The European firm Antelope Audio is one of the increasing numbers of audio companies with roots in the professional audio market, but that also offers some of its products for audiophiles and other sound quality-conscious consumers. This two-market approach particularly makes sense in digital audio, where R&D costs can be high, and thus it is beneficial to spread them over several markets. In addition, in the digital audio realm, the needs of the two markets overlap when it comes to DACs: both need low distortion digital-to-analog conversion.
Igor Levin founded Antelope Audio in 2005, but Levin’s experience in the industry dates back to the origins of an earlier company called Aardvark, which Levin helped found in 1990. Aardvark made a number of pro audio-oriented DACs and related products, but the product that really put Aardvark on the map—and that earned Levin the moniker “Mr. Clocks”—was a high-precision master clock called the AardSync. At the time of the AardSync’s release, not many individuals in the pro audio or audiophile communities fully understood how profound the effects of an ultra-precise clock could be on digital audio sound quality. However, the beneficial effects of the Aardvark clock were readily apparent to studio engineers who plugged the AardSync into their recording and playback equipment chains, and the rest is, as they say, history. Almost overnight, Levin had a hit product on his hands (and one that many would say helped to define an entire product category).