Deco Audio in Aylesbury is perhaps the most traditional audio store opened recently in the UK, but that’s perhaps understandable, as it extends the long and significant tradition of having fine audio stores in the South of England.
Deco Audio in its earlier guise was one of the first hi-fi stores to use a domestic house as the venue for selling good audio. However, its success has meant it could move to new premises; in a business park on the outskirts of the town of Aylesbury. This runs counter to the normal direction of travel for hi-fi companies – recently they had bigger premises and shrunk down to size, rather than the other way around, so it bespeaks of a company with more of a finger on the audio pulse than many of its rivals, and that’s easy to understand as you take a look around the store. Rather than simply presenting the usual stock of audio suspects, this is a fun and vibrant place filled with some of the more exciting ranges of audio components and very few of the mainstream brands.
The company has something of a reputation for being a centre of turntable excellence, and in no small part this comes down to head honcho, Peter Empson. We spoke to Peter about Deco Audio’s ethos with respect to audio and music, and more besides...
HF+: What brands/products do you stock?
PE: Where do we start! We always try to offer products at a wide range of price points, but all are individually selected after careful listening and consideration. It would be unfair to just cherry pick a few as they are all here on their merits.
What ties all these products together is that they make music an event, they should portray the passion and energy of the performers. This tends to mostly bring us to championing simple circuits - single ended valve circuitry for analogue and, for digital, multi bit filter free conversion, natural materials for speaker drive units with designs that are efficient and therefore highly responsive. That all being said, we’re not dogmatic, and if something better comes along we’ll stock it, but we are very proud of our portfolio as it represents a lot of work over many years.
What music do you listen to when doing a demo?
Unless the customer requests otherwise we adopt a very relaxed approach to demonstrations, music is ideally any that a customer is familiar with. While we do always try to get the message across that to concentrate on any one aspect of an item or recording can be very misleading. Sadly it’s very common. The hi-fi world has taught people to listen this way, so people will be concentrating on the bass on one track or the decay of a cymbal on another. What can then get missed is the musicality. Ask yourself the question, are you enjoying the recording more than ever before? So taking your time and relaxing are absolutely key for long term enjoyment.
What is the best piece of advice you can give to someone who is looking to improve/upgrade their system?
Simple, find a dealer whose ears you can trust and build a relationship with them. Beyond that, leave no stone unturned, almost everything you do to a room or system is audible, don’t overlook any aspect from the acoustics through to the mains supply. These are all areas we can help with, as well as the actual kit itself of course.
Where do you see the industry going?
I’ve stopped worrying! Twenty years ago I was told hi-fi was dead and I should get into Home Cinema. Ten years ago I was told hi-fi was dead and I should be selling multi room systems. I’m very happy to have ignored this advice. I can only get enthusiastic about things I’m passionate about, and I feel very lucky to have been able to spend my ‘working’ hours assisting people get more enjoyment from their music.
What is heartening is that the recent vinyl revival has seen whole new generations get into vinyl, and many others return to vinyl. We find this means people are taking music much more seriously again, we are seeing a point where the consumption of music is moving from a ‘fast food’ experience to something akin to fine dining – a much more satisfying and rewarding experience that can only be good news for our industry.