Arsenal Audio Interview
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May 19, 2010

 Article by pan60 


pan60
Give us some insight into yourself, Larry. Tell us as a little bit about yourself.


Larry
There is an early Police song called 'Born in the 50's' - that's me. I had an interest in electronics and things mechanical from an early age when I would disassemble just about anything I could - radios, record players and the like. I went to college and studied electronics, worked for a communications company, and later an audio service shop, all while hanging around various bands and sound companies. Eventually, I got to work for a sound company, then went on the road, moved up in the business and toured extensively for the next 18 years, 12 of which were spent as the in-ear monitor engineer for Stevie Wonder.
 
pan60
Sounds like a very fun, as well as a fulfilling career. Any hobbies, or is it all work?


Larry
ALL WORK - no. I enjoy building R/C cars for fun and have even ventured into R/C helicopters a little. I shoot way too much home video (ask my kids), and like to do the occasional edit job for a home movie.


pan60
I have been wanting to get into the R/C cars, but there just isn't time. Maybe, some day in the future. R/C anything has always fascinated me.

As I understand, you have a history in the audio world aside from API?  Are you a musician, or just an audio engineer?


Larry
Most of my audio experience has been in live sound, as I have mixed both FOH and monitors over the years. The time with Stevie Wonder was mixing stereo to in-ears, which is like mixing house for a very small audience! The best part was that any acoustic feedback on stage was never my fault! (We carried an FOH engineer, a wedge monitor engineer and me.) I have always approached the sound business from the engineering side.  I am not a musician, but seem to be able to bring out what musicians and the audience like to hear.
 
I helped start ATI (Audio Toys, Inc.), in 1988 to manufacture live sound gear, became sole owner in 1993, and have enjoyed the success and popularity of the Paragon consoles and associated ATI rack gear for live sound to this day.
 
I believe I was fortunate to be able to acquire API in 1999 and continue the fabulous heritage of discrete analog audio products that API is known for. We have worked very hard to re-energize the brand, improve quality control and reliability, and make sure that manufacturing is able to keep all our products in stock, while at the same time, re-engineering some discontinued products and designing some new ones.


pan60
Well, it would seem your hard work is paying off. I think API is more popular than ever!

So tell me, ARSENAL AUDIO by API, what made you want to start another company?


Larry
API just wasn't offering enough stress.


pan60
LOL
API not offer enough stress? : )~  Too funny.


Larry
Seriously, we decide on a product or a design by committee. We have meetings to discuss what we should engineer and how it should be built. Over the years, there have been a number of ideas floated about in our engineering 'think sessions' that, while good ideas - don't lend themselves to the API design parameters. API products, by definition, must have an all discrete signal path, must have transformers and the 2520 op amp (almost always), must have the signature knobs, and must maintain that 'API sound'. We decided that there were enough other ideas and designs that could be turned into products that we were able to justify making those products under a brand name that had no design limits.


On a couple of occasions so far, we have been accused of bringing out a lower priced version of API, which is decidedly not the design criteria. It just so happens that the products we currently have for Arsenal Audio by API are less expensive than the regular line of API products. This is due largely to the design and specific parts, not that we have 'cheapened' the circuit or audio quality.
 
pan60
As everyone knows, or will know, I have the V14 EQs and I, in no way, feel there is any cheapened quality!

How did the name ARSENAL AUDIO by API come to be?


Larry
We don't pretend to suppose that one product or one kind of product is the only choice that artists and engineers need to have in the studio these days. We recognize that to maximize your creative options, you need to have a number of choices in your 'arsenal'.  The product name just went from there.


pan60
By the way, I love the name, and the color.


Larry
Thanks - we uncovered a large cache of military green paint, so we felt it our patriotic duty to help use it up.


pan60
That is too cool!

As you know I am very fond of the V14s, which, based on our chats, is a reissue of the older APSI EQ. What made you want to resurrect this EQ?


Larry
Over the years, I have spoken to several people who love the old APSI 562 EQ. They are hard to find and those who 'discover' them tend to hoard them. So, not many are available anymore. In an effort to kick off the new brand from API, we decided that resurrecting the APSI EQ would make both logical and engineering sense. API does not make a sweep EQ, so no product interference and it is already a proven design, so less risk from the peanut gallery.


pan60
It is so odd, I was blindsided when the V14 was released, I thought no way!

I had been chatting with a few manufacturers trying to get some info, as well as to get someone interested in reissuing these EQs. Needless to say, I was so stoked when I saw them, and even more so when I got a pair in my hands.

I have been trying to do some research into APSI. Tell us a bit about the APSI company. Also, what was (if any), the relationship with API?


Larry
As most people can already find on the internet, APSI was headed by Steve Crump, who had a relationship with API to buy parts to manufacture his own style of console. He designed EQ's in a couple different styles and arranged some type of marketing deal with API to include his EQ products in the API sales catalog, most of which carried the API logo along with the APSI name. It doesn't appear that APSI modules were sold for more than a couple of years before the company folded (it's a very short chapter in the API history book). The popularity of the EQ's, both the 562 (4 band sweep), and the 559 (9 band switched graphic), have long outlived the memory of the APSI consoles.


pan60
Also, you have a 19" rack version of the V14, as well as a pre, under the ARSENAL AUDIO by API name. Can you tell us something about these other units?


Larry
Well… the R24 is easy - it is simply two V14's in a 2 rack-space box. It made good sense for those who want two EQ's for stereo, or who just don't want to jump into the 500 series just yet.

The R20 dual channel mic preamp came about from one of those engineering round-table discussions I mentioned earlier. We became aware of a mic pre design that was IC-based. Engineering thought it was an interesting design and wanted the challenge to dig into something entirely new. So, we let them go at it.
 
The output section of the R20 is another story. ATI had been awarded two design patents during the manufacture of the Paragon consoles - one is for a unique compressor circuit and the other is for an innovative IC based output circuit that behaves much like a transformer - without all the weight. We use the patented compressor circuit in the API 2500 and call it 'Thrust.' We license the output circuit to THAT Corporation, which they manufacture as the 'Outsmarts Balanced Line Driver.' It made perfect sense to use the Outsmarts driver in our own products whenever possible, hence its existence in the R20. (This way, we get a royalty on our own technology that we buy from THAT. Ain't we smart?)

pan60
Cool! Do you have plans to bring more products to market under the ARSENAL AUDIO by API brand?


Larry
Nope.
 
ha ha ha!
 
The plan, at this point, is to let engineering submit plans for new products, require sales to poll the market to test the appeal, build the approved product, then add it to the product line. We have a laundry list of ideas and will determine which of those will become actual products by the above method. We are hoping for great things.


pan60
I'm definitely going to keep my eyes open: )



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