Acoustic Sounds
HSE Swiss's Robert Huber
By: Michael Fremer

June 23rd, 2024


Factory Tours

HSE Swiss Surprise Visit Following Munich High End 2024

HSE manufactures the Masterline ML 7 phono preamplifier

Some things were "meant" to be. Following High End Munich i spent a few days in Switzerland that included a visit to Micha Huber's HiFiction factory in Turbenthal. The video tour includes the launch of the new Thales Magnifier phono preamp/preamp. Early in the afternoon, following the tour, I overheard two of HiFiction's distributors talk about driving to Schlieren to visit HSE Swiss, manufacturer of, among other products, the Masterline 7 phono preamp.

Coincidentally I am supposed to get one of these beauties to review so I asked if I could join Slobodan and Vladimir and they joked "Are you comfortable getting in a car with Slobodan and Vladimir?" I said "Sure!" And off we went.

Robert Huber, the mastermind behind HSE Swiss (and no relation to Micha Huber) joined Studer/Revox in 1981 and stayed on for thirty three years. He was a development engineer in the R&D department. Huber holds fourteen worldwide patents acquired during his work for Harman International (which bought Studer), Soundcraft and AKG. He's also a musician.

Huber founded HSE (Hard & Software Engineering) in 1987 while still working for Studer. He's designed and built a variety of well regarded pro audio pieces found at many of the world's best record studios. The Masterline 7 phono preamp resulted from three years of work, basing it on a high-performance studio microphone preamp he had previously designed that turned out to be too expensive to be produced in Switzerland, but given the demand for cost-no-object high performance products in the audiophile world, Huber turned his too costly to manufacture microphone preamp into the built by hand Masterline 7, which he introduced in 2019.

Mr. Huber took a lighthearted approach to my visit despite the seriousness of his endeavor so please do not get the wrong impression as you watch the video, which shows a relatively small operation in which he employs but a few people who do the assembly, while many of the parts are fabricated by outside sources, one of which, as you'll see, does likewise for some other top Swiss audio manufacturers.

Mr. Huber is soft-spoken and his English is heavily accented so you'll have to listen carefully to catch all that he says. I found the visit fascinating. By coincidence a sales person from Orbray, the cantilever/stylus manufacturing company was visiting from Japan. Huber is working on a high performance phono cartridge. This visit was a perfect capper to a wonderful week+ in Germany and Switzerland. I hope you enjoy this rather informal visit.

By the way, the "standard" Masterline ML 7 costs $89,000. With variable EQ cost is $100,700. Owners of the standard ML 7 can return it to the factory for upgrade to variable EQ for $18,500.


  • 2024-06-24 02:09:52 PM

    Zaphod wrote:

    This is where most budget, or what some call reasonably priced, components fail spectacularly, they will never look as beautiful as this masterpiece! Plain black rectangular boxes just do not cut it. Plus I bet the tactile feel of those controls are like a fine Swiss Watch. Oh, and I guess it performs well too. 😊

    If anyone ever wants to be philanthropic? 😉 Of course, then I would need to upgrade the rest of my components. 😖

    • 2024-06-24 07:36:53 PM

      Josquin des Prez wrote:

      I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I don't care for the look of this, and don't like the meters period. It's too busy and draws attention to itself. I prefer a more stark plain appearance of my Naim Superline (nothing but a small lamp to sho it has power) or the Boulder 1108 which is understated by comparison. I don't want to look at my gear. I want to hear it playing music.

      • 2024-06-24 08:42:10 PM

        Zaphod wrote:

        So true!