Tufan Hashemi is Managing Director of Roksan Audio, the company that brought the audiophile community the Xerxes turntable in the mid 1980. The company still produces a version of the Xerxes turntable (The Xerxes .20 Plus) as well as a host of other products including amplifiers, cartridges, tonearms, CD Players, loudspeakers and a tuner.
The company’s latest product is the Oxygene range which includes an uber-cool CD player and amplifier.
• How did you get into/what was your first job in the industry?
I have always loved all sorts of music but as I could neither sing nor play any musical instrument well, I always tried to get the most out of my hi fi systems whilst still at university. When a few years later, a university friend of mine and I made a record player just for fun, other friends interested in music wanted one as well. Shortly after Roger Macer from the Sound Organization in London, often heard it and wanted to buy some for his shop. At first, I thought he wanted one here and there but it turned out that he needed dozens or more a week. I was working as an investment analyst at the time and thought it would be more fun to concentrate on making all these record players for him and created Roksan in the early 1980s.
• Who or what was the biggest influence on your career?
Not a particular person or event but the general buzz and the ‘work hard do well ‘ attitude that prevailed in the 80s together with a tremendous amount of good music which was around at that time just egged me on. I wanted to produce class leaders in hi fi sound reproduction at an affordable price.
• Proudest moment/product you’re most proud of?
Clearly, Roksan’s first creation, the Xerxes was a very exciting time for me but the Oxygene series is by far the most adventurous range that we have created to date. The products are designed for this century and the fact that no other specialist high end hi fi company has done this before is both exciting and satisfying. It also shows that after all these years, Roksan continues to show vision and commitment to the industry and all music lovers . Looking back, I realise that we have always been able to deliver the best performing products across all music ages, and I have to say that it is so gratifying to see it happening again with the Oxygene series.
You and your system
• What was your very first system?
I had a lot of different playback systems but the first proper system that actually worked well consisted of a Xerxes record player, Omtec C60 amplification and Quad electrostatic speakers.
• What component/product do you miss the most/wish you had never got rid of?
Quad electrostatics speakers only because nothing has ever been made like them
• Tell us about your current system(s) my current system consists of Xerxes 20 plus record player, Artemiz arm and Shiraz cartridge.
I use a Roksan Caspian reference phono stage with a Platinum pre amplifier and four M2 power amplifiers. I have two other front end components , a Roksan M2 CD player and the Olive O6HD music server. I also use a prototype Roksan DAC and Streamer in my system. I also have one of my Oxygene prototypes at home which I have been enjoying immensely. My speakers are the Roksan FR5 floor standers.
The state of the industry
• What’s your view on the valve renaissance of the past 20 years or so?
Valve amplifiers, when well designed, will always be some of the best sounding equipment available. Unfortunately, what comes with the territory is relatively labour intensive equipment and physically cumbersome when compared to the latest digital technology, which is increasingly excellent in sound quality and lends itself to more discreet and elegant aesthetics. Whilst legacy products will perdure, the industry is entering a new era, one which brings music lovers closer together when it comes to reconciling tradition and innovation
• 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?
The answer to this question follows on from the last. I’m sure we will see the emergence of more products from specialist ‘high-end’ manufacturers in the style of our new Oxygene range at some stage. Wireless technology and styling for more design-conscious customers that demand the highest standards will be the future. Of course, there will still be a place for traditional audiophile products such as turntables (which we are still very successful with) but the goal is to combine this ethos inside a product which will satisfy the demands of both audiophiles when it comes to sound quality and performance and the wider market looking for flexibility when it comes to their music.
• What are the industry’s biggest con(s)? Not sure if I can tell you here without the risk of getting sued !
The way you work
• Presuming the measurements are fine, what do you listen for when assessing products?
Musical communication and emotional involvement are the key factors that any Roksan product must possess. This is difficult to precisely describe but you know it when you hear it!
• Your sound preference -‘Smooth, listenable musicality’, ‘forward, driving, ‘foot-tapping’, involving sound’ or ‘detailed neutrality and transparency’?
Precision and transparency is a must , the listener must be able to see and hear the artist in his/her minds eye by just listening to the piece. If we successfully transfer the artist’s performance into the listener’s room, then we have done our job right. And if we have done it right, then the musicality, the rhythm and the emotions follow seamlessly. Just one of these descriptions therefore doesn’t define the Roksan sound. We balance all of these aspects into our designs by concentrating on precision and neutrality.
• Your preference – Full-range floorstanders or freestanding mini monitors with a sub?
Full range floor standers
It’s all about the music, man…
• What is your favourite recording?
Antonin Dvorak: Symphony No. 9 From the new world, Conductor Ferenc Fricsay, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. LP.
• Tell us about your 3 most trusted test recordings
Horowitz at home, 1989 DG 427 772-2 CD Inner details that demands a perfect system.
George Michael “Faith” CD Recorded in PUK Recording Studio, which my company designed and built, including a special 10.000W monitor loudspeaker system. It is almost impossible for floor standing loudspeakers to reproduce this recording correctly.
Igor Stravinsky: The Firebird Suite/Nightingale/Rite of Spring. Eiji Oue conducting. Reference Recordings CD. Must be played back using HDCD due to a very large dynamic range.
• What are your most embarrassing recordings, guilty musical pleasures?
• 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?
Brüel & Kjær QR 2010 5Hz-45kHz The most accurate measuring LP. Almost impossible to replace, as most of these test LPs are now worm, and mine is not.