Worship Leader Interview with Radial Engineering President and Founder Peter Janis

Radial Engineering is a pro audio company based out of Vancouver, Canada.  Since its inception in 1991, Radial has introduced numerous innovations to the live audio and studio markets, such as their JDI and JDV direct boxes, which have become an industry standard and are considered by many to be the best direct box available today.  In addition to pro audio, Radial also markets to musicians with the Tonebone brand and sells acoustic treatment product with the Primacoustic brand.  Peter was kind enough to answer a few questions about the company, house of worship, and the inner workings of a new EQ circuit he’s particularly fond of. 
WL Mag: What made you decide to start Radial Engineering and how long have you been in business?
Peter Janis: 
Radial began operations in 1992. But getting involved in developing products started when I took apart my dad’s stereo at age 12 and built my first speaker cabinet a year later.  In the 1970s, I was a musician and back then, the gear selection was really limited. We built a guitar switcher and tube distortion pedal, then a   3-channel guitar amp. During the 1980s I was hired as product director for Fender in Canada and after 10 years of service, decided to set out on my own. My ex-partner had a small cable shop that was the nucleolus. We began making concert snake systems and a few years later, the first Radial DI appeared in 1996. The Radial logo actually represents a piece of quad cable.


WL Mag: When you are working on a new product, what are the key things you have in mind?
Peter Janis:
Right now, we have about 60 products in either development or at some stage. Some are on hold, others moving forward. Deciding which product to work on depends on where we see the biggest opportunity or where a hole may exist in the market. My experience of over 35 years in the business gives me a huge advantage in that I come from the user’s side of the business. I also spend a lot of time backstage with the technicians and engineers that put shows together. So when we are working on a new product, I can contact the very top guys in the business, get their input and this generally results in a product that is right from the beginning.  It is all about achieving a balance between performance, ease of use, price and sonic quality. The good news is that our customer is the professional. So we are not trying to save 3 cents on resistors or capacitors to hit a price point.


WL mag: Many of your products, such as the JDI, JDV, SGI, and most recently the Workhorse have become the industry standard of their class.  In your opinion, what sets Radial apart from other companies?


Peter Janis:
We truly are honored that so many of the world’s top artists, technicians and engineers choose to use Radial as part of their live and studio setups. I think they gravitate to us because we build tools for professionals. I bought a hammer for my son last year… it was an Eastwing. This is a more expensive hammer than others, but he will have this hammer in his workshop for the rest of his life. This is where Radial lives. We build tools. We are also about pushing the creative spirit. Pick up an acoustic guitar, put on a capo and you will immediately play differently. Put that down and pick up a 12 string, and again, you will instantly change the chords and phrasing if you let your creativity flow. A well-designed product should also inspire. I know we have nailed a product when I close my eyes and am enthusiastic. The new Radial Q4 class-A parametric EQ does this to me. You listen and you get excited. Play with a Workhorse and your world will open up. Coming up with creative new toys is what makes my job the best one in the world.  


WL Mag: You mentioned a little bit about the Q4 Class-A Parametric EQ.  From what I understand, this particular circuit is extremely rare in Parametric EQs, could you tell us a little more how you got the idea to make the Q4 and how it sounds compared to traditional op-amp circuitry? 


Peter Janis:
When we decided to build the Q4, we looked into the various circuits that are being used. I wanted our EQ to sound wonderful, so our engineering department started on the path of a 100% discrete solution. Most manufacturers employ integrated circuit op-amps that combine a bunch of parts into a chip to create a thousand multiples of gain and then the designer applies significant levels of negative feedback to keep it under control.
This is clearly shown in a basic schematic where the signal goes into the pp-amps’s positive lead and then the output is fed back into the negative lead – and the negative feedback is controlled using resistor #2. Combining everything into a single chip is highly efficient and very quiet, but the cost is a ton of negative feedback.  


Instead, by using discrete components throughout, we can control each individual gain stage and optimize the negative feedback so that the negative effects are minimized. The moment I plugged it in, I was amazed at how open sounding it is.  To characterize it…. when you kick up the high end, it does not sound harsh like a traditional mixer EQ.


WL Mag: How do you feel your products fit into a church/worship setting?


Peter Janis:
House of worship has changed dramatically over the past 10 years. Gone are the days of long boring sermons in Latin. Today, it is about enjoying and rejoicing in the experience of sharing Faith with others. This has brought ‘rock band’ level sound systems into the venues along with all of the required production tools to get the job done. This includes direct boxes, backing track switchers and room acoustics, something we produce under the Primacoustic brand.  This has also opened up the door for Christian artists to produce and sell recordings. This of course means studios have to be built and many of our Radial and Primacoustic product also fill this niche.
WL Mag: What would you like your customers to know/remember about your products?


Peter Janis:
Quality without compromise. We will always do our best to build a product that you can count on. And whether you have 200 people in a small church or 20,000 screaming fans in a concert, making sure the show will go on is critical. I think this is the hallmark of a Radial product and the main reason why we have gained a strong global following.


For more information about Radial products visit www.radialeng.com


-Andy Toy