Some of the smaller audio stores seem to spring up out of nowhere. Audio Oasis is different. Based in Fordingbridge, in Hampshire, Audio Oasis is the work of Robbie Trim, whose roots go way back. Robbie’s first Saturday job as a young man was in his father’s shop Salisbury Hi-Fi, and the passion for music and the bug for making music sound better never left him.
Audio Oasis has a powerful reputation for quality of service that reflects a multi-generational understanding of the audio business and the importance of the customer. Audio Oasis deliberately remains small and therefore agile and responsive to the customers’ need, so that customers uniformly praise the company’s ability to ‘go the extra mile’, and that comes right down to Robbie’s sheer professionalism.
Profoundly two-channel in approach, we spoke to Robbie Trim at his Hampshire base about the highs and lows of stereo, about what makes a good dealer, and more…
Hi-Fi+: What brands do you stock?
RT: I’m very much a two-channel music man at heart who has never owned an AV system and I’m always looking to add to my portfolio if I believe that brand can enhance my customers listening experience.
Major brands include: Pathos Acoustics, Thorens, Rosso Fiorentino, IsoTek, Leema Acoustics, Clearaudio – Diapason, Graham Engineering, The Chord Co., Onix DNA, and Hi-Fi Racks.
What inspired you to get into the industry?
I can’t recall one defining moment that made me decide I wanted to work in the hi-fi industry. I kind of fell into a Saturday job in my Father’s hi-fi shop and as someone once said to me “once this industry gets hold of you it doesn’t let you go”!!
I’ve been involved in all aspects of the industry from production to distribution, but mainly retail. I love music and the effect it can have on you and I still want to share that experience with my customers.
The feeling, sensation, emotion that a truly exceptional hi-fi system can give you has grown stronger in me over the many years I’ve been in the industry and it can still stop me in my tracks.
I can honestly say I’ve never considered doing anything else and do hope I’m lucky enough to go through my entire working life in this industry.
What music do you listen to when doing a demo?
I’ll always try and leave the choice of music to the customer, that way they should be in a position to evaluate any improvements, or otherwise, to their system from an informed position. In doing so you do get to hear some quite weird and wonderful recordings that I wouldn’t ordinarily choose to listen to myself … over the years it has certainly broadened my musical horizon!!
That said, I nearly always go for female vocal myself to kick things off, currently I’m playing Natalie Merchant –Tigerlily.
I do harbour a life long ambition to appear on Desert Island Discs!!
What is the best piece of advice you can give someone who is looking to improve/upgrade their system?
Always listen before you buy, and if at all possible try and find a dealer who will let you audition equipment at home in your own system/enviroment … listening in a dealer’s demonstration room, which can often be acousticly treated, is one thing but there’s no substitute for auditioning new equipment in your own home.
Don’t rush into a decision, give yourself enough time to listen and evaluate the differences.
Remember you’re making a choice of how to spend your hard-earned money and the purchasing process should be an equally enjoyable experience as owning that new piece of equipment.
Finally, you only have to satisfy yourself … hi-fi, like many things in life, is a very intimate and personal experience so choose whatever fires your emotions and don’t necessarily be influenced by others.
Where do you see the industry going?
As somebody who first entered the industry in 1981 (and has a huge CD collection) I would love to think CD could have a revival much like vinyl is currently enjoying but I somehow doubt that will be the case.
As I answer this question I’m moved to be reminded on the news today that vinyl album sales (£2.4 million) out performed digital downloads (£2.1 million) last week but that doesn’t tell the full story. Basically 120,000 vinyl albums were sold whilst 295,000 digital albums were sold. This does indicate vinyl album lovers are prepared to spend more to actually own something tangible.
That said there can be no getting away from the fact digital “one box” storage and streaming solutions controlled by a phone or tablet are not only here to stay but very much the future.
As a dealer do you try and shape the direction of the market or go with the flow and give the people what they want? I’m sure it’s a question many of us are asking ourselves on daily basis.
Who has been your biggest influence?
That’s easy … without doubt my Father, John Trim of Salisbury Hi-Fi – I first went to work with him on Saturday mornings when I was 11 years old, I’m now 46 and have done nothing else for the past 35 years!!
Dad is now retired and pretty much spends all day every day listening to his music and I’d be very much surprised if a week went by where I didn’t still phone him up for a little advice or help somewhere along the way.
Solid State, Valve or Hybrid… and why?
I stock all three and therefore see the merits and benfits of each design. For me there’s no right or wrong / better or worse; it’s very much an individual choice. One week I’ll have a Leema Tucana at home, the next a Pathos InPol and if I was forced to make a choice … I’d have one of each.
I do think it’s nearly impossible to find that one amplifier that is “all things to all men”. Our ears are different, our tastes our different, our needs are different so as a dealer it’s important to recognise this and provide a broad choice and not be biased to one particular product or design.
What’s the best & worst part of your job?
Best: Meeting some interesting and enjoyable characters, both within the industry and customers… many of whom have become good friends over the years.
Sitting comfortably, drinking tea and coffee whilst listening to music on some wonderful systems … it’s a hard life sometimes.
Worst: Finding enough hours in the day to keep up with all that’s new going on within the industry.
I’m passionate about providing a personalised and quality experience for all my customers and, being a small independent, this does lead to some sleepless nights!
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