Launched just ahead of the Christmas holidays, Art of Vinyl (AoV) is a new business created by the former-Metropolis Mastering engineer Crispin Murray, and audio/video equipment repair specialist Duncan Crimmins. The duo aim to continue the niche work of Sean Davies – maintaining high quality disc-cutting lathes and equipment – as the veteran consultant looks towards retirement.
"We set up Art of Vinyl to carry on a level of maintenance, dealing with problems and repairs," Murray told PSNEurope at the December launch event, which was attended by mastering engineers, associates and friends.
"Hopefully we will push things forward too: remember that innovation called 'quality'…?!"
Murray and Crimmins will engage the help of Audio Related Technology's technical staff Simon Griffett and Dimuthu Seneviratne when required, while Davies will remain an active partner in the initiative for the foreseeable future. AoV knowhow is available to anyone cutting vinyl, from dance music producers to audiophiles, said Murray. (He is pictured, left, with Sean Davies, centre, and Duncan Crimmins at the Art of Vinyl launch)
Will Art of Vinyl charge a call-out fee for its services, like a plumber might?
"It will be so much a day, and we will endeavour to fix things. It will cost money, but we will do what we can. We are driven by a passion. So in that sense, it’s not like a plumber. At the end of the day, you can always get another plumber. But you can’t get another guy to fix your lathe."
Murray said there are "more than 30 but less than a 100" lathes in the UK (though Davies was quoted elsewhere, a decade ago, as saying were "about 50"). While no one is building new machines any more, popular models still in operation include the Neumann VMS series, plus machines from Scully (USA) and Lyrec (Denmark). The AoV team may eventually look to extend their skills into Europe and beyond.
"We’ve already started making unobtainable parts for lathes - simple things like springs and nuts, bits that were made by Neumann but were incredibly over-engineered."
Does Murray think anyone will build a brand new disc-cutter any time soon?
"There are people who have discussed it, but if you scale up the tools required, [a machine] would cost three or four hundred thousand pounds."
Very little chance, then. As maintaining current machines becomes increasingly critical, it looks like Art of Vinyl's shiny new 2014 desk calendar will soon be crammed with appointments.
+ In January 2014 update to this story, the Music Producers Guild has announced that Sean Davies will be presented with a Special Recognition Award at the MPG Awards 2014, which take place in London on 13 February.