However, CH Precision is not about making custom products for the sake of it; “We design from scratch,” says Cossy. “But we use off-the-shelf products whenever we can. There is no point designing a new op-amp if there is a perfectly good op-amp already in production.”
Alongside a flexible construction environment, another big element in CH Precision’s ethos is the upgradable nature of its components. Since making its first products in 2009, the only ‘legacy’ components that are no longer available are the company’s two ranges of interconnect and speaker cables. All other products, save the A1 amplifier, made over the last 11 years are still on CH Precision’s order books. Of course, there have been periodic upgrades to these products, with the aforementioned A1 power amp being extensively redesigned to create the A1.5 and the M1 upgraded to create the M1.1. However, these upgrades are available to existing CH Precision owners, A1s being traded in at advantageous terms and M1s being upgradeable in situ – which given the weight of the unit and the cost of shipping is no small thing. Often, when it comes to upgrading a CH system it’s more about additions to the system itself rather than swapping out one product for another (as highlighted in our Issue 175 test that turned a single-box stereo L1 line preamplifier into a full-blown, four-box mono L1 preamp with twin X1 power supplies, or in adding a more advanced streaming input card to an existing DAC). They might also come in the shape of repairs, but as is often the paradox; those companies with the best repairs departments are also the companies with the least need for a repairs department. As CH Precision started from the outset thinking of ‘the long game’ in terms of product supply, the products are built – and the components are chosen – in terms of longevity and performance. Although these are claims common to manufacturers in the audio world, surprisingly few ‘walk the walk’, but with a product range that remains effectively unchanged in more than a decade, CH Precision lives by this ethos.
CH Precision strives to break down boundaries, in an industry that loves to pigeonhole. This hasn’t always been easy, “We were long considered as a maker of digital sources (because we manufacture a drive and a DA converter)” says Cossy, “but we fought against this. Now, thankfully I think that fight is over and people recognise us as a designer of amplifiers as well.” Similarly, and perhaps more importantly, the same line-blurring applies to the products too. “We have enough expertise in both digital and analogue domains to create products that ‘have enough digital in them’ to counteract the inherent drawbacks of an analogue circuit, but in the digital domain. The other way round is happening too; we take something like the external clock and treat it like it is producing an analogue signal.”