Barbetta Technical DesignOne of the most gratifying testaments to the quality of Barbetta gear is that, in this age of ultra-cheap, nearly disposable gear, some of the first products Barbetta manufactured 25 to 30 years ago are being returned to the company for repairs by customers who wouldn’t think of replacing them. Originally tagged as boutique audio gear, Barbetta has migrated to “a highly evolved cost-benefit approach that yields first-class performance without high-end prices.” Its products are available in the U.S. and have been exported to most major markets.
“MOSPATH” Commitment Provides Stellar Audio Quality
Still owned and led by founder Tony Barbetta, the company debuted in 1981 with a unique equalizer designed specifically for Rhodes Piano. Barbetta was also a pioneer of bi-amplified, self-contained p.a. cabinets, years before industry leaders copied the design concept.
For his current-generation products, Tony accepted the challenge to design cost-effective circuits that are reliable, easy to manufacture and offer world-class sound. A key part of his strategy was “MOSPATH,” a term he trademarked that signifies that all components that amplify or conduct audio in the signal path of the company’s new amplifiers—including the ones in its active p.a. cabinets—are built entirely with MOSFET transistors, prized by audio purists for their warm, clean, powerful sound. Using his MOSPATH approach, he found that circuits “can be very clean and dry, or they can have the warmth and richness of tubes, depending on the details of the circuit.” Tony assures that “MOSPATH” isn’t “just clever copy from the marketing department; it’s a way to describe hardware that’s really new.”
Barbetta multi-input active speakers are especially popular among keyboardists. “Our amps preserve the full detail of patches and samples, as well as recordings,” Tony explains. “They also deliver ample sound levels for gigs, from loud blues bands to small club settings and anything in between.” The company also offers signal processors, full-function rack preamp units, and reference monitors. Upcoming releases include a line of guitar and bass amps with preamp and EQ circuitry composed entirely of single-ended MOSFETs as well as pickup systems for vibraphone and marimba and a unique new type of pickup system for acoustic bass.
According to Tony, manufacturing strictly in the U.S. with only domestic components is “just about impossible anymore.” However, he stipulates that while Barbetta Electronics utilizes parts made in various countries, every Barbetta product is designed, assembled, and tested in the company’s Moorpark, California headquarters. “You can’t get away from imported components,” he says, “but we build everything here in the U.S., from scratch.”
Recently the company has focused on designing new products and prototypes for field testing. Its commitment to MOSFET circuitry is being validated by accolades for Barbetta products’ sound quality from a wide range of users, from weekend warriors to top professionals. Thom Wilson, producer/engineer of The Offspring, says of Barbetta Diva reference monitors, “These speakers allowed me a whole new level of accuracy in mixing music in the popular music genre. They provide the most precise and uncompromising working environment that I ever had making records.”
“In general the market is going for cheaper products,” Tony admits, “and most consumers aren’t thinking about keeping a piece of gear for three decades. But building quality gear, with sound that musicians truly love, has kept us going through these tough economic times, so that’s what we’ll continue to do.”
Subscribe to The Music Trades today!