SO this is Phonostage Audio, probably the most helpful and personable HiFi dealer you have never heard of!!! So who are we? And where did we come from? And how did we go from just selling records to becoming one of Lancashire’s newest HiFi dealers?
Phonostage Audio is a trading name of Phonostage Records Ltd. This is a small family business, based in Lancashire and it is fair to say that we are obsessed with music!! Anyone who is into records may well have come across Phonostage Records before, either to buy records or even to sell them! We have been sending orphaned vinyl records to caring owners all around the world since 2014 and we have sold over 10000 records since we got started! I know you are probably dying to ask… ‘What was the most expensive record you ever sold?’, Well I think it was a copy of The Rolling Stones ‘Special Coupling Digest’, which was a Japanese release, a Rolling Stones record produced in small quantities to promote the ill-fated Japanese tour of 1973. The tour was cancelled, apparently because of Mick Jagger’s ‘proclivities’ at that time and so the record was never needed. I think this copy fetched about £1500!
But we are not elitist here…. we also sell records for £1.99 and we treat them with the same care and respect! We love records here! Phonostage is an equal opportunities record seller! Whether it is a £4.99 Abba LP or a £1500 Davy Jones demo; they all get cleaned before sending, they are all audio graded and they all get sent out in the same posh ‘Music Max’ boxes.
But here’s the thing… we don’t just sell records, we also sell stuff to play them on… lovely stuff! Phonostage Records has recently branched out into Phonostage Audio and we sell a fine range of gorgeous HiFi equipment from our brand new website and from our small premises in the heart of Lancashire. The HiFi equipment we sell is borne out of a personal passion and years of music obsession. My name is Tony Hesketh and I am the Director/Owner of Phonostage Ltd. I started all this off as a sideline business while I was still doing my regular 9-5 for ‘The man’, in the hope that one day I could live out my dream of developing a business dedicated to music and helping people to hear the music they have been trying to find, wherever they are. We have even sent records out to Polynesia! I really imagined a funky place with plenty of reclaimed wood and fresh coffee! With a huge collection of ‘Uncut’ magazines and a comfy sofa! Well after many years of late nights at the kitchen table these dreams have made it to fruition. Phonostage Records and Phonostage Audio is a full time job, more in fact, and not only have I been able to leave my former employment to run the business, but now my wife has as well! Now we both work very hard to prove that an independent business, built from nothing, can work – even with the hurdles thrown in to the game by the Covid epidemic. Our demo rooms are that funky place of dreams! It is unfortunate that we can’t just throw the doors open at the time of writing – however we can (government permitting) do demonstrations by appointment and will be continuing to update our position on this is things change, so follow us on Facebook or check our Google Business listing for regular updates.
The products that we sell are a bit special, we are not just ‘box shifters’ here… there are no robots working at Phonostage Audio, not even one of those little things that goes round and cleans the carpet! I have given much thought to the things that mean something to me, and this has shaped how we have developed the range of things we sell. Many of the companies that I have chosen to deal with are the manufacturers of products that have moved me in some way in the past. The first Rega turntable I had as a younger man that I used to play ‘Dire Straits’ on.. Somehow in my memory Telegraph Road has not sounded better since! And Graham Slee products, hand made in a small workshop in Yorkshire with great care and with some of the best thought out electronic design I have heard! I have had a Graham Slee phono-stage for years and it is not something I ever wish to change – except for a better Graham Slee model! And their DACs…!! well… it’s nearly enough to put me off records they are so nice! So as a natural progression I just phoned them up one day and probably said something like ‘Can I sell your lovely things?’
Then there are the utterly beautiful, hand made, perfectly veneered Stirling Broadcast loudspeakers. Steeped in BBC heritage and brought up to the modern day, these are the most gorgeous and audibly satisfying speakers I have heard. I phoned Stirling Broadcast to ask if I could sell their range of speakers because they meant something personal to me. Some of the most satisfying times I had back in the 90’s was listening to Stereolab or Gong or Keef Hartley (if you haven’t listened to Keef Hartley you should! He was a proud Lancastrian who played at Woodstock!) …on a pair of old Spendor BC1’s or any of a number of similar Spendor or Rogers speakers that I probably paid about fifty quid for (you should see the price now!!). The old Spendors were a reminder of a proud BBC engineering heritage and the speakers made by Stirling Broadcast have a direct lineage back to them.
Also we sell Klipsch speakers, and these are a different ball-game altogether! These too have superb heritage and I remember the occasional pair of mighty Klipsch-Horns coming up for sale or appearing in magazines many years ago and they looked mightily impressive, I always wanted to hear a pair but could never afford it… So when the chance came up to sell these myself I thought ‘Yes! I can finally hear a pair! Well the Klipsch look gorgeous, with spectacular copper drivers and sharp looks. These speakers are Rock’n’Roll! They are Star Wars in full Dolby, they are Billie Eilish sounding better than you ever though she could, they are superb if you want to rock (and we do!) and they sound amazing in a surround set-up. Their ample dynamism really lends itself to movie soundtracks – especially when partnered with a a superb Klipsch subwoofer (or two!!)
These are just some examples of the great stuff we get to listen to and sell to our happy customers – there is also Pro-Ject, and Dali (yes – there’s a story behind that one too), and more! Our customers get something from us that means something to them and they like to tell us how they are getting on with their new found sound quality! Customers have repeatedly come back to us for more records, or more speakers!
A big part of our service is to help people decide what it right for them. There may be times in your life… now or whenever, when you either move to somewhere smaller, or move to somewhere bigger! You might have a musical or a cinematic epiphany one day – by hearing or watching something you like on a different set-up and suddenly hearing all the crystal clear layers of music, mixing, instruments and layered voices that you never heard before (try Radiohead ‘OK Computer’ to hear this phenomenon) – even though you might have listened to those tracks dozens of times! Or you hear the sheer dynamics and feel the thundering bass in a film that reminds you so much of the cinema you are shocked – and you didn’t realise just how easy it is to do that at home!! It is that epiphany, combined with a desire to get something that looks good in their own space, that draws people to a new system.
We sell all sorts here – from compact and high quality ‘all in one’ HiFi solutions that have amazing sound quality and can connect to just about anything… including your phone or computer, to full-size speaker systems for cinematic experiences and high-end turntables, amplifiers and DACs (if you would like to know what a DAC is just call us!). It would be great if we could help you to choose or decide what kind of system is right for you, your environment and your musical needs – oh yes.. and your budget!
Of course I should have said! There is more than just us here… we have a fantastic online community, over two thousand followers on Facebook and a steadily growing insta crowd! You are more than welcome to join us there.. Follow us and see what we are up to… We are always up to something!
Follow us on Facebook and Instagram @phonostagerecords for SO much cool stuff your ears will do a happy dance.