fortunately, because in the end those are the most valuable tests. Both for us, the readers and the brands.
A particularly important item is the coffee machine. Among importers, Alpha is quickly famous for the good coffee … :-). If your author looks back, it’s a nice time we had there. We worked there for a little over a year and a half. And in that time Alpha has grown seriously. From around 180,000 unique visitors a year in 2011 to over 650,000 unique visitors a year in 2015.
At the moment, these figures are not directly comparable due to changes in measurement, but we can say that we have almost quadrupled in that time. Purely because of a focused team. And a good news writer. Also known as Ronald Smit!
Other authors connected at the time are Harro Tillema and Quintijn Bulterman. Both authors have written many beautiful articles for Alpha Audio. Harro has brought Alpha on the path of Bryston. And we still use the fine 4B SST3. Quintijn’s ‘alternate viewing angles’ have regularly led to hilarities. Not unimportant in an editorial team.
To be able to measure better – small speakers and headphones – we decide to make a large, soundproof box in 2015. This – of course – has gotten out of hand and turns out not to work very well afterwards. The reflections are far to dominant. Not directly a problem for headphones: that worked perfectly fine with the Alpha Sound Void. But measuring speakers just doesn’t work. And if we look at it now: that is quite logical considering the size and way of isolating sound. Again: one learns by doing. It was a cool project, though.
Video and Binaural
Around that time we also get more active with video. We buy better cameras and invest in a green screen and better lighting. Of course, it’s all still a bit amateurish. However: realise that no one in the team was trained for video. And the budgets didn’t allow – and still don’t allow – hiring externals for all the productions. In short: it’s a matter of learning to film and edit yourself. In five years, the video quality has improved quite a bit (although we say it ourselves :-)).
First steps with ROON and audio PC
In 2015 we work with ROON for the first time. However, we didn’t like it at all back then. There were almost no players. UPnP was still quite big as a protocol at the time and no: ROON does not support that (nor did ROON at the time). Of course, nowadays it’s a completely different story. Around this time we also wrote and filmed the triptych about the Ultimate Audio PC (Dutch). A fun and educational project. Funnily enough, very little has changed in the meantime. It’s still all about noise filtering and the right software and software-settings.