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Faithful amplifier BLURB: Carlos Casas came up with an amplifier that the World Intellectual Property Organization called

The Most Outstanding Invention of the Year in 2003. QUOTE: It does not require a good speaker, playback, and pre-amp. CAPTION: CARLOS CASAS: I made my first million in six months. By Heinz Bulos Hanging on a wall in Carlos Casas home office is a faux Michaelangelo painting of angels flying a bearded man skyward. The painting is captioned with the words The Voca CDX 101. You dont have to die to go to heaven. The Voca, a stereo amplifier, is described as the only amplifier in the world that can accurately reproduce live surround sound as perfectly as it was originally recorded. Casas, 62, perfected the Voca, his Superamp, years ago. Its an invention that won first prize in the Department of Science and Technologys National Inventors Week in 2000 and was called The Most Outstanding Invention of the Year by the World Intellectual Property Organization in 2003. The Voca was so convincing that a reviewer for U.S.-based Stereophile magazine raved after testing it. Japanese giant Pioneer Electronics, no slouch when it comes to making amplifiers, is considering selling it in 150 high-end stores in Japan. Casas, who acquired the patent for his amplifier in 2001, brims with the energy of an upstart salesman. It does not require a good speaker, playback, and pre-amp, he says. One after another, he popped an audiocassette, a CD, a DVD, and a recorded HBO movie into a player, and each time, he pointed out that the audio quality and surround sound were simply heavenly despite the unremarkable set of speakers he was using. An inventor and a businessman, Casas discovered he had a knack for business while taking up accounting at the University of the East in Manila, when he started a tailoring service at his mothers gift shop and then grew it to a string of shops. He discovered he also had a knack for inventing in 1978, when he came up with a racquet sport called Bolaro, and then followed that up with the Triko, a tricycle for the disabled, and the Alcogas Stove, an alcohol-fired oven. He hit pay dirt in 1987 when he created the first gugo shampoo and called it Forest Herbs. That started everything, he says. I made my first million in six months. Then came that eventful week in 1988 when Casas, a member of the Development Bank of the Philippines Entrepreneurs Forum, joined a contingent on a visit to Singapore, where a tour of the biggest electronics f firms opened his eyes to the industrys size and potential in the Philippines. Inspired by what he saw, Casas, an audiophile, recalled the days when he used to assemble speakers as a teenager, and without delay he set up a new company, Voca Laboratories, and rented a facility in Sto. Domingo, Quezon City, where he housed several people to develop stereo equipment. They came up

with Turbosonic, a tube that reproduces and sustains the lowest notes without the electronic circuitry of a subwoofer. But it was while he was working on a jukebox project that Casas had his eureka moment. We accidentally discovered that the audio problem was coming from the wrong circuit design of the amplifier itself, Casas explains. As it happened, his deal with the jukebox manufacturer fell through, so he told his people to perfect their work on a power amplifier, and in 1997, after a year of research and development, they came up with a working model. Still, Casas realized too late that his development costs were surging. He had financed his project with the money hed earned from his shampoo, but when the money ran out, he got into debt and soon got into more trouble when creditors foreclosed on his assets. Production of his Superamp came to a halt. Struggling, Casas decided to do a quick feasibility study of his own. He figured that the 275 amplifier units he had completed were worth around P15 million, enough to sustain his operations. Kaya ko ito, he recalls saying. After all, hed installed his Turbosonic surround sound system in more than 100 homes, but the Superamp had far greater potential. Casas estimated that if he could get just 1 percent of the 30 percent of Philippine households that could afford his P70,000 amplifier, hed be looking at a P2.3-billion business. Today, Casas is positioning the Voca as an upgrade from the mass stereo segment to the high-end audiophile market. His selling point is that people can experience high-end audio and home-theater sound with his amp without spending more on other components. A high-end audio setup would cost up to P2.8 million, but the aspiring audiophile needs only to upgrade to the Voca while keeping the rest of his equipment to get great sound. Indeed, Casas is offering the Voca for test demonstrations in peoples homes to show them that they dont have to die to go to heaven. BOX THE MAGIC AMP The Voca CDX 101 Superamp features 100 watts of power per channel into 8 ohms or 200 watts per channel into 4 ohms, root mean square. Carlos Casas, its inventor, says the Voca amplifies recorded sound perfectly and clearly without frequency overlaps. It allows you to hear the soft passages as clearly as the strong ones, and to discern exactly what instruments are playing and where theyre coming from. The Vocas total harmonic distortion is 0.001%. This means youll have to be a dog to hear that puny imperfection (if, indeed, a dog can actually hear it). Carlos Casas Telefax: (02) 374-2357 Cell phone: 0921-4594661 E-mail: audio_voca@yahoo.com