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Essential Sound Products

The story about the genesis of Essential Sound Products (a.The E.S.P. Story...
k.a. E.S.P.) is first a story about my lifelong passion for music. I was raised in an environment where music was ever-present. Young and old alike made enjoying music a priority in everyday life. Music was more than just a source of pleasure. It was and is a part of African American cultural identity and source of great pride. Now “playing” music did not mean playing an instrument like the piano; it meant listening to music on the radio and playing phonograph records. The genres we listened to were mainly jazz, rhythm & blues, and gospel. My father and uncle had component stereo systems, and an interest in “high-fidelity” reproduction. Following these role models, I too had a component stereo system before entering high school. My appreciation of high-fidelity music reproduction developed early on, together with the love of the art form.

After earning my engineering degree and commencing a career in automotive product design in Rochester, NY, it was time to invest in new stereo equipment. Enter high-end audio dealer and pianist Jim Gala. Gala Sound (Jim’s store) had a grand piano in the main showroom and regularly hosted receptions with live music being played. It was a place where I could visit for an evening, be served wine and cheese (or beer and munchies), talk “shop”, and listen to really good music played on state-of-the-art systems with no pressure to buy anything.” I did buy my first true high-end audio system from Gala Sound. Gala was also an inventor. He became most interested in loudspeaker design, and developed and patented a “baffle-less” dynamic speaker system; know as “Soundwave”. In this environment, and through Jim’s friendship, my passion for music and high-fidelity equipment flourished. During this period, the main creative outlet for me was my chosen profession. I was awarded three (3) US patents for automotive product inventions.

In 1993, a few years after relocating to Detroit to continue pursuing my automotive career, it was again time for a significant system upgrade. I purchased a C.A.T. (Convergent Audio Technology) pre-amplifier. The C.A.T. had vacuum tubes for amplification and a detachable power cord connection. This component purchase was important for two reasons, 1) it provided the opportunity to easily evaluate different power cords, and 2) the professional relationship that would ensue with the product’s designer, Ken Stevens. I was fascinated by the effect changing a power cord had on the performance of the pre-amplifier, and became somewhat obsessed to understand why.

So, out came the physics and electrical engineering textbooks, and a “clean sheet” design approach was pursued. Later that year, I met Ken Stevens at a high-end audio show in Chicago. I mentioned my development work to Ken, who just happened to have a particular interest in the effect of power cords on audio component performance. We agreed to trade of a set of prototype power cords for a back-up set of vacuum tubes. Ken auditioned the cords, and liked what he heard so much that he offered to use them in his demonstration system at the next CES (Consumer Electronics Show), January 1994, in Las Vegas. I attended the show, hanging out in the “C.A.T.” room much of the time. Fortuitously, the C.A.T. room was particularly popular that year, as Ken’s pre-amplifier was named “product of the year” in a major trade journal. The industry/media contacts and visibility gained through this single event represented a defining moment in the genesis of a serious business enterprise. Essential Sound Products was formally incorporated the next year (1995). Those prototype power cords were representative of the first generation of The Essence. Development continued, and in 1999, I was awarded a US patent for the new cable technology.

With each new product innovation, my enthusiasm is re-energized, and my appreciation of the creativity, artistry, and passion captured in the performances of my personal music collection is again enriched. However, it’s the satisfaction of sharing gained through feedback from fellow audiophiles, who have chosen E.S.P. products to enhance their enjoyment experience that is the greatest reward.

Mike Griffin holds POWER DISTRIBUTOR at Rotterdam Hi-Fi Show
  
(picture courtesy of Quality Hi-Fi (www.qualityhifi.nl)
 

Michael D. Griffin, Founder and President
Essential Sound Products, Inc.

 
Essential Sound Products, Inc
P.O.Box 81998, Rochester, MI, 48308-1998, USA
Tel:   (248) 375-2655
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