It is a challenge to record a great performance, and then later make listeners’ ears and whole psyche believe they were right there in the concert hall. It is an enormous, exciting puzzle of sound, acoustics, and human hearing. When solved right, it is like being there in the concert hall. That is what ETALON achieves. There are wonderful sounding audio products around the world. Some make the music sound beautiful, no doubt. It might sound strange, but ETALON does not want anything sound beautiful or likeable. We want it sound the as real as possible. The more real, the greater the experience it becomes.
More than 50 years ago, László Sallay started to bring together his passion for classical music and his passion for electronics. At that time in Hungary, it was easy to hear greatest artists from the “comrade” countries for free or very inexpensively. Thus, after building his first radio, his first radio tower (which might have been prohibited in communist Hungary…), he started to build amplifiers and speakers, and he found his goal for life: to let those unforgettable performances be taken home and be possible to enjoy the whole great experience by everybody who missed the live concert. To reproduce everything for them. He started to work on the whole chain from recording to reproduction. He found that it was not only soundwaves, frequencies or frequency responses. All the tiniest nuances must be reborn again during the reproduction. The sound, the silence, the silence in sounds, the sound in silence and the air. He found out that while the engineers have discovered everything to give a strong grounding in science, the music, the performance and the whole experience are not equivalent to achieving the best specs. He worked hard ever since to get closer and closer.
After the years of youth and finishing university, László worked with Danish companies as an advisor and representative in Hungary: Ortofon (if you were in high end audio at vinyl times, know them for sure), Brüel&Kjaer (DPA microphones these days). A couple of German and Danish colleagues were audiophiles. Listening to László’s actual amplifiers and speakers, they encouraged him to take it up to a business level because products sounding like those have a good chance in the world. B&K asked him to participate in the development of mics, as well. Relying on their encouragement, it finally become a company, and started to develop products.
When Etalon amplifiers first appeared in the Western European market in the 1980s, and they made quite a stir with their simple internal and external structure. The star products from USA and Japan were heavily over-engineered, as opposed to our simple and clean approach. That applies to the external appearance of our products. As opposed to other products featuring several displays, switches and knobs, we showed up with products of only two controls (input and volume). Einstein once said that "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler", and this is the guideline we have always followed.
Many of our products have been reviewed, tested and compared to the best by the hi-fi press. In these tests our equipment was very highly rated and favored by reviewers against the competition. Etalon has won the Diapason D’Or prize in Paris ten times since 1992, and we won the Italian Oscar prize.
ETALON has a complete workflow of recording and reproducing music. Organized to a separate entity, called Sonophil, we made many recordings for CBS, Naxos, Harmonia Mundi, EMI-Quint, Hungaroton, working with great artists such as Claudio Abbado, John Cage, Peter Eötvös, Iván Fischer, Kobayashi Ken Ichiro, Zoltán Kocsis, György Kurtág, György Ligeti, Zoltán Rácz, Dezső Ránki, Béla Szakcsi Lakatos, Nicholas McGegan, Peter Soave, Aldo Pagani. Leonard Bernstein recommended us to Deutsche Grammophon. Maestro Sergiu Celibidache and the München Philharmonics recommended us to Philips Classics. The Maestro was so impressed with the quality of our recordings that he decided not to record with anyone else, as he had doubts about the quality of their methods. We have some never printed concerts recorded.
Our loudspeakers, amplifiers and other audio components are designed to be able to reproduce both the special radiation of an outstanding artistic live production and the delicate musical nuances audible even between music instruments of the same type. ETALON’s approach, to get music incarnate at home, is appreciated by musicians.
ETALON does not want anything sound beautiful or likeable. We just want it sound the most real possible. Which gets the “wow, sounds good” without ever trying to get it sound good. The more real, the greater the experience it becomes.