Owner - LP12 & 2-Channel Specialist
Various paper rounds and Saturday jobs meant that I’d brought my first “Hi-Fi” aged 13. A Garrard SP25 Mk4 turntable and Eagle AA2 amplifier with Wharfedale Linton II loudspeakers. Various upgrades followed and, by the time I was 17, I was the proud owner of a Garrard DD130, a JVC JAS11G amp and a pair of truly awful Wharfedale Teesdales! All brought from a shop called Laskys. You may remember them from the distant past. I then discovered a shop called Listen Inn in Northampton in 1978 and one day while waiting to be looked after, I just found myself helping out the owner and selling bits and bobs!
Before very long, I was working on Saturdays. This helped greatly while trying to keep a perspective on things whilst working at Unilever Research in Sharnbrook, Bedfordshire during my gap year, and the following three years whilst getting myself through college at Oxford Polytechnic in Headington Oxford. The small amount of money I earned was most useful. Every Saturday I was on the early bus out from Oxford to Northampton so as to be at work for 10am. Such commitment from a student! Two hours on a double-decker bus! I must have been mad or just a music nut. My system was now far more respectable: Dunlop Systemdek 1 in brown nextel, Mission 774, Grado Signature, PS Audio IV Phono stage with a large external PS and Linear Control Center (preamp) with Meridian M2s all in a small 2.5m by 3m room in my hall of residence.
Despite graduating well with a BSc Hons in Environmental Biology and being offered a post-graduate research position at Salford University, there was no grant funding available for me at that time (early 1980’s). So, to pay the bills whilst I considered my future, I worked at Listen Inn part-time. Before long, I was full time and then shop manager. My hobby was becoming my profession and all my education was now just being used for my hobby! Yes, I could have gone back to work for Unilever Research as I’d worked there in my gap year, but I just couldn’t face being just a number again. So, that’s how I started in Hi-Fi…… over the following years I became a Director in one business in Northampton and a Partner in a second business in Leicester. However, as the business grew, I felt I was losing interest and contact with what I enjoyed most: Customers and fellow Hi-Fi enthusiasts. So in 1997 I separated from Listen Inn Northampton and struck out on my own in Leicester.
I named my business Cymbiosis, a deliberate miss-spelling of the biological term for a mutually beneficial relationship between two or more organisms, a throwback to my earlier college days, now just one of my many hobbies which in addition to music and high quality music reproduction, include looking after my Lotus Sunbeam, which I’ve owned for the last 40 years. I brought it in the same year I brought my first Linn LP12 and I think some of the patience required when working with vehicles like this transferred to my enjoyment of LP12 set-up! Other hobbies I like to enjoy when time allows include motorsports, walking, cycling and travel.
I’m very fortunate in having a great family and, being my own boss, doing exactly what I want for a living; helping people get more musical enjoyment out of their Hi-fi systems. Although I am the founder and owner of Cymbiosis, I’m definitely at my happiest when I’m getting my hands dirty, indulging in my passion for setting up and getting the best out of turntables and two channel Hi-fi systems. I very much prefer being very hands on and not sitting behind a desk in an office somewhere. I consider myself very lucky to be able to do this, as I have a great team of guys at the shop helping me. Without them, it would not be possible to do what I do.
More and more these days, I find myself ranging further and further away from Leicester, both nationally and internationally. I have been privileged to have travelled to America, Australia, many places in Asia and all over Europe looking after Linn and Naim enthusiasts. What a fantastic way to earn a living!
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