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Say hi to Patrik, master of sound

Jul 29, 2017 Story

Q&A with Patrik Boström

If there was ever a king of audiophiles, Patrik Boström may run for the world title. The 43-year old Swede, father of two, and Chief Technology Officer of amplification at ICEpower, has disrupted the audio industry since 2003 when he founded Anaview. With a degree in Innovation engineering, Patrik has an extreme sensitivity regarding the future of audio. We decided to do a little Q&A with him.

1. Hi Patrik, thanks for taking your time to do this Q&A. First of all, can you explain where your passion for sound and audio reproduction comes from?
Music has always been a big part of my life and so has creation. I started building speakers and amps at the age of 15. I just love the fact that what you build with your hands can reproduce beautiful music. I think I share this with most of the engineers at ICEpower.

2. How did you get into the audio industry? And what is your educational background?
I have a bachelor’s degree in Innovation Engineering, and my first job was as a switch mode power supply designer at Ericsson where I learned a lot about power electronics and regulation loops. A natural step was to start to research switch mode amplifiers, which I did. A couple of years later I had created my own company with a handful of large clients for technology and custom designs. And now I’m here at ICEpower.

3. In terms of research and product development, can you reveal what you are working on at ICEpower right now?
Not really. There are a few things going on that are quite exciting but I cannot say too much about it.

4. What areas of audio engineering and audio reproduction do you think will develop the most in the coming years?
Thanks to GaN technology we will be able to see amplifiers that switch faster and with higher efficiency, especially at high powers. And hopefully, environmentally awareness and long-term thinking will make customers prioritize quality and low field returns over short-term savings. But for audio in general I believe the control interface will develop the most. Systems that listens and talks.

5. Talking about the evolution of audio reproduction, what do you consider to be the greatest leaps or paradigm shifts in history?
Bipolar junction transistors allowed us to make more user friendly, high quality amplifiers with higher power, lower cost and longer lifetime. Digital recordings started the process of increasing the possible dynamic range, even though many record labels choose to compress their music a lot. But today you can download 24bit material with an enormous dynamic range and this is getting us closer to live music. Streaming services has made us listen to much more music. It has also led to more musicians being able to make their music available to the big masses without being signed. The dark side of it is that we CONSUME music. It becomes a commodity like bubble gum… or wallpaper, and not really a work of art.

6. What is the biggest challenge research-wise in your line of work, and what kind of invention would hypothetically solve this challenge?
To be honest, spurious tones, i.e. that an amplifier picks up magnetic fields from the surrounding and include them in the input signal. It is the most irritating problem that we face in this industry. There are hundreds of causes for it and hundreds of solutions. Therefore it is difficult to say what invention would solve it. Maybe magnetically shielded semiconductors.

7. Do you have a favorite quote about audio reproduction and design?
“A designer knows he has achieved perfection, not when there is nothing left to add but when there is nothing left to take away.“

8. Have you developed any ”bad habits” as an audio engineer? Are you paying too much attention to the acoustics of rooms or anything like that?
Well, I have difficulties enjoying music if the sound is not right. At concerts for example, people can be all excited, dancing and jumping while I stand there grumpy because of the poor setup.

9. We know that you are a cycling-athlete. Do you listen to music while training, and if yes, what’s on your playlist?
Yes, at least when training indoors. To motivate yourself when sitting 50cm from a concrete wall for hours, you need something powerful like Rammstein, Foo Fighters or Kings of Leon. When cooling down I usually listen to Enya or Hans Zimmer.

10. Last question, and yes, it’s a test. Without consulting the Internet, can you tell us what the ”slew rate” is?
Of course. It’s the rate of change with which an amplifier can change it´s output voltage, and it is usually written in V/us. This “rate” has been going through a lot of debate during the decades since Matti Otalla wrote his article about slew induced distortion or TIM. The term should actually be V/us/V, where the last volt is the supply rails or the maximum output voltage of the amplifier. Music contains very little energy above 10kHz so slew rate in itself is usually not a problem for audio amps.

Thank you, Patrik!

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