A year ago today, as some, or many of you know, Analysis Plus founder and president, Mark Markel, passed away suddenly. Not only was he an extraordinary father, husband and humanitarian, he was a downright terrific friend to all of us. And for 27 years he was also a friend to countless customers, dealers, vendors and more. In the time since his passing, we have heard from so many of you who have, from your comments, attested to those wonderful attributes.
We all miss Mark terribly, but make no mistake, his legacy, influence, style and passion for extreme customer service lives on in his company that continues to thrive today as a result. We are dedicated to the mission that successfully brought us to the place we are at and the direction we’re going. He will always be with us.
We recently uncovered an unsourced interview Mark gave three or four years ago and we thought you might enjoy hearing more about this man we admired in his own words.
Q: What ignited your interest in the high end?
Mark: I have always enjoyed the magic of live music and how powerful it is. It grabs your attention and makes you live in the moment. In this day and age of multitasking, great music draws you in and keeps you in the present. When I listen to recorded music I have always wanted to recreate that. It has led me on a constant search for the best equipment to create that feeling.
Q: Did it come from the music side or the electronics side?
Mark: Both, I like the challenge of engineering equipment to be able to faithfully reproduce what the artist created. I have heard systems that change the music and some people might prefer the sound. However, when I listen, I don’t want the cables or any piece of equipment putting their imprint on the sound. I want a violin to sound like a violin.
Q: What gear made up your first high-end system?
Mark: I had JBL 250Ti speakers, Adcom electronics, Pioneer turntable, and Monster cable.
Q: When did audio develop from a hobby to a career?
Mark: Two of my engineering friends and I started an engineering company in 1993. We were hired by the largest cable company to use computer simulation and testing to provide information that they could use for marketing. After many hours of testing and computer simulation, we found out that what they were teaching in school was an oversimplification of real-world physics. We came up with a cable design which took that new information and insight and created our patented hollow oval design.
Since we were all audiophiles, we wanted to hear how it sounded and did a small production run. A friend of ours created a website for us and in return we gave him a set of our cables. He had a Radio Shack audio system and he put in the new cables. When his wife got home she asked him if he bought new speakers, since it sounded so much better. He told her he just changed the cables and we knew then, if they could hear such an improvement on this system, we really had something. We then put time and effort into coming out with a full line of cables.
Q: What education did you receive?
Mark: I really enjoyed going to the University of Michigan and received a bachelor’s degree in Physics as well as in Electrical Engineering. I also received a Master’s in Electrical Engineering. I was going towards my Phd in Nuclear Engineering when I decided I wanted to leave academics and start working on some ideas that I wanted to bring to market.
Q: How do you define the difference between HiFi and high-end audio?
Mark: Buying high-end audio gear one hopes would lead to HiFi, but unfortunately there are many variables that can get in the way. The high-end audio gear you buy must match up with what you are trying to do. Is it a small or large listening room? What volume will you be listening at? What type of music will you be working with? Our cables don’t have the frequency problems other cables have, and are very neutral. Therefore, our cables make it much simpler to get HiFi from your high-end equipment.
Q: Analog or digital – what is your preference and why?
Mark: I have heard both done very well. If you do digital, it is critical you use a great DAC. Digital is not very forgiving and can really fatigue the ear if not done right; analog is more forgiving.
Q: Analysis Plus operates in the Pro and audiophile markets. Do you approach them differently?
Mark: Yes, the cables that are used in Pro Audio are subject to much more abuse and movement. They are designed to minimize handling noise and have extra strain relief for the connectors. One of the weak links in Pro Audio is the Jack, so we have the new patented QJack that will really improve the sound. The good thing is it will make the recording sound better and that means better sound for the audiophile to.
Q: What is the greatest misunderstanding people have about cables?
Mark: The most important thing is the geometry of the cable, then the materials. People love to talk about the materials used in the cable, but if the design is flawed the best materials can only help so much. If you make a Yugo car out of titanium, for example, then you will have a better Yugo but not a supercar.
Q: What interesting fact or aspect about Analysis Plus might surprise audiophiles?
Mark: I find it interesting that when working with great musicians how many are blown away when they use our instrument cable for the first time. They cannot believe a cable can make that much difference, whereas an audiophile already knows how important it is. For many of these musicians, this is an eye-opening experience and leads them to question their speakers, amps, and much more – they are now more interested in high end audio and what it has to offer.
Q: Personal listening, headphones etc., is increasingly popular. What does this mean for the high end?
Mark: Headphones are great in that you can take your music with you and not bother anyone. I also think it is a bonus that the new generation, with the better headphones, will want to hear better recorded music. Once they hear what they have been missing, they will want to experience what high end audio has to offer. In high end, it is great that you have more options.
Q: Looking towards the future, how will high end systems change in the next ten years or so?
Mark: I think advances in how we perceive and process audio will influence how music is recorded and reproduced to bring us even closer to live sound.
Q: Going forward, what are the greatest challenges confronting the high end?
Mark: In some ways technology is a problem for the high end. It has made it easy for anyone to record music in their own studio, but it takes experience to really create a great recording. I think the ease of anyone able to create a recording is exciting, however it has reduced the quality of the music. If the source is not great, the music will not be great, even with the best equipment. I feel if the source was better, people would be more interested in finding the best equipment to get the full enjoyment out of the music.
Q: Outside of audio, what do you do for fun? What (still) inspires you about your work?
Mark: Fun is experiencing life and trying new things. I love to travel, try new foods, see how other people live and think. I love competition and enjoy competing in golf, volleyball, basketball, weightlifting, and most sports.
At work, I really enjoy inventing things and making things better. I was just inspired by Professor John Goodneough who invented the lithium-ion-battery, who at 94 years old just invented a better battery with three times the energy density. It is solid-state and noncombustible. It even performs well in sub zero-degree weather. This is amazing, and he did this at 94 years old.
Hope you enjoyed this interview. Hopefully you can see Mark’s passion for this industry. We at Analysis Plus want to thank you all for your heartfelt condolences and your continued support and patronage. Please leave any comments and feedback below. We love hearing from you.
Best wishes from your Team at Analysis Plus Inc.
“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.” – Plato
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