It came to my recent attention that some audiophiles view Tenor’s Harmonic Structural Integrity (HSI) as “just another story” and not as the significant substantive breakthrough to recorded sound that it is!
I have no idea whether these audiophiles have actually heard the splendor of a Tenor amplifier - or for that matter are even qualified from an electrical and psycho-acoustic engineering background to comment on the merits of Tenor’s Harmonic Structural Integrity technology … so lets break this down into where these naysayers fall:
You are an ardent audiophile, electrical engineer and psycho-acoustic engineer: Don’t even waste your time reading further, you need to talk with Michel Vanden Broeck, Tenor’s Chief Engineer and inventor of HSI technology!
You are an ardent audiophile who has heard Tenor amplifiers and don’t believe you are hearing anything out of the ordinary: Not everyone can hear the benefit of HSI due to physiological differences in their ear/brain interface. This does not mean that it does not exist but simply you are unfortunately one of the very few that can’t process HSI naturally for some physiological reason. You will still benefit by the standards Tenor adheres to with amplifier design that results in a very low level of natural distortion and a presentation beyond virtually all other manufacturers. Unfortunately, you will not hear “zero” distortion which creates a dependent state where your body will crave the sound of your Tenor! You may want to read Johann Pinto’s review published in our web site. Johann is a Clinical Audiologist and ardent audiophile with immense understanding of the physiological nature of the ear/brain interface … and also how ones hearing changes as we naturally age.
You are an ardent audiophile who has heard Tenor amplifiers and can hear the full harmonics of “Zero Perceived Distortion” but simply do not comprehend how HSI works: Tenor’s web site contains over 100 pages of content … many of which deal with HSI and “Zero Perceived Distortion”. The best place to start is Mike Malinowski’s interview with Michel Vanden Broeck in the Line 1/Power 1 preamplifier review. Using layperson’s terminology, Mike does an excellent job exploring the design elements of HSI technology giving way to “Zero Perceived Distortion” with all of its benefits.
If you are just curious and reading this as a casual bystander: Every audio manufacturer has a story to tell - as we do at Tenor. Generally this is done to separate the “wheat from the chaff” so that a product stands on its own merits - which is hopefully above all of its competitors!
Tenor has set unprecedented standards in amplifier design and has succeeded in applying Tenor’s proprietary HSI technology to power amplifiers, preamplifiers and, more recently, phono stages - all with overwhelming success! The premise of HSI is actually quite simple. Tenor manages the complete total harmonic spectrum of amplified sound so there is no variable left to chance. We use this proprietary knowledge to use HSI as a tool to accomplish “Zero Perceived Distortion”! Without distortion, recorded music is as beautiful as the live event in the recording studio!
In addition to Mike Malinowski’s reviews and Johann Pinto’s assessment from a Clinical Audiologist’s point of view, you may also find Ernie Fisher’s comments of great interest. Ernie awarded Tenor the 5 Musical Note rating (first ever in the history of the Inner Ear Magazine - before Tenor the Musical Note Scale only went to 4). Ernie Fischer, The Inner Ear Magazine, writes his “Synopsis” on the 175S Stereo Amplifier:
“Expensive? Yes - but by no means the most expensive, some of which I have seen and heard. I believe that the price of the amplifier is warranted and fair, and I give you my reasoning for this inference: In my almost 30 years as a reviewer, I have listened to some outstanding and great-sound amplifier designs. Fact is, I have loved some, I have lusted after some, I have lived a harmonious life with some - BUT, if I had to marry one, it would only be the Tenor. What more is there say…”
Now for my 2 cents worth: I have been a successful retailer of high end audio products for over 40 years. I have owned and auditioned hundreds of amplifiers and was considered by most to be at the top end for both my home system as well as my stores’ systems.
Having listened to the technical merits of:
- Pure Class A
- Class A/B
- Current Dumping
- Class D
I too became very suspect of manufacture’s technical claims since there was always something not quite right … to the extent that I at some point simply refused to hear the pitch until after I listened to the equipment. I just wanted to judge the product on its sound performance. The manufacturer could then explain to me about the product’s technical merits and why it sounds the way it does!
I listened to my first Tenor amplifier in November of 2013 - a date that changed my life as an audiophile! I heard recordings that sounded so real, so vivid, so musical, so right - something I never thought would be possible to experience in my lifetime! These were all my personal recordings and not special audiophile recordings. Ones that I loved but not really examples of perfection from an audiophile point of view. For the first time I could hear past the performer to their instruments, their proximity to other musicians, the natural decay of every note, human or instrument - even the natural sonics of the room where the recording took place! I had to know why!
Jim Fairhead, President, Tenor Audio, introduced me to Tenor and to the notion of HSI and “Zero Perceived Distortion”. “The inventor, Michel Vanden Broeck, was always reluctant to discuss his breakthrough invention” Jim said. Michel simply wanted his amplifiers to stand on their own merit - as the most musically correct amplifiers ever produced. Jim saw it as more than that … and for good reason! Tenor technology was genuinely an “Eureka” moment in high end audio history … well for that matter, audio history! This technology could be adopted for any amplified audio device including automobiles, PA systems, hearing aids, mobile devices, computers etc! With the marketplace crowded with so many heir apparent high end systems, and reviewers proclaiming “this is the best amplifier I have ever heard” month after month, amplifier after amplifier, Tenor needed to position itself as profoundly different company with profoundly different technology. By elevating Tenor above the routine high end noise and talking openly about HSI and “Zero Perceived Distortion” Tenor can celebrate what is perhaps the greatest accomplishment in amplifier design known to mankind - no distortion!
I was so elated over my Tenor experience that I decided then and there that I had to be part of this movement - bringing real music to the audiophile … heck, the entire world!
HSI and “Zero Perceived Distortion” is one man’s fervent and relentless 40+ year journey into reproduced sound and how one hears. This is not just a story - this I assure you! This technology is necessary to release the emotion captured in all existing recordings - digital or analogue! Try living with a Tenor and you will never ever look back!
For the majority of audiophile’s possessing the physiological prowess to properly hear HSI and “Zero Perceived Distortion” you are about to make the passage from music lover to music addict! It is the most powerful experience a mortal can have!
David C. Johann