Born half a century ago in Düsseldorf in the German Rhine region, I moved to Berlin at age 17, which back then was still divided and cut in two by the Wall.
Already in the middle of the 80′s, my passion for music and Hi-Fi turned into my final job – even though I had a very different path in mind when I had moved to Berlin.
But, as with most situations in life, things often work out quite differently than planned or envisaged.
The music aficionados and audiophiles in Berlin all knew each other – West Berlin was a village – and so I had the privilege of getting to know some gurus of the German Hi-Fi scene. My good old friend Andreas Schubert used to work at Audiolabor, which gave me insight, knowledge and sound experiences that have made a mark on me up to this day.
Together with Dieter Burmester, Ulli Rahe (Rabox), Heiner Basil Martion (Martion Horn systems) and Alfred Rudolf (A Cappella), Audiolabor was among the very first generation of German high-end equipment manufacturers that was able to challenge international competitors. Back then, the Hi-Fi landscape was virtually entirely dominated by US and UK companies.
Audiolabor – the company where also my friend Andreas had worked – was owned by the partners Helmut Brinkmann and Hannes Knorn at the time. The legendary Audiolabor Konstant turntable gets analogue fans raving even today. The Audiolabor range all had quirky, very descriptive model names such as “Fein” (fine), “Klar” (clear), “Stark” (powerful), “Flink” (swift) and “Konstant” (constant). Audiolabor does no longer exist for a couple of decades. Together with Hannes Knorn – one of its founding members and a good friend of mine since the early 90′s – we started our own company TAD Audiovertrieb GmbH, based in Bavaria, Germany, as partners.
Helmut Brinkmann – the other founding member and developer of Audiolabor – is extremely successful with his own company for some decades: Brinkmann Audio Systeme.
In the late 80′s, meeting Peter Lyngdorf changed my life. Peter Lyngdorf is the founder of the Danish speaker brand Dali and owner of HiFi Klubben which is present in all the Nordic countries. At some stage he owned NAD, Snell (Peter Snell) and was a driver of TacT (TacT Millenium and Room Correction). Today, Peter Lyngdorf and his latest works are known through his cooperation with Steinway (Steinway/Lyngdorf)
“You can run the distribution of Dali in Germany” suggested Peter… “so far we haven’t got an agent there”. And through this offer I suddenly was the sole importer of a speaker brand that today has an outstanding reputation all over the world due its quality and good value for money. So it’s little wonder that the formerly ‘little Danish company Dali’ is speeding past the big ‘previously British’ brands – as today these are all firmly in Chinese hands. The only thing that remained is the brand name. But back to the late 80′s! From here it was hard work, thousands of kilometres with an overloaded van full of loudspeakers. Dealer visits, press interviews, trade fairs etc. etc.
Slowly the first moments of success settled in and Dali became a known brand in Germany. Then came exciting years during which I imported the Italian brand Chario to Germany, and I remember many hundred pairs of small Academy 1 which the German market literally soaked up and devoured like a sponge.
I have come to know many brands in the last decades, and associated with them I often met very amiable people to whom I still maintain a warm relationship up to this day. Primare, Audiomat, Audio Analogue, Wilson Benesch and Pathos are only but a few that come to mind.
At the turn of the millennium, my partner Hannes Knorn and I discovered the small Tivoli Model One table radio at the TOP AUDIO in Milan – and with determination, hard work and some luck we took over the distribution and market launch of a real icon. To this date, we have sold more than 600,000 Tivoli products in Germany and Austria. A Model One and/or Tivoli Pal simply should be part of every good household – today as back then.
Then in 2004 we discovered the fresh start-up company Geneva Lab in Zurich and launched it on the German market – also with great success.
During this time we were so busy with the enormous amounts of table radios and Geneva sound systems that we ended up neglecting our previous core business. With the exception of Unison Research (to whom we already had a good collaboration for many years) we no longer had any other noteworthy Hi-Fi brand in our portfolio.
By chance we met the guys from rega, who wanted us to be their new distributor for Germany. And this relationship is not only business-related, as Hannes and I have a very close friendship and deep connection with Roy and Phil. We love rega – and I can say with pride that this great brand rega steeped in tradition (since 1973) sells many thousands of turntables in Germany through us… I can only say it again: the record is back! My very personal, deep and long-standing passion is actually devoted to a small but very fine Danish company – Gryphon Audio Systems. And I am very proud that Flemming Rasmussen has entrusted us with distributing his unique products – even though Germany is not an easy market in this very high-priced segment. Listening to Gryphon is like driving a Bugatti or Bentley. It is a truly exclusive experience.
For 20 years I have been living in the most rural part of Bavaria – in the region known as Bavarian Forest among people, friends and neighbours that have received me with a warm welcome – and by now I feel more like a ‘Woidler’ (Forester) than a Rhineland guy.
Over the years, however, I discovered South Africa as my new home, and this is where I would now like to prove myself professionally – both in art and in music.
And now I am looking forward to today and to the future.
How will Thirteen be received in Cape Town? Is the concept too daring, too exclusive, or does Cape Town have enough like-minded people that Thirteen will be able to give some musical and artistic inspiration?
This, dear readers and hopefully visitors, is up to you to decide.