Formula One Inspired HiFi Design
Drawn to the shapes and textures of old master painters and sculpture since a young boy, Melbourne's Kostas Metaxas has forged a career spanning three decades in art, design and engineering.
Metaxas' need to explore the upper echelons as a designer has earned respect around the globe, winning awards in Italy and USA for his jewellery, fountain pens, and even watches.
Together with his sons, Andreas and Alessandros, his company, Metaxas & Sins, has drawn inspiration for their designs from the breathtaking work of Ercole Spada and Pininfarina on racing cars from the 50s and 60s.
However, it's the passion for high-fidelity sound reproduction that flows through the veins of this Melbourne family, and their range of hifi components are testament to the appreciation of fine art, design and high-end sound.
Their latest incarnation, dubbed IKARUS, is a stereo power amplifier producing either a conservative 50 or hefty 100 watts per channel depending on set-up. It can be yours for $29,450.
The name is fitting. In Greek mythology, Icarus is the son of the master craftsman Daedalus, creator of the Labyrinth.
Using military-spec, hand-picked and measured electronic components, each amplifier is hand built by the Metaxas sons from start to finish. They are then individually calibrated and tested, and subjected to a week-long extensive listening test before being considered complete.
For the more technically inclined, the IKARUS frequency response is impressively stated as 0Hz -1MHz (-3dB). Considering the audible range of the human ear is 20Hz to 20kHz, it's fair to say you won't miss a thing with this amplifier.
The beautifully sculpted chassis is CNC machined from a solid block of aircraft aluminium, copper or titanium. The choice is yours if you're willing to pay. It took Metaxas more than six months scouring the globe to find a skilled machinist who could produce the chassis according to his exacting design.
With circuit boards that are CNC machined from 1mm solid silver-coated polystyrene, the electronic design is a work of art. It's totally bespoke and, thanks to the modular architecture, IKARUS can be upgraded easily in the field as new technology is released. Future-proof.
While his creations may be cutting-edge technology and at the forefront of design, Metaxas uses technology from yesteryear to 'voice' his components. Using Swiss Stellavox reel-to-reel tape recorders, he personally recorded over 300 live concerts from 2003 to 2008, and still uses these master tapes as a reference today.
This marriage of something old and something new creates a harmonious relationship between the warmth, detail and nostalgia of analog, with the clarity, finesse and transparency of today's high-tech solid state amplification.
For Metaxas, achieving brilliance in design creates a feeling of euphoria. He particularly enjoys combining various materials – metal, glass, ceramic, plastic - and subverting technology.
He starts with a vision of the end product, and works backwards to overcome the challenges in manufacturing and producing it. He even researched and learned dental techniques to create jewellery and watches.
Metaxas believes that to excel in design and manufacturing today is to have a strong understanding of traditional manufacturing techniques, in combination with the latest software and modelling technology. It's this belief in balance with a twist, the fight between chaos and order with a little intrigue thrown in, that sets Metaxas & Sins apart from the competition.
The IKARUS amplifier is the first of a brand new range from the company, and in every sense it is truly high-end, albeit with a realistic price tag. Their unique approach to design and manufacturing is the sure-fire reason the Metaxas & Sins brand has enjoyed immense success throughout Europe.
For more information visit Metaxas & Sins.
Originally published in The Age Green Guide (November 18th, 2015). Republished with permission.
StereoNET's Founder & Publisher and still buried deep in the review room auditioning everything from docks to soundbars, amplifiers and headphones. Marc is also the founder of the annual International HiFi Show.
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