Cuttin-Edge, On-the-Spot Reporting

Audio Research Board Assembly

Insofar as high-end hi-fi companies go, Audio Research is a fairly big one -- it has a large factory, plenty of products, and numerous skilled employees. The reason they're skilled is that all the products are effectively handmade -- there's no robotic assembly or similar kind of automation to be seen on the factory floor. Even circuit boards are populated and soldered by hand in what's called the board assembly area, which was the first place I visited when I toured the factory.

Board assembly

Board populating for a Reference 250 mono amplifier.

Board assembly

While board assembly requires exacting precision, Audio Research clearly welcomes creativity and personal expression in the workspace itself. Wendy has been working with the company for 21 years and is said to be obsessed with Christmas -- obviously. She is shown populating a Reference 250 audio board.

Board assembly

Stuffed boards awaiting soldering.

Board assembly

The underside of a board ready for soldering.

Board Assembly

Where serious soldering happens.

Board assembly

Workers have a sample board on hand to work from when soldering new ones.

Board assembly

Board soldering for a Reference 10 preamplifier.

Board assembly

Board soldering for a Reference 5 SE preamplifier.

Micro soldering

Surface-mount components call for micro soldering. This technician is working on a DSPre digital board.

Board assembly

Board cleaning after soldering a DSPre board.

Board assembly

Due to the handmade nature of Audio Research's products, holders are created for the various board types.

Doug Schneider
Publisher, The SoundStage! Network

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