Installation is a big part of what we do
We like to ensure that people get the best out of the equipment that they buy. Many of our customers are enthusiasts and they love setting equipment up and experimenting to get the best out of it. But others want to ensure they get help and advice doing this and we’re always glad to help.
Our furthest installation was on Shetland. The customer contacted us and arranged a demo and arrived by plane from Scotland to Manchester and by train to Sheffield. He auditioned a series of components and settled on some Wilson Benesch loudspeakers, a Chord DAC for his digital source and some AudioNet amplification. When he decided to place the order I said that the least we could do was deliver it for him and said I’d be glad to do it myself.
I had no idea how much of a challenge that would prove to be. The five hour drive to Aberdeen was as expected and I saw some beautiful countryside. I rolled the van onto the overnight ferry, grabbed a bite to eat in the on-board restaurant and took to bed before the ship had left the harbour. The plan was I’d arrive about 7.30 in the morning and have breakfast with the customer, before setting his system up and ensuring he was completely satisfied.
What I had not planned on was a force 12 at sea. I awoke at some point to find myself on the floor of my cabin. Standing was a real mistake and I quickly discovered I was not a natural sailor. Fortunately I discovered that if I got back in my bunk and hugged it for dear life; I could avert the worst feelings of nausea. I never slept a wink and by the time we docked my arms and shoulders were locked up.
Shetland is a bleak place (and I know bleak) but lovely in its own way. All the trees are leaning one way and I assume this is as a result of the prevailing wind.
My customer was very welcoming and said he’d expected the crossing to be rough. He’d perhaps been wise not to share that with me. We had a lovely breakfast and then I settled in to setting the system up.
Fortunately the system sounded wonderful and after some experimenting with speaker positioning and adjusting the customers isolation stand; I was really happy with the sound. With most of the equipment being brand new I expected it to improve dramatically. I had more tea and loaded up the traded in Cyrus electronics in the van and then returned to have another listen. It was at this point that I noticed a mark across the top of the speaker. Wilson Benesch were using an acrylic top on their models at the time and I’d peeled off the protective film to see a manufacturing defect on the top!
This sent me into something of a panic, simply because of the distance and logistics involved. I put a call in to Wilson Benesch and of course they were extremely sorry and didn’t know how it could have happened. They made some suggestions as to how I might see if I could fix the problem there but I had my reservations.
I explained the situation to the customer. He had left me alone to do the install because he said he “hated to work with someone staring over his shoulder”. I assured him that one way or another we’d make it all good and he was pretty chilled about the situation and suggested that if the mark wasn’t noticeable he’d be happy with it.
I spent the next hour driving round Shetland looking for a car parts shop. This was just before the arrival of smartphones by the way. Now a job like that would have been far simpler. Eventually I found somewhere that had “finishing paste”. I also received a superb tip from the man who handed it over. He told me to apply it and let it dry before working in very small circles and only using light pressure. He sold me some lint free cloths and I was away.
At the customers house I did exactly as the man had told me. Slowly I could see an improvement after every application and what pleased me was that the work wasn’t dulling the overall gloss of the finish. It took me an hour but by that point I was pretty convinced that the customer would be happy. I gave it one final application but this time worked over the entire top of the speaker to ensure there was no “clouding”.
I invited the customer up and was delighted when he said he didn’t even know which speaker was the one that was marked and was perfectly happy with the result. He also listened to a few albums and was thrilled with the early results. His reservations about the bass and the way it would integrate in the room had disappeared and everybody was happy with the results. We spent an hour working through some of the tracks he’d used in the shop and than he took me to a college over on the other side of Shetland for a bite to eat. He explained that the restaurant there was good and that orca’s could sometimes be seen in the bay.
It was mid afternoon that I left him with a handshake and a cheque and I went off to do a little exploring. Sadly the weather was against me and it had worsened throughout the day. I drove to the port to check the crossing and was told to my dismay that it was cancelled and it looked like it wouldn’t sail the following day either. I was stuck in Shetland for the duration.
I quickly became familiar with the cafe’s around the island. There wasn’t too much exploring that could be done because of the biting wind and driving rain. Now I understood why the trees all pointed one way!
That evening I had a curry and found a pub. It was a little bit of a “Shoulder of Lamb” moment from An American Werewolf in London. I think the ice was broken when I loaded up the jukebox with Thin Lizzy, which seemed to go down a storm. I ended up having a good night there.
I did manage to get on the ferry the following night. They advised me against it but at that point I would have chewed off my own limbs to get off the island. The weather had not improved at all during my stay and I was onboard an almost empty ferry. Dinner was a savage affair and once again I hugged my bunk until my arms ached.
When I drove off the ferry the next morning in Aberdeen I truly wanted to kiss terra firma.
A seven hour drive and I was back.
This wasn’t the most demanding installation I’d ever done physically but it was challenging in other ways and certainly ruled out a future career in the Navy.