Thomas Tan interviews Itai Azerad, founder of Heaven 11, about the Billie Amp (2020)
Music is Our Sanctuary
Heaven 11 | 1.514.442.5460 | [email protected]
Made in Montreal | Heaven 11 is an independent audio company based in Montreal, Canada. Our products are designed and manufactured locally by a dedicated team of engineers, designers and craftspeople.
Heaven 11 was founded by Itai Azerad, an award-winning industrial designer:
“In 2015, I was showing off a recently acquired amp to my brother. After a few songs, he quipped: “yeah, sounds good, but I would never put THAT in my living-room”.
It was my a-ha moment. Clearly sound-quality alone was not enough to lure people to better systems. This complicated, ugly gear was a far-cry from my younger days!
-How did we go from the 70’s and 80’s, when our parents proudly displayed their soundsystems, to now hiding the clunky metal boxes behind console doors? How has that “displayed vs hidden” condition change our listening habits? Out of sight, out of mind?
-How did we go from “you can use the TV, but don’t touch the stereo” to “my Bluetooth speaker sounds pretty good for its size. No, really”?
-Why have so many friends downgraded from stereos to inferior Bluetooth speakers?
-How come most young people have no idea what an “amp” or “HiFi” is? Go ahead, ask around.
I have no idea why I believed I should take on that challenge, but what I did know is that musical engagement was plummeting, and the world did not need another mediocre product.
I started analyzing the current stereo amplifiers offerings: Why so many menus and ‘features’? why that exaggerated V-shaped sound? Why the lack of aesthetics? Today’s amplifiers look like cable TV boxes!
Does a sports car need to look like a sports car? Assuming it fulfills its primary functions well -then yes, yes it does. There’s a romance associated with those curves, a craft, a legacy. Beyond the utilitarian, today’s gear has to be a testament to HiFi’s legacy, to be a current-day reimagining and continuation of it.
My desire was to simplify and enhance the user-experience, to make the listening to any format seamless and effortless -analog, digital or streamed. Simplification meant making choices, clarifying functions, eliminating options. Once I had the concept, the basic form and features, I needed the “engine”…
The challenge I presented to my engineers, Sylvain Savard and Denis Rozon, was to design a musically-engaging, easy-to-use amplifier in a cost-effective package. More than specs on the page, musical pleasure had to prevail.
Instead of cutting corners on the physical product, we eliminated useless features and vanity specs. We optimized the primary use for stereo music: presented as is, with no boosted bass or sizzling highs, just as the artists intended for the listener’s enjoyment. We let the music do the talking.
We explored all technologies with an open mind. While tubes had more distortion than modern electronics, they also added “musical engagement”. class D amplification could sound cold and glassy, but well mastered, it could provide outstanding performance in a small package. Our goal was to fuse these 2 anachronistic technologies into an ultramodern hybrid. Needless to say, we went through a lot of failures and iterations -but we knew we were onto something.”
…and so, the story began…
Join the Movement
Sign up to our newsletter to receive exclusive promotions and updates.
We won’t send you spam. Ever. Unsubscribe at any time.