Howard Popeck get interviewed by Neil McCauley. Part 2 of 3

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Music. What about that?

I love the music of J S Bach and that of The Who – and much else besides.

Equipment?

I think vintage Meridian equipment cannot be over praised and that their modern stuff is technically brilliant but musically soulless for me. It's just an opinion. I guess I'm as likely to be wrong on this as I am to be right.

What about other makers?

I deeply admire the sounds produced by Naim, Spendor, Avalon, Musical Fidelity, Jadis, Nagra, Martin Logan, Magneplanar and Accuphase – but I don't stock any of them.

So how do you choose brands?

I won't demonstrate anything I can't personally listen to after the customer’s home demo has been completed. I won't take any pressure from any maker or distributor. If they don't like me putting the buyer first – and some didn't – I tell them take a walk. A long one. They get the point.

Simple as that then?

Well, not entirely. I don't demonstrate every item from a supplier if there's an item from their range that doesn't engage with me and vice-versa.

Is the customer always right?

I don't believe the customer is always right, in the same way that I know I can't always be right myself. I know from experience most makers are only right some of time. Seems reasonable don't you think?

Err, yes.

Look, I can see it in your eyes. You’re sceptical. Do you want to know the way I see it?

Yup.

Is it right to let a buyer spend more money that is necessary to meet their expectations?

No of course not

Fine. Good. Supposing Mr. A clearly defines the shortcomings of his system, and I've heard them too. Okay so far? He’s read about the fantastic LFD NCSE Mk2 amp and he wants one. However in his room, with his music, at the preferred listening levels it is clear to both of us that the more modest but similarly wonderful Zero LE Mk4 does the job just as well – by which I mean it delivers precisely what he wanted – and then some.

If I adhere to the ethos that the customer is always right then naturally I take his order for the NCSE II and trouser an additional £2k of his hard-earned merely to comply. Where’s my integrity then?

Surely, surely if I am to do my best on his behalf I'll demonstrate how he can save all that money. Right?

Well, put like that then yes.

Good. Can we move on?

Continued tomorrow

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