One of Manchester’s best loved audio dealers, brianandtrevors was one of the first dealers to abandon the store-front in favour of replicating a domestic home environment. Taking over a whole house in Greater Manchester, first as House of Linn and more recently as brianandtrevors (named after the two ex-Linn team members and owners of the company, Brian Morris and Trevor Liddle), the company has grown from being an exclusive Linn consultancy to a complete audiophile must-visit centre.
Fast approaching the company’s tenth year, we asked Brian and Trevor (more accurately, we asked ‘brianandtrevor’) about the company, how they got into audio, and advice they have for music lovers and audiophiles.
What brands/products do you stock?
It is almost ten years since we established House of Linn, the expert Linn consultancy. As brianandtrevors, we do a number of things; our main interest is configuring system solutions and upgrades from the brands we offer, from power to performance, including furniture and other products that maximise information retrieval and musical output of individual system components to realise their true potential. Linn is our “house brand system solution” and the most advanced source-to-speaker, single-brand upgradeable system solution that we offer. We know, because we used to work for them! We are Linn and Linn EXAKT specialists. We upgrade Linn systems to EXAKT specification and upgrade Exakt-compatible loudspeakers from the Linn range past and present as well as loudspeakers from other manufacturers, ready to perform in a Linn EXAKT System. In addition to our House of Linn range, our brands include ATC, Audio Technica, Dynaudio, Booplinth, Entreq, Graham Audio, Keith Monks, Melco, Musical Fidelity Nu Vista, PS Audio, REL, Stamford Audio, Chord Cable Company, Vitus Audio, Quadraspire, and Trinnov Audio. A new brianandtrevors website is underway and will be live as soon as we finish it.
What inspired you to get into the industry?
(Brian) My first hi-fi job was, as a teenager with a part time holiday job at a Co-op in Manchester City Centre, alternating between selling ‘hi-fi systems’ in the electrical department and menswear! Then many years later, I ended up working for Linn for fifteen years!
(Trevor) Before joining Linn, I worked in audio and hi‑fi retailing, selling Linn and other quality brands. I also played drums in a number of local bands in and around my Oxford hometown. Like Brian, I also worked for Linn for many years!
We always remember our first experiences as hi-fi enthusiasts – comparing different audio components and systems and listening to our favourite recordings through hi-fi systems that promised to deliver alive, realistic, and truly moving performances. Installing a proper music system takes time and often the traditional shop dem rooms are simply not good enough to evaluate a substantial investment in hi-fi. To us, it was vital to provide the best demonstration environment for any system to deliver its potential so we set up our consultancy in a large Victorian house where we offer the complete client service from advice and personalised demonstrations by appointment to complete installation and aftercare. We advise, demonstrate, install, and aftercare sources, amplification, loudspeakers, and systems for owners of hi-end systems who want a dramatic improvement in system performance. Our many years of experience give us an excellent understanding of brands that we do not sell, which has proved useful in many instances. We offer realistic trade-in terms to make upgrading easier.
What music do you listen to when doing a demo?
To begin with, we use acoustic music, simple recordings to show reproduction of musical notes, harmonics, texture and timbre of instruments, and how musical reproduction and information retrieval improves as we demonstrate better sources for example. Often, clients bring their own recordings, vinyl and digital, but we always use a benchmark to begin with to establish a system’s musical integrity. Ultimately, we want a system to reveal the full benefit of a recording, including a convincing sense of space where the recording occurred. Of course, we never know how much information is actually captured in any piece of recorded music. No one does, not even the recording studios know! We have spent a lot of time recently demonstrating stereo music with the addition of sub-bass reinforcement (sub on left and right channels and behind the listener). Adding a sub or two (or even three) to a stereo system reignites a personal passion, as this achieves better tonal balance and greater scale when correctly implemented, making the listening room walls sonically disappear as the soundstage widens and deepens.
What is the best piece of advice you can give to someone who is looking to improve/upgrade their system?
Come and see us! We examine the weaknesses in the current system starting with the source, then amplification, loudspeakers, and cabling. We run comparative demonstrations starting with the source(s). We offer bespoke system solutions and upgrades focussing always on a source-first approach to system building, making sure our clients always receive the best value for money from demonstration to purchase to aftercare. From single systems for music and movies to network music throughout the home for whole home audio. Demonstrations can last for hours – and we are happy that they do!
Where do you see the industry going?
We are always keen to audition new innovative system components we find interesting and adopt if they deliver better performance – from storage to speakers. Since the start of our business in 2007, high performance audio technology has developed very quickly, almost continuously, and many new audio products now offer even better performance from single, rather than multiple components.
There is a place for every technology in our industry, especially now with even better product design producing integrated amplification products for example, with better performance than some multiple box systems we can name!
Vinyl, CD, or streaming… and why?
We love vinyl above all other formats. We have a large library of around 3000 albums available to dem. Original recordings that go back to the golden age of music; pure analogue recordings, and to the present day of course. We are forever buying vinyl, new and used. Some of the newer digital recordings pressed on vinyl sound superb; others can sound compressed, where more care could have been taken in the recording process. Pure analogue recordings, of course, sound best.
Streaming CD quality and 24bit streaming will replace download as more people adopt and subscribe to streaming services like Tidal and Qubuz, etc., for accessing digitally available music. The downside to great digital sound via streaming, is never owning a music collection, only owning playlists. CDs will probably always be available just as vinyl never disappeared. There is room for all physical music media – owning vinyl and CD collections is an important aspect of engaging with artists, their music, and performance.
What advice would you give someone buying today?
Go see your specialist! There will always be a polarisation of products from the cheapest to the best, from single brands packages to bespoke, multi-brand solutions. The specialist is in the middle of all of this, listening and understanding what works best within their range of experience and knowledge. You can’t get this advice on eBay or reliably from the forums. The only way to know is to just listen and judge for yourself. This way, customers receive better value and avoid expensive mistakes!
What has been your biggest influence?
The Linn LP12 Turntable, for which we now do a great deal of servicing and upgrades for our clients. We like the LP12 so much we developed the Booplinth upgrade for an even greater and more revealing LP12 performance!
What questions are you often asked?
Can you give me another receipt to show the wife?
Should I buy an LP12 off eBay?
What is Exakt?
Do you do Home Demonstrations?
Will new loudspeakers improve my hi-fi system?
Do you install outside of the UK?
+44(0)161 766 4837
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