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Passion and Money: the lo$$e$ I don’t regret




You’re looking at an Australian Monitor AM 1600 mosfet power amplifier, made by my firm and designed by Stuart McLean. Greg Hicks was the foreman at the factory we set up behind Graftons Sound and Lighting in Campbell street east Sydney in 1986. Hundreds of these still solider on, testimony to the brutal engineering. See the Bakelite plate holding down the 10 amp toroidal transformer (flown in from Scotland) in the middle? And the custom extrusions each side, with front and rear extrusions that we had hand milled by a big happy Canadian kid who did nothing but operate the aluminum router every day?

I ran out of money before we hit production so Hymie Meyerson and Lionel Krupp ventured in for a half share worth $400,000. We all ran out of money before the first hundred amps were sold, but we kept it all going until I gave up in 1988 and walked away, $1 million poorer.

Based on the 1,000 amps made (Stuart and Hicks, please update the number if I am wrong) I subsidized each amplifier to the tune of $1,000.

Hymie and Lionel poured in a lot more money as well, no one will ever know what they lost before they sold or gave the brand to Audio Telex, who continued it until this day, albeit with product made in India. Hymie and Lionel had guts to partner with me – a pair of Jewish South Africans, and an uneducated kid from the slums of Woolloomooloo. Who knew?

Not knowing how to learn from prior mistakes I waded into a college venture in 2002, and by the time I closed Julius Events College in 2010, I was down $1.5 million. So again, with around 1,000 kids enrolled over that time for anything from a short course to a Diploma, each and every one of them was subsidized $1,500 for their decision!

I started to calculate the cost per student on a course duration and graduation basis last night, in between the Villa Maria Pino Gris and the Greenache Barossa Rose – but I ran out of formulas and brain matter. It works out to roughly $20,000 per Diploma graduate, and given they paid me $14,000 to do the course, that’s a serious whack to the economy. Especially considering there are only 100 of them working meaningfully in the industry, which blows the cost right out, so each and every one of them cost someone $35,o00 to educate.

The final passion lesson relating to money (that I failed) was the marriages – but those three girls all deserved every dollar they got, given my apparent errors above.


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  1. TW on March 27, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    CRIKEY ! (to quote a famous (ex)-queenslander)
    How do you still get around with that big cheesey grin and looking so happy all the time??? …oh of course…the Pino’s and Rose’s probably help!
    Soldier on, brother…no guts, no glory.

  2. Jon on April 2, 2014 at 3:01 am

    Do it once do it right, some would say.

    The Aus Monitor and other local amps still running from the era seem to keep on going. Heavy but reliable. Build quality was solid with no delicate electronics to blow up without warning, or a specified component lifespan before failure. Not stripped out.

    Some new tech is good in terms of being lightweight and offering practical features but we still require reliability under all conditions.

    Wasn’t it Rupert Neve who said in an interview that he wished some of his gear would be a little less realiable and serviceable, so he could manufacture and sell more of his newer offerings?

  3. Colin @ ARX on June 30, 2014 at 8:24 pm

    Julius, just found this post. I reckon the people who made the most $$s out of our (AM & ARX) Power Amps in the 80s were Hitachi, it was like bolting 20 or so $20.00 notes onto the heatsinks.

    And I’d hate to think how much it cost you to send out all those Sonics Yearbooks with the pages trimmed to the Aussie Monitor Adverts, an impressive bit of marketing…

    Calculating how much you can occasionally loose in business is going to drive you to drink something a little more robust than Villa Maria Pino Gris………..

    Every year when I calculate our budget and costs to exhibit at the Frankfurt PLS I have a conversation with Duncan proposing we just send each of our 40+ distributors a grand and we stay home in the warmth & sunshine….

    But each year the temptation of beer sausage and a dose of European Flu lures us back………

  4. Nigel on August 10, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    Hi I just found you article…I am so sad that you made such a brillian amp and did not reap the reward of your work…life is so unfair…I have 22 AM1600 amps and want another 10 more I love them they are an awesome amp….and I don’t care about the weight…pay a few roadies to move them around….good luck in the future and you have my utmost admiration and appreciation….and the money you subsidised on each amp I will appreciate and respect that fact every time I use the amps….

  5. Greg Hicks on August 14, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    Hi Julius, re the number of AM1600’s made.
    The number made did I think come close to or pass the 2500 mark.

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