We’re getting a few emails from clients with faulty gear who seem to think they can pop in and we’ll fix the problems while they wait, a bit like a dentist I suppose. If only this were true…
The reality is that the boffins bust a gut to turn repairs round within three weeks, although sadly it sometimes takes longer. Why?
To start with, of course, as the UK’s main service agents for professional analogue audio, demand is never ending. We service and repair gear for most major artists, producers and many commercial studios in the UK – few have in house techs these days as in years gone by. In particular Dave Way is acknowledged as the leading mic technician in the UK and one of the best in Europe.
The repair process takes time. To start with, the boffins have to diagnose the fault(s) – in itself far from straightforward particularly where the fault is intermittent. Parts are almost always required and although we carry far and away the largest inventory of specialist parts in Europe including impossible to find vintage bits (we have over fifty new/old stock Neumann and other mic capsules in stock for instance) we’re often reliant upon manufacturer’s service departments for components and sadly live in an age where far too many suppliers have relegated after sales and support to an afterthought. We’re then reduced to scouring the world looking for essential parts that may eventually cost pennies but which can take weeks to find and often have to be flown in from abroad. This eats up huge amounts of time (which we don’t and can’t charge for)
Once fixed, gear has to be soak-tested – powered up for days to ensure the fault doesn’t reoccur. Sometimes a failed component is the result of an entirely different fault elsewhere in the unit which doesn’t show up until the obvious problem has been fixed.
We’re as keen as the customers to clear the repair from the workbench – typically we have five or six thousand pounds worth of parts and labour tied up in repairs awaiting completion or collection.
Generally clients are patient but occasionally we get irritated phone calls from those needing their equipment urgently. Although understandable – and we always try to be diplomatic – those phone calls mirror days or even weeks of calls and emails we’ve sent to manufacturers or distributors trying to get hold of meters, switches, transformers and similar parts without getting a response. I’d love to name and shame some of the better known manufacturers who operate a policy of ‘take the money and run’ but it would be undiplomatic. Suffice it say, the techs at Boffin Island bust every gut they’ve got to repair your gear as quickly and efficiently as possible
One last point…we get regular emails from people or techs trying to diagnose or fix their own (or customers) gear. We’re always helpful and within the community of professional techs do our best to impart knowledge and help with spares. However, sadly we’re not a public resource for eBay buyers or DIYers needing advice, schematics and scarce parts. Not merely do we not have the time, but it has taken 20 years to assemble what is probably the largest library of analogue audio schematics and manuals in Europe if not the world. Although we’re happy for clients to come and search for what they need and then photocopy the schematics they want, the time, cost and crucially, dislocation from more pressing work involved means doing constant favours isn’t viable. We’d love to – honestly – but I’m afraid it just isn’t possible.