A True Artist
There are people you meet in life that you just know are special. Its hard to quantify, but when you talk with them, listen to their stories, and feel their energy, you just feel it in your bones.
That's how I felt when I interviewed David E. Cox.
In my eyes, David is a humble genius. Not something that can be said for most people. I know plenty of intelligent people, people that have achieved a great many things, and the majority of them that I have met find every opportunity to tell me just how great they are.
There's nothing wrong with this, mind you - as long as its being told in a non-arrogant way, a bit of self-promotion doesn't hurt here and there. But it says a lot about an individual who has had success but doesn't feel the need to brag about it. That attitude is sign of achieving Zen on the humility scale. There's something extremely attractive and inspirational about such humans, and this is certainly true of David.
We met David through a mutual connection, introduced to us as “a guy who restores vintage hifi speakers”. While, I suppose, true, I quickly found out that an introduction like that was a bit like saying Michelangelo was “a dude that painted...stuff”. Keen to discover more about David, I interviewed him from my office in Sydney, while David was in his apartment in the Netherlands, at what would have been 6am for him.
David’s Early Years
During David's childhood and adolescent years, he and his brother were brought up in music. Up until the age of eighteen, David was a violinist and a French hornist, selected to play in the Western Sydney Youth Orchestra among many other ensembles.
As most of us do entering adulthood, he had a moment of reflection - what was he do to as a profession? I laughed internally as he recanted this story, as it reinforced my prior "humble genius" diagnosis. He said, "To succeed as a musician, you really have to be extraordinary. I thought to myself, ‘am I the most extraordinary musician out there? I was certainly very good - after all, I practice fifty hours a week, but am I really the best?’"
Momentary sidebar here - I believe that level of self-awareness is extraordinarily rare in humans. I can think of perhaps three people in all my life that have true self-awareness, and the ability to internally rationalise oneself from an external perspective. Truly inspirational.
After deciding that perhaps David was only in the top 1% of musicians, not the 0.01% (and yes, statistically, you do have to be in the top 0.01% of all musicians to have a professional career, let alone "successful"), he pivoted and decided to become a chef, as food was his other passion. Anecdotally, not an uncommon pivot, that of musician to chef.
Over the next twenty years, David travelled the world as an Executive Chef at some of the top restaurants all over the world including Australia, The Netherlands and London, specialising in French fine dining, dessert, pastries and many more delectable delights, and the one thing that travelled all over the world with him was his hi-fi system.
His first hi-fi system was assembled in Sydney from various hifi retailers, including Audio Connection. He had purchased an Audiolab amplifier from Josef Riediger, then-owner of Audio Connection, and acquired a set of Acoustic Energy AE9 speakers and a Marantz CD63 system, which over the next two decades became one of his constants in his world travels.
David returned to Sydney in 2010, and I suppose unsurprisingly, after decades of being carted around the world, one shipping container after the next, his system was in need of repair. However, the then-age of the system proved repairing them a challenge, particularly his loudspeakers, as the drivers had perished, and parts were no longer available.
On his hunt to replace his speakers, he met Trevor Wilson of Rage Audio, and they quickly became friends.
Trevor was well known for his ability to repair classic hifi systems, and perhaps becoming charmed by the same qualities from David that I was, he offered to teach David how to restore speakers. Little did David know at the time, this would become his future passion.
Another notable mentor that David mentioned was Robert Grunberg, a veteran of the audio industry. He had learnt so much from Robert, not just technical knowledge, but was inspired by Robert's passion, his desire to repair anything, and the thrill of the challenge of bringing components back to life.
Over the following years, David would create what he calls the DVC Collection. This curated collection consists of vintage loudspeakers that David has sought out and restored or custom improved, but in a manner that exceeds the capabilities of most humans. David would find the vintage loudspeaker, research the history of it, the company that manufactured it, even the historical context of when it was created, and bring the loudspeaker back life, such that the resultant product is unique and reimagined, so that no other pair in the world that shares the model number will look or sound like the speakers in the DVC Collection.
The DVC Collection consists of painstakingly restored vintage loudspeakers from well-known manufacturers like KEF, JBL, TAD and Bowers & Wilkins, but to call them mere restorations does the process a disservice. They are unique, one-off time capsules that symbolise the era the speakers were created in, kept true to the original but restored with the wisdom and understanding that comes with modern hindsight.
Available for Purchase
Over the next few months, we will be releasing one pair at a time from the DVC Collection through Audio Connection in Sydney, Australia. As David’s first hifi system that started his passion for loudspeakers was in-part purchased from Audio Connection twenty years ago, its only fitting that David and Audio Connection have once again reunited to celebrate the DVC Collection. If you would like to hear these speakers and see them in the flesh, just make an appointment with us so we can present them to you.