ROY HALL (SZYDLOW)

 

Roy Hall (Szydlow) was born in 1947 from a German-Jew father and an American mother near Glasgow in Scotland.

 

His father Henri escaped the Berlin of his youth in 1939. As a student he studied art but the Nazis cut his education short. After some failed attempts, he managed to leave Germany, legally, on an agricultural permit. Some German Jews had started a kibbutz in Scotland and he joined them with the notion of emigrating to Palestine after the war.

The farm was ten miles outside Glasgow.

In 1940 he joined the British Army and eventually, being a fluent German speaker, made his way into military intelligence. Before he left for Germany he was ordered to change his name from Szydlow (a Polish/Jewish name) to a British one, the theory being that, if captured, a British name would mean a POW camp, a Jewish name would mean a concentration camp. He would often listen to and admire a bandleader called Henry Hall who had a radio show that was popular during wartime. As he only had 24 hours to change his name and Hall was as good as any, he made that the family name.

 

Roy’s father met his wife In Glasgow, married her in 1940 and joined the British army. Roy was born form that union in 1947.

 

Interesting facts. As a kid, Roy grew up with Ivor Tiefenburn (Linn). Ivor just lived around the corner so, as kids do, they used to hang out. As they grew older, (as Roy had fun to say) they started to do all the stupid things teenagers do… get drunk, try to pick up girls…

Among their long list of adventures, in August of 1966, Ivor and Roy drove through Europe for a couple of weeks. They set out from Glasgow in Ivor’s Riley Kestrel - read the full adventure.

 

In 1975, aged 28, Roy moved to America following the lady who would become his wife.

They spent the first year in Binghamton, NY and after marrying, they moved to Israel for four years. Roy’s wife worked as an artist in Tel Aviv. She landed a job at AT magazine, a women’s publication owned by Maariv, Israel’s largest newspaper at the time. She had always wanted to study graphic art, so she applied for and subsequently was accepted into Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem and Parsons School of Design in New York. New York beat out Jerusalem, so in 1975 they moved there, ostensibly for 2-3 years. Somehow, they never left.

 

After tumultuous experiences working for Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Bamburgers and other major retail company in America, Roy phoned Ivor Tiefenburn who had asked him a few years back if he wanted to open a loudspeaker production company in the U.S. and asked him: ‘Do you still want to do something in America?’

 

The result was that Roy went back to Scotland for training, then opened a company in Manhattan called Isobarik Corporation which built Linn speakers under license. After four years the company was losing money because of a very strange thing: exchange rate loss. The pound kept dropping in value versus the dollar so we were having to drop our prices to keep parity with Scotland. There are financial strategies you can use to offset exchange rate losses but I didn’t know them 30 years ago—and neither did Ivor—so we kept losing money.

 

Roy and Ivor tried a last-ditch effort to stay afloat by importing a line of turntables called Revolver but after a while realized it couldn’t keep the manufacturing operation going they agreed to close the company.

 

Roy created Music Hall and continued on as the US distributor for Revolver turntables, which was an insane move, because it was 1985 and everyone was chucking out their turntables and buying CD players. But as Roy said: “ignorance can be a great asset, so I didn’t know how ridiculous the idea was, and just went ahead and did it. Then I managed to pick up Creek Audio and then Epos and all of a sudden, I had a business. And to my great surprise, I’m still in business 30 years later, still making money, and still making a profit… and still completely perplexed by it all.”

 

 

No bullshit, no nonsense extravaganza HiFi – Really defines Roy Hall’s philosophy and approach to hifi and the resulting products.

 

“It’s true that some people don’t take me seriously because my prices are too cheap. But it all depends on what I want to do as a company. I don’t know if it’s a moral obligation, but I do feel that it’s incumbent on me to make sure my products are value for money. So as long as I make a margin, I don’t need to price gouge… unless it’s with anti-skating weights. I also like that my pricing means I kind of f*ck with the competition.”

 

 

PROOF IS IN THE PUDDING.

 

Roy Hall sound system at home

• Latest Creek amplifier, the 100A, driving a pair of Epos K3s… plus

• Epos 3 loudspeakers

• One or two turntables including an LP12 which he uses as his reference.

 

 “so, when I listen to one of my new turntables I always compare it to the Linn. I don’t think I’ve yet made one that sounds as good but my wife thinks my 9.1 sounds better. I can’t agree with her… to me the sound of the LP12 still has something magical about it.”

MUSIC HALL CANADA