In 1998, I got a phone call from someone asking me if I had any
loudspeakers that were capable of producing 145dB? I said yes, the
Community M4. He asked me to make an estimate and call him back. I
called him back and this time I remembered to ask him what he was
using it for. He said he was a research assistant at the University
of California at San Francisco (UCSF) and they were trying to create
lesions in monkeys ears. He said they would strap a monkey in a
chair between 2 speakers.
I immediately informed him, that I was not interested in helping him
in any way further. I contacted Christine Howze, vice
president at Community Loudspeakers. I told her about it and she
gave me complete backing in my decision. She also told me that
legally, she could not refuse to sell to any dealer based upon
usage. She did write to the university president and told him
Community did not want their loudspeakers used in this manner.
I also called "In Defense Of Animals" and PETA. Both organizations
were quite helpful and immediately organized demonstrations at the
campus and in the media. I had all the local tv stations show up on
my front porch that afternoon (which scared the sh*t out of me).
A couple of weeks later, I was at Audio Images in SF picking up some
gear and I noticed some large Community cartons on their loading
dock. I put 2 + 2 together and never bought from them again. I also
protested to the owner that what they were doing wasn't right.
I looked up what kind of business I had done with Audio Images. It
was $42,000 plus. Their sale to UCSF was well under $10,000. Shortly
afterwards, just out of the blue, I became a dealer for Crown
which I had been getting through Audio Images.
I think the PETA & IDA campaigns were successful in
shutting down UCSF experiments. A couple of weeks later, a
lady from PETA called and relayed a message from Sir Paul McCartney
"he's a right-on dude".
One day a rep named Rocky brought me a new gooseneck microphone from
a new company called Earthworks he was representing. He said it was
the best podium microphone out there. He left it with me and I
tried it out at a few churches and loved it. I told Rocky I didn't
want to take advantage of his generosity by keeping the microphone
for so long, so I told him I'd buy it. He sent an invoice, I sent a
check, done. Done like dozens of times with dozens of reps and
dozens of products. That's how new gear gets accepted. A rep will
come by and say have at it. It's real common. Sometimes you hand the
product back in pieces and say sorry this doesn't work. It's also
how a contractor builds up their demo stock. The rep hauls around a
new product, it gets sold off and the rep orders another one.
Someone like myself demo's the product and gets an opening order for
the new company. If the Community rep back in 1989 didn't drop off a
pair of speakers and say try and destroy them, I never would have
sold Community's (and yes I bought them, sold them and now they are
in a museum). It's the same with amplifiers. You can't just take
someone's word for it, "Ya, it's a great amp" you have to hook it up
and drive the snot out it.
A microphone is slightly different. You plug it in and go "Test One-
Two" and you're done. It either works or it doesn't and sounds good
or not. No big deal. So, I have become an Earthworks dealer and I
have my Earthworks microphone that I demo for churches. I have one
church that calls me up and says their new Earthworks mic makes
noise. I go down there and the mic is fine, no noise. They call
again a few weeks later and say the mic makes noise. I tell them to
send it back to Earthworks, it has a 15 year warranty. It turns out
they made a diode change. A few years later I'm demo'ing my
Earthworks mic at another church and I hear a small hum. I unplug
the mic and the hum goes away. Next day I contact Earthworks and ask
for an Return Authorization. They say it will cost $293.00! I say
what? It has a 15 year warranty. Earthworks says we don't use reps
anymore and since I had bought it through the rep "This is quite a
different status from being a new unit with attendant warranty
Now, I had already known Earthworks had dropped their reps. Rocky
The Rep had told me about how he been brought into a design project
for Apple where they were insisting on ceiling microphones. He had
told them the only way it would work is if Earthworks would
specifically design the microphone for them. Everyone said ok and
while the project goes forward, Earthworks drops all reps.
Earthworks designs a ceiling microphone and Apple buys a whole bunch
of them. Earthworks adds ceiling microphones to it's product
line. Rocky doesn't get any credit for it, doesn't get any
commission on the Apple sale and they didn't even call the
microphone "R1" or something like that which many companies do.
So here we have a company that doesn't stand by their reps and now
doesn't stand by their dealer. Do you want to guess how many
Earthworks microphones I'm going to sell in the future?