One hit manufacturer

I have noticed one manufacturer that sort of made a landing, especially in the number of reviews, but have since steadily died down in interest. ALOIA. Whatever happened to this manufacturer, who was hot just about one year ago, and now, it seems all of them have either been unloaded or presently being unloaded. Were its products overhyped or was the market not ready for a really, truly avantgarde design. Another manufacturer I can think fits in the category is Kora. Are there other manufacturers that would fit in this category. True one hit wonders or were they never meant to be.
Near they had a speaker called the 50ME II and they were pretty darn good- one of the first if not the first speaker to use metal coned drivers. They made a few other products but none ever really caught on like the 50ME II and then they were gone and you hear very little about them today.
Tireguy: Metal coned drivers have been around since the 1970's. I think that Stuart Hegeman used them.

As to answer the original question, my contribution to this thread would be Audio General, Incorporated or as others may know them "AGI". They only produced one product over a 14 year span and it was their 511 / 511A preamp. Many of the folks that were into audio way back when will remember this preamp as it was written about in most every "underground" audio mag along with glossies like Audio during that time frame. If i remember correctly, J. Peter Moncrieff stated "this is the only product made that has ever challenged the residual noise floor of our test equipment".

I asked David Spiegel why he never came out with matching amplifiers. His response was that building / marketing amplifiers were FAR more costly, especially if done right. He did not have the capital to do that and didn't know how well they would sell if he did market such a product. Given David's very straight-forward designs, no-hype marketing and penchant for using the best parts available at the time, i'm sure that it would have been a great product. None the less, many "great products" were swallowed up by lesser products that had more financial and marketing support due to offering a bevy of "bells and whistles" during those years. After all, people were still using equalizers and tone controls back then. For the record, the 511 didn't come with tone controls, but did offer a specific loop for signal processing should one feel the need.

I can see why David was leery about going forward with an investment of that nature, but i really wish he would have. The little bit that i did read about the prototypes had them slewing at something like 1000 V/uS. Bare in mind that this was in 1978 -79 or so. Then again, the phono section of the 511 slewed at 370 V/uS and had a rise time of .01 uS and this was in 1974 !!! Not only were the circuits phenomenally fast and broad-band for that time period, David incorporated Zobel Networks to minimize transformer ringing / AC noise, star grounding to minimize ground loops, 24 Karat Gold plated Berryllium copper contacts for all signal connectons, Allen Bradley Mil-Spec pots, poly and tantalum caps, metal film resistors, coined silver contacts in the switching, etc... As one can tell, the quality of signal and components used were of utmost importance to David.

To top it off, David gave us all of this for an MSRP of $499. Other competing preamps that used far lower grade circuitry and parts were selling for $800 - $1200 back in the mid to late 1970's. In effect, the AGI and David Spiegel never gained the respect that they should have due to UNDER-pricing his product. As everyone knows, "real" high end audio products have to be phenomenally expensive to be good. If it isn't expensive, it can't be that good. After all, how could it be that a "commoner" could afford the best there is ??? Audio snobbery was alive and well LONG before many of today's "super manufacturers" ever thought about releasing a product. Sean

PS... David Spiegel was responsible for the first blind listening tests performed under controlled conditions. He "invented" the switchbox used for many of these tests. For the record, the only reviewer that i know of that passed this test in front of Spiegel was Edith Lumley. The reason that i know that Lumley was able to do so in front of Spiegel is because David himself told me so. Most other "golden eared" reviewers either didn't show up for the "challenge" that he issued to them or failed miserably once they did show up.

Moncrieff could supposedly identify whether this switchbox ( basically a high grade relay with the associated cabling and connecting jacks in a box ) was in the signal path or not with 100% accuracy. One would not even have to switch components but just placing the switchbox in series with the signal was audible to Moncrieff. Bare in mind that Moncrieff supposedly passed these tests with witnesses, but not in front of Spiegel. Trying to make the switchbox more transparent, Moncrieff and John Curl later came up with a design revision using a higher grade relay, but the initial design and concept was put forth by Spiegel.

As such, Spiegel may be the "Grandfather" of high speed, wide-bandwidth circuitry AND "controlled listening tests" aka "DBT" ( double blind testing ).
I'm impressed Sean. Great read!
Sean... I want to grow up and be like you one day!
Sean- Thanks for clearing up my confusion :)- there was something unusual about the metal driver that he used, any clue what it was? I know people always made a big deal about the 8" metal cone woofers that were used on that speaker. I don't have a much experience with the speaker's I just know a little history behind them as you can already tell.
Neat story. That's Enid Lumley BTW, not Edith.
Wow, I am impressed with reading about the great unknown someone who was decades ahead of his pack...Almost like reading a book about some other civilization discovering America. Thanks for the read Sean!

AGI, so much for the effect of high quality parts, I guess... I remember it very well. Black units, rather narrow and high, in basic black. Yeah, I wanted one of those at the time. They advertised in Audio. Folks at the law firm I started out with around that time used to think I was rather strange when during lunch I would show pictures from Audio magazine of the insides of Threshold power amps and marvel at the quality of construction. The designers and builders of these fine products back then had no idea that the BIG LIE theory would produce amps selling for 50K today. Sean is right: an audio company selling its products for a decent price gets tagged with "mid-fi". Geez, I look at some Rotel amplifiers and am impressed by how they are built and what they achieve sound-wise. When is the last time you read that someone's dream amp was a Rotel?

I sometimes look at copies of older audio magazines and am always surprised at how many companies were touted as the next big thing, but see that they disappeared within a short few years.

My vote goes to the Curl designed Vendetta Research phono amp, with a tip of the hat to Rappaport.
I remember hearing this preamp at a place in Chicago. The dealer also sold Electrocompaniet. I can't remember why it disapeared. At the time I was saving the money to buy one. It might have been Victor Hifi but I don't remember anymore.

It was a pretty preamp but it was a stellar performer. I think someone also told me it had hum problems, but I never heard them.