Turning the Tables: a talk with Stephen Daniels from the Sound Organisation
We were super-jazzed to have Stephen Daniels with us at our Grand Opening last week. Stephen is with the Sound Organisation (based in Dallas), which imports a number of brands from Europe into the US, including the performance-driven brand Rega Research and their awesome turntables. We’re pumped to carry the Rega turntables in our store! We sat down with Stephen to talk about old times, audiophiles, and how music can transform the family home.
Stephen’s relationship with Alan began in 2003, when he began to ship the Rega Research brand to Audio Alternative. Stephen says he remembers the old HiFi Buys brand, and that “it’s interesting to see the name revived. It’s good to see the rebirth.” At the Grand Opening, Stephen met a lot of people who go way back in our audio history!
Rega Research has a policy of always making things better. In their factory in England all products are hand made. The company has a 41-year history of going for the authentic sound experience and making the best equipment possible. Rega is a wholly owned and independent company; because of that, it doesn’t have to cater to market pressures. It’s analogous to the car manufacturer Morgan, hand crafted and hand built, but at affordable prices.
Stephen believes the relationship with HiFi Buys is critical to the success of Rega Research in the States. “We always look for good specialist retailers who can demonstrate the product,” he states. “One of the challenges in the specialist hifi market is that the man on the street doesn’t recognize many of the brand names. We’re dependent on specialist retailers to show what performance can be achieved.” Many consumers are unaware of the difference in hifi performance that is discernible even without a “golden ear.”
Stephen laughs, “actually, sometimes audiophiles make the worst listeners, because they’re so ingrained with the hifi that they sometimes forget about the music.” For many years, Stephen did seminars where he would play a piece of music on 2 turntables or amplifiers, and he would ask the audience what the differences were. True to form, the audiophiles could tell him all about the differences, but then he would ask what the song was about—and he would get crickets chirping in the audience!
To help the potential buyer understand more about the Rega turntable product, Sound Organisation relies on specialist retailers like HiFi Buys—especially when it comes to vinyl records. Rega just launched, in collaboration with the band Queen’s new Box Set, a special edition of the Rega turntable. According to Stephen, “it’s important to get people to realize it’s cool to own a turntable. I’ve been in the industry long enough to remember when vinyl was the primary medium. Now CD’s are on the outs and vinyl is making a resurgence. “It’s an interesting opportunity for the hifi industry that young people are starting to get back into a quality medium. It’s actually cool to have a turntable and a record.”
There’s been a tremendous interest in the Millennial generation with vinyl. He attributes the surge in popularity with the artists. “A lot of the cool new bands are saying to their audiences, ‘if you want to hear the true sound, buy the vinyl record.’ Records were harder to find a few years ago–now even Barnes and Noble has records. More and more people have been attracted to the medium. It’s a throwback against convenience and ease of use. It’s great to walk around with portable devices with ear buds, but there’s something about taking the time to put a record on and listen to it as a whole.”
What’s the main difference? With a digital device, people tend to skip around; they don’t listen to an album. They’re not listening as the artist intended: to tell a story with a beginning, middle and end via their music. Stephen says, “a lot of the older albums were stories on a piece of plastic, and I think people are slowing down slightly and looking for, dare I say, a genuine experience.”
Recently Stephen spoke with a customer’s wife about their purchase of a Rega system. When asked if she noticed any changes in the home, she said that the family used to segregate to watch TV, but when they listened to music they were all in the same room: even the kids. It had transformed the house into a home. This reinforces his belief—and our belief—that music is an international language of feeling and emotion. It crosses centuries and languages—and, to quote Stephen, “an authentic musical experience on a good system can be life transforming.” Who’d have thought that a turntable could bring a family together? Pretty cool, right?
Don’t miss out on this experience! Drop by the store to hear the Rega Turntable for yourself!