This is an Interview we’ve had with Andrea Ricci, the mastermind behind the Italian Spirit Torino brand. Enjoy.
Andrea you’re the founder of Spirit Torino. Being a rather new brand in the market can you tell us about your brand where you coming from and what is your idea behind it?
Passion for music and recording began at university. There I started a record label in collaboration with the Polytechnic School of Turin. This experience led me to work with a number classical music associations and collaborate with some hi-fi stores. During that period, headphones were essential to calibrate microphones during the recording sessions. Subsequently, I started modding commercial headphones to overcome what I felt were limitations in the playback of my recordings.
Our headphones are still used in the professional field and Spirit Torino relies heavily on a “listening committee” composed by musicians, sound engineers and music lovers who constantly check the correspondence between and recorded events through recording sessions with different genres.
As an Italian company, design is clearly a very important aspect of your creativity. What other Italian brand, if any, inspired you?
Surely a certain retro look in our first creations is there, inspired by World War II Navy headphones. Today Spirit Torino designs by focus mostly on ergonomics and a typically Italian way of conceiving a handcrafted product.
I’m convinced that design must come from function, but there should be also room for an artistic interpretation of the product, carefully selecting color combinations, prime materials and special decorations in order to make our creations unique. Particular attention has been given to our city, Torino. I very much wanted a version called Turin 1706 in honor of the heroic feat that took place during the siege of the city. You can find the historical map of the fortified citadel engraved on the cups and on the headbands of our 1706 Limited Editions.
Some Spirit Torino Headphone have so called dual isobaric drivers: What does it mean and why is it so good?
The isobaric power unit is the technological pinnacle in the Spirit production line. The concept of aerodynamic efficiency of the mobile group has guided the development to obtain an extremely fast and precise transient response. For the first time we have inserted in a headphone a power unit consisting of two dynamic drives in an isobaric chamber that move synchronously in the same direction over the entire audio range, to obtain an extremely fast and fulfilling sound.
Now you are launching a new headphone called Valkyria, passing the 10K price threshold: what makes it so special?
The Valkyria project originates from a challenge by some customers. The question they asked me was the following: “If in designing the Twin Pulse, you didn’t have to take into account any marketing or financial considerations, but only the optimal final result, would you have made the same choices?” The answer was no.
To design this headphone I had to make the mental effort to redesign every single detail from scratch in order to optimize performance, without being conditioned by production cost or the difficulty of implementation. It all started from the power unit and from the idea that the limitation of dynamic drivers mainly consists in the power weight ratio between the mobile unit and the magnetic flux that pushes it.
Every technical artifice that has been applied to the revolver drive have led this drive to an impulse response and a subsequent stop capacity of the membrane that amazed us and made me understand that a driver of this type had to be assisted by an equally exceptional chassis. I needed a much stiffer frame than the one used on traditional models so I selected Grade 5 titanium also in order not to sacrifice on weight. The cable represented the last real challenge.
In development tests with the Twin Pulse I had noticed improvements in some parameters but worsening in others when using silver cables.
My belief was that the gauge of the cable in our headphones represented the key to the kind of performance I was looking for, so for this project I used a truly exceptional cable, made by 32 silver and 4 copper cables with an absolutely symmetrical configuration, thus allowing a a truly exceptional current transmission capacity and refined high frequencies.
Listening to Valkyrie you will perceive an unprecedented level of sound image resolution and dynamic response. The dynamic range is further extended towards the lower frequencies with an ability to carve out silence by defining the space in which the sound is created.
For this very reason, it is absolutely necessary to set up a system with very carefully selected components that can fully exploit these headphones.
When can we expect to have this beauty in our hands?
The first pilot units have been delivered in Italy and we expect a to launch the Valkyria worldwide this April.
Unfortunately, being a product that I have to personally build one by one which, as you can imagine, requires a considerable amount of work hours, we had to limit the production to 99 pieces.
Does it need special amplification and what pairings do you recommend?
The Valkyria in itself is not difficult to drive with its 67 ohms impedance and 96 dB of efficiency, but it certainly reflects the quality of the amplification mercilessly. A black background, a fine “grain”, a linear response and the ability to deliver power in a refined and uncolored way are a must for a most satisfactory listening experience.
An immediately noticeable difference compared to the Twin Pulse is that it seems to sound softer despite the power unit being more powerful. In fact, the Revolver drive is able to cancel the sound residues created by the residual oscillation of the power unit after each transient, effectively abating what we define as a sort of background noise produced during the reproduction of a complex musical signal. The first impression therefore is that to have the same feeling from the point of view of volume, a higher volume is required. However, by analyzing the pattern in the sound peaks with a binaural head, we realized that the situation is quite different; in practice, the peaks in the transients are much higher. while the dynamic range is further expanded, allowing a playback volume very close to that perceived in a live event.
Any other new products you are working on – that you would like to share with the community?
The beauty of this job, which is also my passion, is that one continues to imagine new solutions. After pushing in search of extreme performance, I am now looking at how to bring to a much wider audience an accessible product as an all-Italian tribute to the art of music.
This new product will represent a departure from our previous solutions, both from an aesthetic and materials point of view, and takes advantage of all the previous experience up to now.
I hope to be able to release it as soon as possible and to share it with all the enthusiasts.
Thanks for sharing the Sprit Torino playlist with us. Are there any tracks that really stand out in your opinion and is a must have for any audiophile customers?
It’s a pleasure to share it with you.
This playlist contains tracks selected for different reasons, some are sort of an acoustic test to highlight any flaws or deviations from reference, others have the function of checking the ability of the headphone to transmit to the user the emotional factor, which is for Spirit Torino a fundamental concept of headphone listening.