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 populating for a Reference 250 mono amplifier.
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.
Stuffed boards awaiting soldering.
The underside of a board ready for soldering.
Where serious soldering happens.
Workers have a sample board on hand to work from when soldering new ones.
Board soldering for a Reference 10 preamplifier.
Board soldering for a Reference 5 SE preamplifier.
Surface-mount components call for micro soldering. This technician is working on a DSPre digital board.
Board cleaning after soldering a DSPre board.
Due to the handmade nature of Audio Research's products, holders are created for the various board types.
Publisher, The SoundStage! Network