1. How is American manufacturing doing in the era
of cheap imports?
For an answer we journeyed to Shirley MA to see
Brian Zolner of Bricasti Design, They manufacture the M28 amplifier
and M1 stereo DAC. Printed circuit board assembly is outsourced, high
value processes such as final assembly and test and chassis construction
is done in-house. The amplifier has custom machined wing nuts for the
outputs so you can tighten them with your fingers. However no ¾
inch spacing since there would not be enough room. The amplifier was
sitting there with the Rohde and Schwarz analyser (which he prefers
to the Audio Precision) showing .0008% distortion at 1/3 power and 1
They use CNC (computer numeric control) machines
to cut the front panel and other parts out of solid billets of aluminum.
Even the circuit board stand-offs are machined out of a continuous piece
of aluminum! The panel takes about an hour to do. They have a large
bin of aluminum shavings for recycling. Fully 50% of the cost of the
final unit is in the packaging. And 40% of production goes overseas.
They do custom units, such as a gold plated DAC (40 millions of an inch
thickness, about $250). He says for some reason the gold plated unit
sounds better. [I doubt that]
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