Ultimate Cars, Watches & Hi Fi S02 ep4 : Georges Quellet, Stellavix Tape Recorders, [Switzerland]
Interview with Georges Quellet
Georges Quellet - Master of the Swiss Mechanical tape recorder arts.
GQ: My grandfather was a manufacturer of the wheels of the first Martinique cars but the
pity is that my father was capable in techniques and wanted to make, which I did later, the engineering polytecnic
in Zurich and parents said okay, but you have to reimburse what we would invest for your
studies and my father was too serious and so instead he made commercial studies and all his life he was
blocked but he had this interest in techniques and in the first 20 years he helped me in the
commercial part bookkeeping and so on at Stellavox.
GQ: I have also interest to photography. At 12 for instance we have no money practically and so I
have to design everything for myself . My interest also to learn to read technical books
to learn how to make for instance photographic images. The fabrication of images is what made the
speed stability of the Stellavox. The disc of the motor it is covered by foreign lines, black and
white lines, making the tracking for the speed control.
GQ: When I achieved my studies in Zurich it was ’52, I already used the half of the six weeks for
terminating the diplomat to make measurements for my first amplifiers of the first tape recorders
which is this kind industry book in ___ and so on because I have no tools, no meters at home and
my idea was ___ to start the start up and my ___ phoned me, please start in industry and so on to
GQ: ’52 to end of ’55, four years, I was in the technical institute of Neuchatel. There were two
lines, semiconductors and the atomic clock.
GQ: And at that time, ’51, ’52, there existed wire ___
??: Wire tape recorders
GQ: Exactly and the starting perfect tone here, you’re starting ___ and the starting __ it was
dynabox at that time.
??: Yeah but tell me, why didn’t you just get a job with these guys, with ___ or these guys? No
GQ: When I was in contact with Kudelski when we have sold to him the factory, we tried two
days [to work together] , but it was impossible. We stood on the same, it is impossible and the pity was it was a ___
disaster when in ’88 I have to achieve my career in ___ as an esteemed employee, I was ___ in the
___ was to kill, to kill.
GQ: I continued to have my days at the institute and in the night I started the Stellavox wood case
and so on, three motors, simplified mechanics because I couldn’t make complex thing and I have
always to look for same solutions and not complex. All the compared machines are much more
complex. They be mechanical and electronically.
GQ: My first customers were the C___ and they had typically perfect tone or the first N__
machines and they were honestly satisfied in my first batch of 30 piece gave me some money so
that end of ’55 I left institute, I got a small apartment in ___ and at the same time it is just 50 years
today we married.
GQ: It was present like you ___ you can read anything and with the plugging head blocks which
was my invention one can say ___ and typically the large machine the TD, you have all stand up
proceed to read anything, any track from the cassette tape to the ___ film the 60.
GQ: My machines sound better than the other machine and this was claim to me from the very
beginning, measurements and so on, it is one basic thing but not sufficient.
GQ: One expression is the straight wire. Five transistor for the lines. You can count 30 transistors
in a N__ machine, complex, very complex and so on. The second thing, no tricks. No specialities,
compensations for compensation.
GQ: I have made a lot of special studies to understand and but the first ___ was not from
reflection, simply ___. In the machines normally recorders there is up to 15 ___ this of course
makes easier the difficulty of the bias frequency and so on and so on, but this is not good and many
people and this is what I can’t understand and they don’t understand in fact. Even if you don’t
listen over say 20k or 10k search frequencies have an importance in the general feeling of the
sound and music, the hearing is extremely complex and perfect and to catch these frequencies even
if I say there is nothing after, is bad for the sound.
??: Basically this is the first commercial machine that you made?
GQ: Yes. The first 30 machines were the same but wood, of wood, and after ’56 we started a serial
of 100 machines, but I have seen at once the piece was not the solution and I started with the small
GQ: My interest was always by miniaturisation of devices. At the time you had only the cast for
television, but no small machines and I felt the trend, the need for a small portable battery
operated machine in perfect quality and I was the first to make such a machine with an electric
motor, spring machine N___ with 20 stars experience with the lab N___ had tubes and a lot of high
voltage batteries, very complex and awful, and also the first ___ for spools.
GQ: This is the truly the first system.
??: Ah, this is the prototype.
GQ: This is the prototype.
GQ: This is the prototype and then we had a serial of SM3’s this is the first of SM3.
GQ: And you know the follower.
??: So this, but this was really your first commercial success yes?
GQ: It was the only chance of Stellavox. Without that
??: It’s history.
GQ: We have no Stellavox.
GQ: We were only in a small apartment with 12 people and it is the only part of our business
where we have earned something, absolute profit.
??: What were these selling for? What was the retail price of an SM5?
GQ: 1,500 Swiss Francs.
??: You’re joking? This is more than a price of a car these days.
GQ: In the States, Mr Heider or Ollie Wood, very rich man, he ordered a lot of SM5 and said I
could sell 100 machines a month easily, we could not deliver that and it was the time where __ in
the book, I make my big strategic error, we made the building.
??: Yes, you decided to build the factory at the time.
GQ: It was an error and when I felt ill in ’65, nervous breakdown, everything down, Kudeski buys
and the own and I re___ from zero in Colombia in the year ’68 and I designed the SP7.
GQ: You see I got the ideas when I sleep, just before sleeping. It is intuition and also good sense
simply, pragmatism, ergonomics for me and I am probably the only between ___ from ___ to make
this machine first for me, and to use them, I have made a lot, I have hundreds of tapes made like
you professional recording. Kudeski has never made a tape recording with his machine, he has
never supported where in France the ___ studios, people were ill from
??: It’s too heavy for a portable
GQ: I love the construction which come from the drawing as an artist practically but construction
as an engineer and the fact you know the SP line, flat you can put on every side, already flat and so
on, ergonomic where to place the hand, where to read like, there are machines where it is not
GQ: I can’t understand now how we did the design of the first SP. There were so many things, new
things to achieve at the same time to invent the motor, to patent. In an apartment! And the ___ the
lines and the magnets and to design and Mr Briggs, mechanical core, made the piece, the part, the
first prototype, the frame, the two frames were machined out of made of a block of aluminium
alloy then for the panels to find it was in Germany the panel makers and went to ___ to get the
components the prints.
GQ: To it is also the superiority of having one designer in companies, large companies you have a
lot more, one making the electronics another making the chassis, another making this type and
when they try to put that together. The conception should be from the same spirit but to be capable
of that, one must be w___ and ___ of course requires a good memory I think I have and also
intense curiosity and work, work, work.
??: Tell me honestly with this crazy guy, was he difficult to work with over those years? Seriously,
no honestly was he difficult to work with?
?1: I say it not always easy for, but the balance is positive.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Georges Quellet, Stellavox Tape Recorders, Switzerland