2020: Our Year In Review
2020: Our Year In Review
Firstly, I hope this finds you safe and well. How can we really sum up 2020 in words? A year that has brought incredible progress for us here at ‘The Barn’, whilst also creating anxiety and concern on so many different levels. Bittersweet? Perhaps. But as we enter a very different festive period this year, all of us at The Audiobarn wish you and your loved ones a safe, happy, and relaxing Christmas, and sincerely thank you for all your support through this last year.
So as for putting 2020 into some form of context, and sharing some of the highlights of the year, I am actually finding it difficult to remember back to January and that ‘pre-covid’ era.
As fears became reality, that the coronavirus had left China and was now seeding in parts of Europe, we decided to push ahead with our ambitious showroom remodel.
Now we were very much in two minds over this. On the one hand, we wanted to optimise the space to ensure that the hi-fi being auditioned would sound as good as it should, and room/speaker interaction is of course a fundamental part of the equation. However we were also acutely aware of losing the very essence of The Audiobarn and the reason so many customers have told us they enjoy visiting us. Frankly, it would have been easy to throw money at acoustic panels, traps, diffusion panels etc, only to end up with something resembling a personalityless recording studio with no regard to what an actual home sounds like. So whilst ceiling panels were introduced to ‘normalise’ the ceiling height, and the excellent Acustica Applicata DAAD 4 absorption units were added, we opted instead for soft furnishing that can easily be recreated at home.
I can honestly say that the room does sound wonderful now. But just as importantly, it still feels like ‘The Audiobarn’, and a space where you can just relax and unwind and let the music do what music does…
Naim 500 Series
Part of the remodel included the arrival of our Naim 500 Series. Although something we had been planning for quite some time, its arrival nevertheless was quite a moment, and so we also decided to ‘treat’ ourselves to full run of Naim Fraim and Fraimlite to allow the new gear to really shine and show what it is capable of.
And so with our stunning new demo room completed and ready for unveiling, Lockdown 1 arrived. Thinking back now, I can recall the apprehension and fear that this would have a severe impact on business and really didn’t know where we would be a few months down the line. In reality, I think it was probably the busiest period we have ever had. With the support of manufacturers, we struggled to keep up with loan hifi going out to customers homes, upgrades brought forward, and I think many of us just wanting something to take our minds away from the horrific news coverage being shown on an hourly basis.
So with the wearing of the now ‘mandatory’ face mask and with plenty of ventilation, it was possible to keep helping customers and provide a bit of normality in an otherwise difficult time. Sadly it now looks like next year will continue in the same vein, at least initially, but we shall remain as committed and uncompromising in our approach to delivering the best customer experience possible – all in a Covid Safe manner.
New Faces - Welcome Andy
It is fair to say that as Summer 2020 (normally a quieter time in the hifi calendar) drew to a close, we were starting to become exhausted. Taking systems to customers houses, and installing them, all whilst wearing a mask, had literally taken its toll. Bring on the cavalry, in the form of Andy Holt, former manager at PJ HiFi in Guildford. We had known Andy on and off for a few years, and knew that he shared our ‘customer first’ approach and attention to detail, so it was with great excitement (and relief) when he decided to call his time on PJ and join us here at The Audiobarn. Andy does a great job of explaining his approach to Hi-Fi in his own blog post, which you can find in our news section!
We began a process of consolidation this year, deciding to focus on a core range of Hi-Fi which we feel not only compliments each other and provides synergy, but also offers a range of different presentations to cater for every musical taste. Think Kudos Audio and Dynaudio for Naim, whilst pairing the excellent Rockport Loudspeakers with Vitus Audio. So whilst we may stock fewer brands than others, this is by careful design…to understand our range and not over complicate what should be a fun experience!
And lastly, on a final note, thank you. Thank you for your support and working with us through this challenging year. It has been our pleasure to help bring the escapism of great music to you all at a time when we probably need it more than ever.
Stay safe, and have a very Happy Christmas.