We Ask 10 Questions For High-End
During Enjoy the Music.com's very special 25th Anniversary we're asking various high-end audio manufacturers to answer the same ten questions. Their answers may surprise you! This month we're featuring Les Thompson, Managing Director of Sound Damped Steel and Soundeck. Sound Damped Steel is a multi-award winning noise control company launched by Les Thompson in 2003 to develop, manufacture and supply highly damped materials for industrial noise and vibration control applications. They produces products for Soundeck within the UK.
Place the Soundeck PM on your turntable, now play your favourite record and be amazed. The Sound Damped Steel converts vibrational energy into negligible amounts of heat which lets your needle process the information in the grooves without interference from feedback and rumble.
Soundeck DF Damping Feet are 3mm Sound Damped Steel plates which are available as 75mm rectangles or 75mm disks. These little gems isolate speakers and components from vibration and feedback. They prevent speakers from driving the floorboards, enable amps and players to work in a more stable environment. Components are isolated from driving shelves or receiving energy from them.
Q. What is your first memory of falling in love with music?
A. When I was 16 I bought Sgt Pepper, stereo separation fascinated me on my parents Bush Stereogram. I bought some cheap bookshelf speakers, soldered the leads onto the back of the stereogram and put them as far apart as wires would allow….. I was 16!
Q. How did you first get introduced to high-fidelity audio gear?
A. I visited a friend who worked in a hi-fi shop.... Saw all the gear, listened and loved it, Laser disks had just been introduced.
Q. What is your favorite piece of vintage hi-fi, and why?
A. Sinclair hi-fi kits, I enjoyed soldering them up then adding more powerful amplifier circuits etc. A great learning experience.
Q. When did you decide to start a high-end audio company?
A. Sound Damped Steel make noise and vibration absorbing steel and aluminum sheets for manufacturers to produce quieter machines and reduce noise in industrial areas. I introduced it to UK hi-fi manufacturers, one customer was a turntable manufacturer. I thought their turntable could be improved by using an SDS laminated aluminum so made a 2.5mm Platter Mat as a sample. They declined so in 2005 I sent the prototype to David Price at HiFi World. He loved it and persuaded me to market is as the SDS PlatterMat.
Q. What, and when, was your company's first product?
A. In 2005 the SDS PlatterMat was introduced.
Q. What challenges did you face during those early years?
A. Being a small specialist company with limited funding meant large scale advertising was out of the budget. Also the public had no awareness of the new product. We now have a UK & USA eBay shop, the Soundeck website and distributors in Thailand & Mexico.
Q. How have your products evolved over the years?
A. The first PlatterMats were 295mm diameter and pretty rough as we were mainly an industrial noise control company. Machining improved, finish improved, a 292mm for Linn and 285mm for Technics were introduced. In 2015 we launched Soundeck as the brand for SDS hi-fi products. Rick Becker of Enjoy the Music.com gave a superb review of the Isoplatmat. He also persuaded me to produce vibration absorbing isolation pads for components and speakers to rest on. These have become our best sellers as they apply to all hi-fi not just vinyl. They are available in 75mm rectangles and 80mm disks. A turntable puck with an SDS constrained layer incorporated has recently been launched, it receives excellent reviews and feed back.
Q. What is your company's most popular product(s)?
A. First the DF Damping Feet as they apply to all hifi enthusiasts the PM PlatterMat is second but highly acclaimed by vinyl enthusiasts.
Q. What is your next planned product offering and its' features?
A. We are about to launch a version of the PlatterMat with a soft touch rubber coating which will provide a nice interface with the record.
Q. What advancements do you speculate high-end audio will offer ten years from now?
A. Possibly everything wireless which cable manufactures won't like! Maybe Lasers reading the vinyl surface so no wear on records.