Vitus Audio visit to the UK – a recap

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It was at the very dawn of the Tuesday that we rose from the cold and depressing centre of Jylland to embark on our very first solo adventure outside Scandinavia. Even though our eyes were sluggish, our spirits were high; elevated to almost ecstatic levels. Nothing could bring us down, not even snowy delays, bumpy rides, and the sheer heart attacks from suddenly being on the wrong side of the roads! Oh sunny England, why don’t you drive in the right lane?

Our journey was carefully planned by the local VA importer, Fraser from Airt Audio, with pivoting dealer destinations across England such as The Audiobarn, Martins HiFi, Lotus HiFi, Home Media and a final closing act at Midland Audio xChange.

The Audiobarn

Arriving at this prestigious dealer’s premises, The Audiobarn was a sight unlike anything we’ve seen before. A HiFi shop in a barn. A stroke of ingenuity by creating an outside-of-the-box identity along with the most modern looking barn we’ve ever come across – and if you’ve ever visited the landside of Jylland, you know we’ve seen our fair share of barns.

The exterior of The Audiobarn
The exterior of The Audiobarn

When we entered the Barn we saw Jack, Graeme and Ben rushing to get their final boxes moved around after a complete re-do of the interior, something credited to Ben who’s been in the interior design industry for many years prior to switching over to focusing on HiFi and Home Cinema.

The store consists of two floors – a ground floor with Head-Fi and a second floor for HiFi. Our main interest was obviously the second floor; a large open space with their demo pieces neatly placed on HiFi furniture along the walls.

A cup of coffee was poured, and we got to know each other, learn about their business, mindsets, strengths, and general approaches to selling and support.

Our impression of The Audiobarn overall; it’s a very energetic place with people who have a profound interest in music, playback qualities and most of all, customer care.

Alexander from Vitus Audio, Glen from Airt Audio and the team from The Audiobarn
The team at The Audiobarn with Alexander from Vitus Audio and Glen from Airt Audio
Alexander Lukas and the team at The Audiobarn
Alexander Lukas and the team at The Audiobarn

Martins HiFi

Sails were then set towards Norwich, home of Martins HiFi. A shop with the most interesting backstory: two brothers purchasing an electronic goods store but later converting it into a solely HiFi-focused store. We urge everyone interested looking up their website, or better still, visit them.

Standing outside Martins HiFi
Standing outside Martins HiFi

Arriving at the store we were introduced to Marcus, a proficient manager, father of two and a fellow squash player (Marcus, if you read this, I, Alexander, challenge you to a duel on our next visit). Marcus gave us a quick tour of the history-written shop, their demo room and their visual effect’ish cinema-type demo room which they’ve just started to tear down for modernisation. A shame we thought, but we were honoured to get to witness the room.

After the tour we were left in the care of Steve Forrest and Jack Capon and, truth be told, it didn’t take very long to get on the same wavelength. Banter and jokes were flowing, and mixed with truths and honesty, the listening sessions, feedback, tips and tricks provided by both parties made the visit not only fruitful from a technical and business perspective, but especially on a friendship basis.

After a wine and dine, we were left with immense pride to be represented by such a well-established, well-rounded dealer with such a variety of people with synergising skillsets. Honourable mentions for Elizabeth, Russel, and Sam. We look forward to seeing you all again, hopefully soon.

Lotus HiFi

Our Wednesday was a bit more streamlined. No flights, no queues, no getting up at 4’o-clock in the morning. Thank god.

We all got cramped into the wildest Alfa Romeo and sped off to London where Lotus HiFi resides. A normal shop would be accessible to most people, on a corner perhaps, but Richard went with a different route. He acquired a luxury home in a gated residential area, while completely rebuilding a room in the house for demo purposes, only accessible by appointment. Richard noted it was a purposeful decision to suit his lifestyle while attracting a specific type of cliental and believe us when we say: It does!

The listening room at Lotus HiFi
The listening room at Lotus HiFi

We’ve worked with Lotus HiFi for many years and Richard’s skillset has had a tremendous impact on the UK market for VA. He has used his very well written blog posts to increasingly extend his already wide reach to teach people about his findings, experiences, and opinions.

While it was not our first encounter with Richard, there’s always a certain intimacy visiting each other outside of trade shows. We got to see how Lotus HiFi operates, how presentations are made, feedback and non-published experiences, thus ensuring the visit not only strengthens our bond but ultimately helps us improve as a company.

It’s worth noting, we at Vitus Audio always love to see our products next to other high-quality products such as Avalon, Thrax and Tidal.

More equipment in the Lotus HiFi listening room
More equipment in the Lotus HiFi listening room

Home Media Limited

We assume you’re familiar with the saying “there’s more to this than meets the eye”. Its a phrase that perfectly describes our initial impression of Home Media. We walk in and the setup screams boutique. Rustic shelves with gear abound, everything is neatly placed, perfectly spaced apart, no visual clutter and the products are divided into sections giving a very easy overview of the tidy store with two very nice demo rooms in the back.

The touch and personality that has been poured into every detail is remarkable, and welcomes any interested soul into the dealership. Bear in mind, this was just our initial impression and all aspects got amplified when we got to meet and talk with Simon and his son Chris. Some of the most modest and down to earth people you will meet. Anyone who knows Simon will know what we mean, and to everyone who has yet to meet Simon, please give him, Chris and John a visit and experience the empathy and customer relations they excel at. Want an example? Sure. As we left the restaurant, we stumbled into what we presumed was a friend of Simon’s, but no, it was a customer hugging him.

We have nothing but positive things to say about Home Media. They’ve been in the game for decades and we greatly value their efforts in adding Vitus Audio to their repertoire.

Midland Audio xChange

The main event, the final act of our journey. Midland Audio xChange is a monstrous size of a dealership. Legend has it the building used to be an old church, perhaps the legend is wrong, however, the atmosphere now oozes Music and HiFi. John Roberts, the owner, is not just a vivid HiFi enthusiast; he plays music and also collects rare guitars.

For us, the event is stretched out over two days, Thursday for setup and Friday for demoing. Initial setup day went by fast. The systems were unboxed, sweatingly carried up the stairs and plugged in to warm up. The exciting part was Friday, show day, so to speak.

One of the systems set up for demonstration at Vitus Audio event at Midland Audio xChange
One of the systems set up for demonstration at Vitus Audio event at Midland Audio xChange

As representatives of Vitus Audio, we could step back and observe how John, Fraser and Glen worked their magic, and obviously step in whenever necessary. We got to speak to John’s current clients, learn about their systems, their preferences, their music tastes and get their feedback. This was a completely different experience to setting up a booth at a trade show as all visitors at this event came to specifically listen to Vitus Audio instead of just being one room among many.

During the event we got to demonstrate SM-103 vs SS-103, Rock vs Classic mode, Turntable vs CD vs Streamer. The visitors attention to detail was incredible. Minor nuances were spotted straight away. Product favourites were made only to have that opinion turned upside down by switching modes. Internal positive discussion was had. All in all, observational delights from positive comments such as “I’m a vivid turntable guy, but that CD-player is something I can actually enjoy.” were the icing on the cake.

Both John, Airt and ourselves believe the event to have been a great success and we hope it won’t be long until the next one.

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