IF the eye-catching design of the amplifier and CD player that comprise Roksan’s new Oxygene lifestyle range evokes a sense of deja vu, wonder no more. The British hi-fi manufacturer recently bought the design from a company called Artora, and has been working frenziedly to improve sonic performance and build quality ahead of the scheduled October launch.
According to Tufan Hashemi, Roksan’s managing director, it was the Artora’s striking design that spurred the purchase.
“The aesthetic design by Bo Christensen (of Artora) is unique. At this time, there is no other European designer whose designs are as stunning as this. The Oxygene designs are refreshing and will have tremendous longevity.”
However, if you thought buying a design “off-the-shelf” would have saved Roksan money and hastened its entry into the lifestyle audio market, Hashemi says it was otherwise.
“It was not a question of R&D time and money as we have had to go through both the chassis works and electronics at length and make many changes. If anything, it has cost more to identify the weak links and rectify them than if we were to design from ground up.
“Having said this, the complete designs just for the two products cost about US$1mil, so Artora and its partner ended up in financial difficulty and were not able to continue. That’s why the designs remained incomplete in terms of quality control and performance.
“I felt that these designs, with Roksan DNA and expertise, can offer customers a genuine high-end audio product with style. Roksan is the first high-end company that has crossed over to lifestyle products and I think this is something other companies will try and do, although as I said, there are not many hi-fi companies that can afford to spend $1mil on R&D!”
So it was a full acquisition of Artora?
“In terms of acquisition, yes, it was a full acquisition of all company assets and designs, and Artora has been closed down.”
Hashemi revealed that changes made to the amp and CD player included a one-box chassis using a massive two-inch plate of aluminium, along with improvements to the functionality of the touch sensor technology, the onboard DAC for the CD player, power inlet (upgraded to a three-pin IEC socket) and mechanical alignment of the dot-matrix display with the holes in the cabinet. The amp also has a DC power socket for an external power supply to improve the sound with low-impedance loudspeaker loads.
Of course, the question in the audiophile’s mind would be – how about the sound, will it reflect Roksan’s sonic traits?
“Bear in mind that this is a digital amplifier. Roksan has not made a digital amplifier before and therefore sonically, the products will be different from Roksan’s other series. However, the advantages of a digital amplifier together with Roksan’s engineering and expertise can definitely be heard and seen in the products.”
Indicative prices are £3,000 for the Oxygene amplifier, £2,500 for the CD player and £3,000 for bookshelf speakers that will arrive a bit later.
Roksan does have a busy time ahead, Hashemi added, listing out the planned upcoming product launches – a CD transport and two-way shelf speaker with ribbon tweeter also in October; a new integrated amp and three-way floorstanding speaker with ribbon tweeter in December; USB DAC in January 2013; and preamp, dual mono power amplifier, record player and phono stage in March 2013.
Also due in December is the Oxygene external power supply for the amplifier.
Given the acclaim that Roksan’s Caspian and Kandy lines have garnered, and the company’s solid engineering pedigree that dates back to the mid-1980s, there’s little doubt the Oxygene lifestyle products are another success story in the making.