BEAR Labs

BEAR Labs logo
  • BEAR Labs
  • 140 Jennings Road, Hannacroix NY 12087, USA
  • Official website
  • bear@bearlabsUSA.com
  • +1 518 756-9894
  • No fax number available

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Equipment[add model]

BEAR Labs manufactures or has manufactured the following equipment (click to expand models list):

Dynamic Speakers
 
Solid State Amplifiers
 

General information [contribute]

TAC (July 15, 2009): BEAR labs is a small USA based manufacturer of high end amplification.

History[contribute]

Bearlabs website (February 2002): I started BEAR Labs in 1990. My name is Randy “bear" Bradley, my friends call me “bear." I'm not sure why but there has been some sort of bear theme in my life for as long as I can recall, so the name “bear" for the business seemed very natural. Actually, BEAR Labs" is an acronym for Bradley Experimental Audio Research Laboratories.

This is how I got started: In 1964 I became an amateur radio operator, I was in Junior High School. I'm still amazed that I did it, but I actually built an exact copy of a 6146B transmitter from the ARRL Handbook. Better still, it worked! If I had only known that tubes would have a revival 30 years later! My good friend and mentor, the late Bob Barkey W2UO, supplied a whole range of exotic small parts from his magic closet. Without Bob's help and generousity with time and friendship I may never have been able to build that transmitter or become a ham.

BEAR Labs isn't my first venture into the world of audio, back in 1973 I had a business in NYC called Mountain View Sound" that specialized in musical equipment repair. After that there was The Electronic Farm" which specialized in some rather esoteric hi-fi gear. Look at the ARCHIVES to see the CVSR speaker prototype there! At the same time that I was doing these things Harvey Rosenberg was starting NYAL in a storefront in Ossining NY, and the biggest amp that anyone had ever seen was Mark Levinson's ML-2, being sold in NYC by Lyric Hi-Fi. A Phase Linear 400 or 700 was considered a big" high quality amplifier.

Audio wasn't the only thing I did during the 70's. I was a road technician" for many bands the best known being Blue Oyster Cult and CHIC. I suppose I should mention the Dictators as well. I personally built the first non-military Soviet satellite TV receiver for Ken Schaffer. It was installed and used by the Harriman Institue at Columbia University in NYC.

During the 1980s I hardly did anything in audio, instead Computer Graphics was my field. First at NYIT/CGL, then the pre-eminent computer graphics center in the world and the spawning ground for what later became PIXAR. I was Manufacturing Manager. Then at RPI's CICG (later RDRC) I did 3D raytracing images. Audio was only a hobby, one that was being pretty much ignored.

By 1989 I had actually put together a surprisingly good system, based upon a pair of Acoustat IV electrostatic speakers. CDs had come of age, and limitations were suddenly much easier to hear since the source was much better. I began to search for an amplifier of high quality that would drive my ESLs.

It was this search that eventually led me to turn my hobby into a business.

The Symphony No.1 amplifier was my first, and very ambitious project. It is and was a no-holds-barred implementation of one of the finest contemporary solid state amplifier circuits. It led to an association with Erno Borbely. Erno at one time worked for the David Hafler Company, where he designed a series of amplifiers including the well known DH-200.

The Symphony No.1 Amplifier came from a prototype which I built after reading Erno's articles in Audio Amateur Magazine. I decided to build the prototype after finding that I could not find an amplifier at any price that met all of the design requirements or sonic realities for an amplifier that would exceed the capabilities of the ESLs. Erno's design was very much better than just about everything else.

To give you some idea, this 1988 prototype was 78 pounds and sported dual mono power supplies each with 675VA of toroidal transformer. The amplifier was capable of about 125 watts into eight ohms, and used 8 Mosfet output devices per channel. Built on a 5/16" flat plate chassis, this was a serious amplifier by any standards. The sonic results were well worth the effort of design and construction. The difference was immediately apparent the first time it was turned loose on the ESLs.

It was so much better than anything else that I had heard that I realized that this was an extraordinary amplifier. There were a number of reasons that it is and was a superior design.

That was the start. As good as the 1988 prototype was, I knew that it was only 75% of this circuit's capability. So, I set out to build the ultimate implementation of the design. This became the Symphony No. 1 Amplifier. This is how BEAR Labs came into being.

Today, BEAR Labs is a “micro business" that specializes in the design, building and sales of extremely high quality audio equipment. I'm located in the countryside about 125 miles north of New York City, along the Hudson River in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. At night, in the summer, the only thing you'll hear is the sound of crickets and frogs - no road noise, no cars or trucks. A great place for late night listening.

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