We often hear about those audio engineers and technicians who have spent their life on the road and been involved in touring and live audio since they were in a band aged 11 years old. Eating, breathing and sleeping rock’n’roll. So far, so Stones/Metallica/insert aging rock band as appropriate.
What you don’t hear so much about, and is equally (if not more) laudable, are those rare individuals who have jumped straight into working with installed sound. All those glamorous music venues & night clubs, but equally the sports stadiums, schools, and halls that need sound reinforcement solutions.
And so may we shine our NST Spotlight on just one of those people – Edgar Lien, of Avon Audio, Norway…
It’s taken some months to find the time for Eddie to fill in the blanks in his history (there was only so much to be gleaned from stalking on social media!) and we are delighted to find out there is such a great story to be told. With a drink by his side and an evening free in a hotel (in his words “I’m working away from home tonight so no family to disturb the writing and some wine to help!”) let’s find out more…
NST: Evening Eddie! At last we get to chat properly, and not just about the latest cool phase measurement tools you’ve found [This was v . cool as he showed us excitedly on a video call recently]. How are you doing?
EL: Good thanks – and yeah – I can finally give you some back story!
NST: Having worked with you for many years, either as a supplier of gear or just catching up at trade fairs, we know you’ve been doing this for a long time, but we gather that you’ve been involved in the installation industry since school…not many people can say that!
EL: Yeah it’s true! Sounds a bit crazy, but I literally got into audio when I was about 13 – made my first sub (and stuck a JBL logo on it!). That led onto studying electronics and electroacoustics at school and I was so keen to get a job working with this equipment I finally twisted the arm of a local MI store (Tre45 in Trondheim – now 4Sound) to hire me as a trainee.
NST: How did you manage that?
EL: Well, the thing that convinced the CEO of the store, Kristin Falck and her husband and founder Geir Falck, to give me a chance was the fact that I’d basically done all the paperwork and ground work to get the local “Commune Education Centre” approved as someone we could supply with equipment, and as I had taken the lead with this, they had little choice!
NST: That was a pretty bold move, but it worked! How long did that job last, and did you learn much starting out?
EL: It was great – I was there for seven years and had a brilliant mentor, Sindre Eikli, who taught me some massively important fundamentals such as “Headroom is King” – he always installed power amps that the customer might have thought were more powerful than was necessary, demonstrating to them that it was always better to have power in reserve than to over stress an underpowered system. Once the system was up and running, everyone saw the benefit of his wisdom, including me.
NST: Well, we can’t fault that – nothing worse than a system running out of headroom – ringing ears and blown HF drivers and unhappy customers! So after seven years you decided on a change?
EL: Well, I thought I had – I thought studio installations were my future. As I discovered, new studios can’t always afford the systems they install unless they have a full diary of bookings and after a bad experience with this, I decided that installations in more commercially stable markets were the way to go!
NST: Well, sometimes these things happen for a reason – it at least cleared a path for you.
EL: Exactly. I had done some installs before – mainly cafes, restaurants and small club venues. I was working alone, and thought I was “King of the Hill”! It was then that I met Tor Breivik, who also thought he was too!
NST: So, big fish in small ponds! So did this lead to you two working together?
EL: Well, he’s now CEO of Avon and I am Sales Manager and Tor Johansen is our Tech Support master so I think you could say that!
NST: This is a long standing relationship then – as Avon audio.
EL: Things are going very well for us, yeah. I remember one of the first installs I did, speccing “Brown” speakers (I hope we all know who I mean!). They were chosen at the time from the datasheet (a mistake I corrected afterwards) as the “propaganda” sold them on their controlled dispersion for use in difficult shaped spaces. We later swapped them out for Vue al-8 boxes that outperformed them by several magnitudes!
NST: It’s always great to be able to offer something better and it be very tangible to the customer. So how does Avon’s client portfolio look these days?
EL: It was our 15th birthday as Avon this year and along the way, we’ve worked with many of Norway’s best and most respected venues as Rockefeller, Dokkhuset, Herr Nilsen, Det Norske Teatret installing premium audio systems. Also clubs like The Villa, Dirty Floor, Klubb Kok, SUPA (closed, NO!!!!!). I’m not just a sales guy – I get my hands dirty and have performed monitor and FOH duties for hundreds of events and TV shows over those years.
I am really humble for what the past has given me, the inspiring people I have met, and where cosmos wants me to go in the future. I love my crew and a shout out to Joacim Engelstad and Fredrik Wensås – without those two guys we wouldn’t be Avon. I love my job and family.
NST: We should probably finish up soon or there’ll be a second bottle of wine opened and this could turn into your Oscars acceptance speech 😉 We know, from working with you Eddie, that you are committed to always doing an amazing job, going above and beyond what’s expected, and that the guys who work with you at Avon are equally passionate and enthusiastic.
EL: Thanks guys – it’s been really cool to tell you about how I got to where I am – hope everyone finds it interesting and inspiring to give this industry a try themselves!