While it’s easy to view the pursuit of high‑fidelity audio as an old man’s pastime, and that the manufacturers and dealers that work in that sector reflect the same ‘old geezer’ demographic, in reality this is a nonsense. There is no age barrier (young or old) for enjoying music, and DB HiFi perfectly reflects this simple fact.
A burgeoning new hi-fi retailer in the Norfolk/Suffolk borders, DB HiFi is the brainchild of one James Dean, who is proving to be one of the hardest working people in the audio business. His elegant premises in the village of Braiseworth in Mid Suffolk manage to perfectly replicate the home experience for his customers, while also providing a complete one-stop-shop for audiophiles in the East of England.
We spoke to James about what first got him into audio, who inspires him, and more...
Hi-Fi+: What brands/products do you stock?
JD: Jeff Rowland, PS Audio, Leema Acoustics, Blue Aura, Box-Design by Pro-Ject, Lehmann Audio, Musical Fidelity, Innuos, iFi, ATC, DALI, ELAC, Quadral, GoldenEar, Vandersteen, Pro-Ject, Ortofon, AudioQuest, WireWorld, IsoTek, Kennerton, Atacama, and Hi-Fi Racks.
What inspired you to get into the industry?
My passion for hi-fi first started in my late teenage years; I remember my mates getting nice cars – or whatever the latest craze was at the time – and I just wanted a hi-fi system! I appreciate the engineering of each product and getting the best from your music. I like traditional hi-fi dealer ‘values’: meeting people face-to-face, sitting down with a coffee, and taking time to know the customer and their system to deliver the absolute best service one can. At the end of the day, this is people’s hard-earned money and they must be made to feel special and also happy with what they buy – that means more to me than anything.
What music do you listen to when doing a demo?
We leave the choice up to the customer, I feel it’s important the customer knows the music and has a good understanding of how it ‘should’ sound. This way anything being changed or used in the system should shine through.
What is the best piece of advice you can give to someone who is looking to improve/upgrade their system?
Listening to the customers’ needs and requirements is paramount. It’s about getting it right for the customer – my advice is find a dealer you’re comfortable with and you believe will bend over backwards for your hi-fi needs.
What else do you recommend looking for in finding that kind of dealer?
I take it you mean more than just ‘come to DB HiFi!’ I would say you should ask your prospective dealer what they do that separates them from other retailers. Although there is a profusion of new audio devices, many retailers share a similar line-up of products, while others select a more diverse portfolio, and your choice of dealer should reflect this difference.
However, one should also be realistic about their claims. A dealer that says it can offer more than all its rivals while undercutting those rivals is very likely cutting corners somewhere. You may end up being the recipient of that corner-cutting exercise somewhere down the line.
Where do you see the industry going?
Hi-Fi is on the up at the moment. I believe this is helped by how easy it is to access music and make it sound great! I remember not many years ago going into a hi-fi shop with either a phone or laptop and being laughed at; now both of these sources can make music sound just as good as any other source.
The industry has woken up to this and people are able to buy kit that pound for pound is probably better value for money than it’s ever been!
Who has been your biggest influence?
For me, it’s the late, lamented, and legendary comedian Bill Hicks, who famously said “It’s just a ride…”