Pin drops

I’ve told this story a hundred times and I will tell it a hundred more as I believe it marks the very moment a spark ignited in me a passion for audio.

It was a music class in my junior school. Some lessons we’d spend time practising an instrument. Mine was the recorder and I was proud that I could play Greensleeves without looking at my fingers.

There were theory and singing lessons too. The teacher, who’s name has faded like my last strangled A of Greensleeves, would record School’s Programmes from the BBC and play them for us to sing along to.

We did a whole production of Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat without ever getting up from our desks.

I remember this one occasion though when things went a little off piste. At the start of the lesson the teacher wheeled in a brand new reel to reel tape recorder. “This,” she announced, “is a state of the art tape machine.”

We marvelled at its shininess. “This,” she continued, “has a microphone so sensitive that it could record the sound of a pin drop.”

So that’s exactly how we spent that entire lesson. Trying to record the sound of a pin drop on various surfaces until we chanced upon the lid of the the classroom piano.

And right there, right at that moment, the flash of the school room light on a tiny pin and the delicate ‘ping’ was enough to detonate the audiophile within me.

I didn’t have a great time at school, certainly not the best years of my life, but whenever I think that way, I take myself back to that defining moment which was to eventually lead me here.

I also recall that the trolly the tape machine was on had a squeaky wheel. But then I think that everything that moved in my junior school squeaked.

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