Well what a year 2021 has been, both in terms of global events, and on a much smaller scale here at Expressive Audio too. I’d like to start our 2021 Year In Review by extending a massive thank you to all of our customers, our partners, our blog readers, our suppliers, our subscribers and followers, and anyone else who has otherwise supported Expressive Audio over the past year, and to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! It has been an incredible 12 months, and we couldn’t have hoped for a warmer welcome into the Lincolnshire community.
Despite the ever-present pestilence that is Covid-19, we have managed to achieve a lot in 2021, and we’re incredibly proud to have done so. From introducing new world-renowned brands such as Fyne Audio, ATC, Chord Electronics, and Rega to our portfolio, to finishing our period barn conversion showroom, it has been a whirlwind of dedication, hard work, and determination from the Expressive Audio team. After all, not many can say they built a successful bricks and mortar business, let alone during a worldwide pandemic!
The reaction to Lincolnshire’s newest HiFi, Home Cinema & Multiroom retailer has been overwhelmingly positive, but don’t just take our word for it - our 60 plus five-star reviews across Google and Trustpilot speak for themselves. Hearing how pleased our customers are to finally have a proper, independent source of AV equipment and expert advice is incredibly rewarding, and each time we see another review show up in the inbox it reminds us why we were so keen to develop the business in the first place. Indeed, selecting and purchasing HiFi and Home Cinema products can be a very personal journey, so it is understandable that customers appreciate a smaller, local business who can provide a more intimate experience and offer over 20 years' worth of expertise, rather than a disinterested corporate giant.
One of the many things we’re particularly proud of this year is to have been awarded Arcam’s prestigious Centre of Cinematic Excellence status, meaning we come highly recommended by Arcam as a place to experience the finest Home Cinema equipment. Having undergone professional training by Arcam for complex AV technologies such as Dirac Live, as well as receiving direct support from the Arcam engineers, we can help with almost any AV questions or issues you might have, and demo the best of home video and audio reproduction at our Lincolnshire Showroom.
Looking to next year, we have plenty of exciting projects we are working on, both for customers and for the business. We are hoping to start hosting more events around Lincolnshire, to offer people the opportunity to listen to, and watch, some truly incredible equipment. We are also looking forward to attending HiFi shows, and continuing to build Expressive Audio as a name in the HiFi industry. One ongoing project this year has been the support of Jamie W. Hall’s high resolution recording of Schubert’s Die Schöne Müllerin, so we can’t wait for the CD and DXD/DSD digital files to be publicly released in February 2022! And as new technologies are developed, and current equipment updated, we are of course excited to create, write and film more content to help share our passion for HiFi with you all.
Each member of the team has chosen a few personal highlights from the past year to share with you.
John Nelson (General Manager)
What an incredible year it has been both personally and for the business, from receiving the keys to our empty barn on the 1st of February to two weeks later the rather unexpected arrival of my new twins (6 weeks early), we still managed to have the shop fully ready in time for end of the lockdown when the government allowed us to open our doors.
With an array of well renowned HiFi brands already signed up, the showroom rapidly swelled with new and exciting products as the year progressed. We are fully kitted out for cinema demonstrations with TV and Projector systems, whilst retaining our core values of moderate to top end HiFi systems.
We are so pleased to be here serving the Lincolnshire area and excited to make new contacts with local business and new customers who simply want to hear great sound.
We know there are more steps to go for next year both on the website and in the shop but we are excited about the challenge and look forward to getting around to see more people, and hopefully if Covid-19 starts to abate we will be putting on some events of our own to show off some wonderful systems.
Stephen Nelson-Smith (Founder)
I think for me the highlight of the year has been the occasions when I've come to the shop, either to cover for John, or just for a flying visit. When I turn into the yard in front of the shop and see our smart premises with its jolly colourful roof and smart sign, it always gives me a smile. When I then step through the door and see the wonderful array of truly awesome products we've invested in, and sit down and enjoy a spectacular Home Cinema experience, or an incredibly live-like two channel system, I'm just blown away by how much we've achieved. We built this - my little brother, me and Helena, and our son Corin, Corin's partner Saskia - a true family endeavour - it's almost hard to believe. It fills me with pride that we've come so far, and that John and I have managed to realise one of our dreams - to work together again, in our very own shop, with our very own vision.
What's even more exciting is that the journey has only just begun - more and more people are learning about us, and as we become better known and even more established, the possibilities are amazing. I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to our suppliers and customers for making this year a very special year indeed.
Helena Nelson-Smith (Co-Founder & CFO)
There is so much to celebrate about our first year in Lincolnshire. It was very exciting last winter, seeing our beautiful premises emerge from a charming but derelict period farmyard. The excitement built as we steadily grew our product portfolio, accumulating a comprehensive range of options that both look and sound glorious. The website has grown in size, and also quality - there is a vast amount that needs to be built, refined and maintained behind the scenes, for a webshop to function and also be easy to find on the internet.
But the best thing of all to celebrate is the people. Along with Stephen I am thrilled to have been able to build a genuine family business. It's a delight and a privilege to be able to work alongside a team of people who are both brilliant at what they do, and also are among my closest and best-loved people. John already had 20 years' experience as a very successful HiFi and home cinema salesperson and consultant, and it was high time he got a shop of his own. Stephen's experience in HiFi and home automation, as well as entrepreneurship, has been invaluable. Corin and Saskia have done an incredible job with the website and digital marketing, as well as writing some of our most popular blog posts. Corin's record reviews have been a particular delight.
And we have been very lucky to be working with some wonderful people from outside the company, but whose support has been greatly appreciated. Adrian Green at Convivium Records has been a staunch ally. We loved working with Jamie W. Hall on his first solo recording. Eden Hammond from Naxos has also been a great help in providing a steady stream of the latest classical CD and Blu-ray releases to review. The HiFi industry is a small, friendly and supportive world, and we enjoy great relationships with our reps and suppliers, as well as with some other retailers, all of which have played an important part in our year.
And finally, and most importantly, our customers! Some old, some new, it has been our greatest pleasure to meet you for the first time, or have a long overdue catch up. So, to you, may I say a heartfelt thank you, and wish you the best for the coming year.
Corin Nelson-Smith (Web Manager)
Although mostly working behind the scenes (or behind the screens!) it has been a pleasure to help the business grow, and see it flourish in such unusual times. As my main focus is building and continually updating our website, my highlight of the year is simply looking back at how far we’ve come, and, if I may say so myself, how great the website is looking! From our blog posts, record reviews and video content, to our fantastic portfolio of products, this is a website I am proud to have my name on.
Saskia Egeland-Jensen (Marketing)
The majority of my work has been involved with building our online presence on social media, so for me the highlight of the year has been seeing more and more people interacting with and sharing Expressive Audio’s posts, and building Expressive Audio's name in the wider music community. Particular mention should go to Frances Wilson (aka the Cross Eyed Pianist!), and Robert Hugill, both of whom produce some fantastic content themselves, but have also been great virtual supporters of Expressive Audio! If you don’t already, do check us out on Twitter and like our Facebook page to see news from us, plus interesting HiFi and music articles!
All the best wishes for 2022 from the Expressive Audio team!