This article was first published in the December 2013 issue of Hifi Pig Magazine which can be downloaded free of charge.
Randy Kunin is the owner of and driving force behind Randall K Designer HiFi.
The company was started a little under a year ago with one mission; to make audio cool again and get people passionate about wanting to share music and audio the very same way it was infused in us.
They are currently looking for 10-15 Dealers in the US and 10 -15 International Distributors that would like to offer the Randall K designs.
How did you get into/what was your first job in the industry?
I started on the 12volt side building demo vehicles, testing products, sales director and consultant and took the plunge to work from home almost 4 years ago.
Who or what was the biggest influence on your career?
Two people come to mind immediately, Alon Wolf (Magico) when he was really designing and building pieces that were cutting edge, but mainly Josh Stippich from Electonluv. Literally right after the first time I saw his tube amps I was out in my shop building
Proudest moment/product you’re most proud of?
It was the day that my father asked me to make him a set of loudspeakers as it was him who got me into home audio 25 years ago.
What was your very first system?
First semi real system was a Sony STR-DA1ES receiver, Sony CDP-C7ES cd player, Infinity Kappa 200 Bookshelfs and all IXOS cabling.
What component/product do you miss the most/wish you had never got rid of?
Boulder 865 Integrated, as it was on loan from Boulder and had to give it back.
Best system (or single component) you have ever heard (no brands you represent please…!)
This still has to be my father’s old rig, Coda preamp, California Audio Labs CD player, Threshold and Adcom amplification and Nelson Reed loudspeakers and subwoofers. This has always been my benchmark.
Tell us about your current system(s)
The main test rig is an Oppo BDP 105 player, Korato KVP-10 tube preamp, Belles 150A amplifier, BPT conditioner, Audience interconnects, Skogrand speaker cable and Randall K Sentinel loudspeakers
What’s your view on the valve renaissance of the past 20 years or so?
I love it; I am a fan of both topologies (Tube or Solid State) and enjoy either. There is some magic though that I have heard on a tube rig that can’t be replicated in my humble opinion.
What are you views on the state of the industry/where is it going/what will it look like in 5 years/what will typical systems look like?/What will happen to prices?/What will happen to the high end – will it carry on regardless?
Our industry just like any other goes in cycles, though I feel our cycles tend to be longer. I think the problem with ours is relevance and an inability to connect with the next generation. Companies these days are all fighting over the same every shrinking audiophile demographic because they don’t know how to create product and market to people outside the audio circle. I think we will also continue seeing a huge separation in pricing from accessible to outrageous and a decreasing middle market. I think major players in the high end market will carry on but need to figure out how to justify pricing other than name recognition or huge price tag
What are the industry’s biggest con(s)?
Just the all-out snobbery in all levels. From manufacturing, retail and media. And it’s those people who complain that the market is shrinking. They have yet to figure out that we all need to work together to grow our numbers. The good news is that there is a regime change going on with the next generation of people like myself taking over or creating companies that are accessible and just good people.
Presuming the measurements are fine, what do you listen for when assessing products?
In regards to my own, I listen for coherency and enclosure coloration. When you have both of these things addressed, speakers disappear and you start obtaining a performance and not playback.
Your sound preference -‘Smooth, listenable musicality’, ‘forward, driving, ‘foot-tapping’, involving sound’ or ‘detailed neutrality and transparency’?
I am a beauty is in the imperfections person. When you are on the edge of your seat listening and noticing every imperfection instead of sitting back and getting involved then IMO you need to pack up your rig and get into something else. I feel that your system should impose as little coloration as possible without sacrificing emotion.
Your preference – Full-range floorstanders or freestanding mini monitors with a sub?
I believe you can have the best of both worlds. People feel that you can’t get a disappearing act with a floorstander than you can with a mini monitor. I have been proving that theory wrong a lot lately.
What is your favourite recording?
Louis Armstrong playing St. James Infirmary on the Satchmo Plays King Oliver pressing
Tell us about your 3 most trusted test recordings.
Buddy Guy (Anna Lee), Dianne Reeves ( Feeling of Jazz), Nils Lofgren Band (Bass & Drum Into Live)
What are your most embarrassing recordings/guilty musical pleasures?
A Japanese Throat singer called Yat-Kha doing covers
Having safely ushered your loved ones out of the house as it is burning down to the ground, you ignore all standard safety advice and dash back inside to grab just one recording – what is it?
TOOL (Undertow) on vinyl.