Happy First Anniversary - Hilton Audio Products of Texas, LLC
As I am typing this newsletter, it is only days after our one year anniversary, and what a year it has been! It started with a giant pile of boxes sent from California, some basic instruction from Dick and Vicky Henschel, and the desire to keep "Hilton Audio" the premier name in quality sound equipment for the dance activity.
To date, we have processed more than 500 orders, including over 100 MA-220's to customers around the world. The response to Hilton Audio at CALLERLAB and at the 64th National Square Dance Convention was amazing. We've still "got a long way to go and a short time to get there", but we're on the right track. Thank you for your support over the past year! Paul and Mary Ellen Cote
Hilton Vacation Shutdown - September 7-11, 2015
VACATION NOTICE - Hilton Audio Products will be CLOSED September 7-11, 2015 for vacation. No telephone calls or emails will be answered during that week as we will be traveling. We will answer any voice messages, process any orders, and return emails beginning Monday, September 14, 2015.
64th National Convention - Keynote Address - "The Duo!"
Once upon a time, there were two 20-Something punks that wanted to become square dance callers. That was 1988. Twenty six years later, those two guys have had a little luck. The first guy, is yours truly. The second, was his best friend, Ted Lizotte of Manchester, NH. (www.tedlizotte.com) Among other things, Ted is the club caller for the Tech Squares of M.I.T. in Cambridge, MA.
Why am I telling you about this? Well, Ted and I had the pleasure of presenting the Keynote Address at the 64th National Square Dance Convention in Springfield, MA this past June. We won't pretend for a minute to have all the answers, but we hope that we at least provoked some interesting thoughts during our presentation.
If you'd like to see the 64th Keynote in it's entirety (including the 10 minutes of glitches at the beginning) you can see it on YouTube using the following link: https://youtu.be/kGm6JEZfcBo
The Great Pot Debate - And The Winner is Green!
One of the main issues we were faced with when we took over Hilton Audio Products was a volume control potentiometer that was universally hated. It simply could not handle the normal wear and tear that a caller (typically) or cuer (occasionally) puts on it during a night of performing. Within a very short period of time, the volume fluctuated or became scratchy, and the potentiometer needed to be replaced.
We researched more than a dozen potential replacements, and tested several different options. We sent out a couple dozen cables to callers who work "full time", and after 6 months of testing without a single failure, we are now going to commit to this new volume potentiometer going forward. Every Hilton microphone cable produced since June has this new potentiometer already installed.
If you decide you want to convert on your own, the new volume pots are available in the online store. (The only modification you will have to do is drill out your rubber/plastic knob to 15/64th's of an inch, and then the new pot will fit perfectly.) We WILL continue to sell the old blue pots, at a reduced rate, for those of you who don't want to make the conversion. These pots come with NO warranty, and will be available only until our current supply runs out.)
The new "Green" volume pot is NOT going to last forever, however it appears to be much more durable than the old blue style. This is still, and will always be, a "consumable" part. There is NO mechanical potentiometer that will last forever.
Thank you for your patience as we took the necessary time to properly address this troubling issue.
New Varieties of FlexCoat Available For Your Microphone Cable
We still do not claim that it will do anything to protect your microphone cable. We don't say it makes it last longer. We don't say it will keep your pants cleaner. (Though these are the kinds of comments we are receiving.) All we can say for sure is that they look cool, and it'll be easier to keep your microphone cable from getting confused with the folks you are working with. Denim, Camouflage, "The Flame", Sherbert, and Reggae are now available. They're a little bit thicker than the other colors available, and after a brief introduction will cost a few more bucks, but, give them a try! ALSO, the neon Pink, Yellow, and Green all glow under blacklight. Fun!
Hilton Mono-Boosters and Platter Pads Back In Stock
We now have platter pads and Mono-Boosters back in stock. You can find them in the "New To The Online Store" section of the www.hiltonaudio.com website store.
Hilton "Officially" Cuts Ties with RSC In Europe
We've not yet given up on getting Hilton Audio Products back in to Europe some day. It appears, that if we can get it together, there may be a way to "self-certify" a large portion of the requirements needed for CE certification, and we are pursuing that option. If, and when, we do get back in to Europe, however, it will not be with RSC and Roland Federle. We are in discussions with another representative should we manage to get back in to Europe. Stay tuned!
RSC still has a website up that features Hilton Audio Products equipment, but it has been eight months or more since our last communication. We do not consider Roland an "authorized representative" for Hilton Audio Products of Texas. If you have purchased Hilton equipment from RSC, up to this date, it will still carry the same warranties as usual, however, going forward please be aware that we are no longer doing business.
All Parts And Services For Turn-Tables Now Handled By Dick Bull
Other than the basic foam pad or new style needle for your Hilton turn-table, all Hilton turn-table parts or services are being handled by Dick Bull. Dick is the former lead technician for Hilton, and he has the necessary knowledge and experience to support the old turn-tables. We simply do NOT. As of today, and going forward...if you need a part for a turn-table, contact Dick Bull. If Dick does not have it...it does not exist. I will not be maintaining any inventory of parts (new or used) for turn-tables here in Texas.
I apologize for the inconvenience, but while Stephen is a fantastic electrical engineer, neither he nor I have the experience with the mechanical aspect of the systems prior to the MA's. I'm also not able to invest in new stock that will sit on the shelves for years collecting dust.
***I need to stress this again. ALL Hilton Turn-Tables are now considered "End of Life" products. Dick Bull will coordinate with others who are still doing repairs, but this is all being done independently, and NOT as a function of Hilton Audio Products. If it is a part for a turn-table, and it is not available on the website...it is not available from Hilton Audio Products any more.***
(Dick Bull can be contacted via his website, www.hiltonrepair.com.)
A Hilton Amp Costs Too Much? "Let me 'splain it to you Lucy..."
I need 200 of a certain part to complete 100 more MA-220's. If I purchased 200 parts, my cost would be $46.49 each, or $9,298.00. If I bump the number of parts I purchase up to 500, I'll get a discount and they'll only cost me $20.99 each, or $10,495.00. The next price break was at 2500 pieces, and that was over $11,000.00. So, today, I have enough of these single parts to make MA-220's for the next 7-8 years on the shelf.
Even with this absurd amount of stock on my shelf (remember, this is ONE part of 1000 in a MA-220), I can't even come close to bringing my costs down to what the "big-box" stores can get them down to. At 10,000 pieces...I could get that same part that costs $46.49...for just a couple bucks each...but that's enough of that part to make amplifiers for the next 30 years.
I can assure you folks, there is nobody getting rich here at Hilton Audio. We are doing our everything we can to give you the best possible product for your needs as a caller or cuer, and we're doing that at the absolute most reasonable price we can...considering our costs. I know it ain't cheap...but that's exactly what it is...not cheap to make either.
Looking Ahead At Hilton Audio Products
After vacation the first week of September, we'll be back to work building up our inventory. We'll continue to test out possible new equipment. We also want to re-introduce more accessories for your dancers. We're looking into Hearing Assist Systems, Wireless Microphones, and Speaker Stands. We're also considering making a Hilton Speaker available again next year. We plan to attend CALLERLAB and the National Square Dance Convention in 2016.
A Small Bump In The FlexCoat Road
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. This is a learning process for us, and there are going to be some minor bumps in the road.
Take a look at the pictures up above. When I first started adding FlexCoats to microphone cables, I thought I would help make those coatings secure by putting the heatshrink tubing over the black plastic wire protector at the base of the mic handle. It made sense to me! Big, deep grooves that the heatshrink could sink in to, right?
Not so much. Over a couple months of use, that plastic piece starts to stretch the heatshrink and loosen the connection. If you let it go far enough, the FlexCoat will end up sliding out of the heatshrink all together...and that's not a good thing.
The good news is, that it's a real easy fix. If you've got a hair dryer, just shrink that black tubing back down, and it's as good as new for another couple months. (The two top pictures show my personal microphone cable before and after a 2 minute visit with my hair dryer.)
Alternatively, you can send your cable back to me, and I'll re-attach the FlexCoat properly (as you can see in the bottom picture). I'll ship it back on my dime within the continental US. On request, I'll cover your shipping UP TO a "Small Flat Rate Box" from the US Post Office. All FlexCoated cables that have been sold in the past several months are now secured as they are in the bottom picture and we've had no further reports of problems.
Have you heard about EGO Recordings?
I'm assuming not...because, well, I haven't sold very much music lately. EGO Recordings is a project of mine that I started about 5 years ago. I wanted to produce some high quality music that was a little different from everybody elses.
EGO has had some big hits. "Edge of Glory" by Lady Gaga was our first big seller. "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen is our biggest seller to date. Most recently, we've released "Story of My Life" by One Direction and "All of Me" by John Legend.
If you haven't had a chance to check it out yet, please take a listen at www.egorecordings.com
Best Of Luck With Your 2015/2016 Dance Programs!
We're heading in to "new class season" and hope you all have successful programs. It's no secret that "square dancing" is a hard sell in 2015, and that's a crying shame. Our hidden jewel of an activity could bring so much joy to people if we could just walk them through the door.
There are lot's of new ideas out there on how to revitalize our activity. In my personal opinion, the only wrong thing to do is "nothing". Do whatever you have to do to to sell what you do best, but above all, focus on that new dancer and make them know that it's all about them. Without them...we don't have much left.
Dance Up A Storm!
Paul and Mary Ellen Cote