About Adona

From our Audiogon interview

Paul, you could have certainly have chosen some other kind of business venture. Why audio?
Electrical and mechanical engineering has always been my career mainstay, but most of my friends still view me as the guy standing in front of a stack of Marshall amps while holding an old Gibson solid-body. I was a pretty damn good guitarist in my earlier days if I must say so myself. I could take any Led Zepplin or Aerosmith lead guitar solo and figure it out note-for-note, simply by ear, in just a few hours. The kids these days can download sheet music or tableture from the net. Where is the sport in that?

I love science and music. When I put these two passions together it is a match made in heaven. And that is what happened back in 2001 when the impact of September 11th forced me to re-think my future. Amid the panic created by the media (and Wall Street), the financial engine powering my 16 year long career began to miss-fire. I was able to hang on while the company was winding down, but the outcome was inevitable. We were all to be without jobs. Also, it was not a good time to look for one of those "not so thrifty" research and development based jobs. In addition, I no longer wanted to be at the mercy of management. I wanted to take charge of my own destiny and decided to start my own business.

Ronee, already a small business owner, gave me the encouragement I needed. She has a great background in accounting, sales and customer service and agreed to be my business partner. I always knew that music was my greatest passion, and if I applied my engineering skills along with a lot of hard work, I too could run a successful business. The fact that I chose audio was a no brainer for me. Where else could I play with my "boy toys" and earn a living at the same time. Besides, the audio field is well established. It's been around for a long time and likely to stay around forever.

My interest in resonance goes back to my guitar playing days. Do you want a crash-course in resonance control? Take some over-wound guitar pickup coils and feed them to a flock of hungry EL34 power tubes and you'll see what I mean. Physics takes over and the thing wants to scream like it's out of control. Learning to play a musical instrument is easy, taking it to the next level is tough. It's all about room acoustics and resonance. I made a lot of modifications to my equipment both mechanically and electrically. At the time I called it experimenting. These days I would refer to it as tweaking. The audiophile industry gives me the opportunity to meld skill with passion.

Adona is an unusual name to use for a business. Talk about the company name? Where did it come from?
Adona. That's my daughter's name! Ashley Adona is my pride and joy in life. In spite of the fact that she was born with cerebral palsy and epilepsy, she has developed better than anyone had expected. A teenager now, she loves to sing along with her stereo and amazes us with her incredible sense of perfect pitch. I knew that if my company was to succeed, I would need to pamper it like a growing child. To me, the name Adona means love.

Adona has become synonymous with the advent of the granite/mdf platform. How did you come up with that idea?
The progression of thought behind the development of our granite platform is an interesting story in itself. I knew that the inherent sonic property of stone had to do with its distribution of surface energy, some of which could be dealt with through the use of thicker material which allowed a degree of "self draining", but along the wrong axis. It just sounded like a thicker piece of stone. Not much of an improvement to say the least. I had already ruled out the use of thin material due to its strong peaks all the way up the harmonic spectrum. On the other hand, I found this phenomenon to be quite predictable, repeatable and therefore maybe even controllable. I knew I was on the right track when I supported a slab of thin material on some spikes and could actually "tune-in" certain harmonics simply be adjusting the location of the supporting points. I quickly plotted the results. Not wanting to develop an elaborate "de-tuning" apparatus, I looked for something simpler, like a sheet of wood.

Woods like maple and cherry absorb energy but at the cost of contributing their own resonance into the equation. Medium Density Fiberboard, beyond the fact that it's hated by the audiophile community, seemed more like what I needed. Other than a severe dip at the low end of the spectrum, my test plots revealed a relatively flat response in the rest of the audio range. Also, I found it interesting that the plot was almost an inverse image of my thin granite plot. Now all I had to do was combine the two. As it turned out, that was no easy task.

The underside of most granite is somewhat uneven. It's hard to get more than a 20 percent contact area. The use of void-filling adhesives provided too much isolation as did the mat products I tried. After all, I am trying to mate the two materials, not separate them. I ended up having to hone the underside of the slab and use some expensive space-age adhesives. As it turned out, the adhesive actually modified the surface properties of the MDF in a desirable way. We often refer to this as our "mystery layer". The three materials are so successfully combined that they behave like a single material with its own set of characteristics. Very nice characteristics!

Adona's granite/mdf platform has made a big impression in the audiophile hobby over the years with references being made in ads by private sellers, discussion groups and even by the marketing staff of large manufactureres. There is likely to be more effort spent back-engineering granite/MDF platforms than there is with Area 51 spacecraft. From what I can gather however, I would have to say that many attempts failed due to a limited understanding of how Adona does it. People insist on using granite that is too thick. Thicker is not better. It's actually worse! One ad I read on Audiogon a while back was from a guy selling a platform and he said it was better than one using 6 inches of granite and 12 inches of MDF. Wow, I hope he didn't have to build one to figure that out! I guess he should have read our ads a little closer.

What unique qualifications do you and/or your company bring to the Audiophile community?
Ever since I was a young child I had an instinctive need to tinker with things. I was always taking things apart to see how they work. I always wanted to modify them in some way. I took my dad's chain saw apart so I could use the engine for my mini-bike. I got in serious trouble for that one! But not before my brother clocked me at about 45 MPH, which was pretty darn fast (and dangerous) in those days. It would drive my mom insane: "You just can't ever be happy with what you have", she would say.

The audiophile hobby is all about not leaving things alone. We constantly find ourselves changing something in a compulsive attempt to squeak that last bit of performance out of an otherwise perfect system. That is why everything we designat Adona has adaptability in mind.

What is unique about your approach, your product, your service or the way you do business?
I suspect that one unique quality of Adona Corp. is the fact that we do almost everything ourselves. We outsource a few parts and the painting and plating operations, but for the most part we do it all. In my research of the industry, I was shocked to learn just what the term "cottage industry" really means. Many "so-called" manufacturers actually have full time jobs in a totally unrelated field and subcontract everything. We design, test and market from our Olivine Way operation. We cut, machine, weld and all of that other noisy stuff at our Plum Orchard Drive facility. We are often contacted by web page designers that bash the appearance of our website and want to re-do it for us. No thanks. Call me old fashioned but I still manually type HTML commands on the old keyboard. We take pride in our work means: "We take pride in OUR work!".

Would you care to profile a person who has made a remarkable and valuable contribution to Adona?
Hats off to Ronee! She is our Director of Marketing, Accounting and a ton of other stuff. I don't think there are many women involved in the audiophile field. There certainly are not many with her knowledge and devotion. I love listening to her explain to customers about how and when to use tweaks. Her cheerful nature is well appreciated. Have you ever seen her ad with the floor disks arranged in a happy face? Well, that is her smile! She writes (or tweaks) many of our ads.

Adona has a web site and obviously makes use of the internet. Have you always done business on the net? How has this made possible or changed the way you conduct business?
Love the internet, but I really miss people! Even if it's just a voice over the phone. Browse our web-pages, email us, but please call us! We don't sell time-share property and we won't pressure you in any way. I agree with one thing though, when it come to details, it's always best to put it in writing.

Regarding Audiogon: Comment on the Audiogon experience. Is this tool new to your company or have you been with us for a while?
I don't view Audiogon as a tool. It's more like a community to me. A place to meet other buyers and sellers, share ideas and express our interest in the hobby. For those of you Audiogon members that have endured a constant bombardment of Adona 45-Series banner ads of the past three or more years, there is releif in site. We are preparing to launch our "New for 2007" product line this fall. We will bombard you with that for a while instead. Again, you can expect them to look and perform like nothing else in the industry. Oh, and by the way, the 45 stuff is doing very well, so you can expect to see it around for a long time!