ROADTRIP: My day with Vestax UK

Vestax PDX a1s PMC 06 special burgundy Vestax UK

If it wasn’t already clear, we’re big Vestax fans around here. It doesn’t get them a free pass of course — we’re quite happy to call them out when we feel that their newest shiny doesn’t quite cut it. But there is something quintessentially cool about them. So a couple of days ago, I popped across the Pennines (before the snow) to pay their UK office a long overdue visit, to check out the operation, as well as marvel at the gems that their warehouse holds.

To explain — Vestax is based in Japan, manufacture gear in various parts the Far East,  and sell all over the world. Selling to individual retailers globally from Japan would be a practical impossibility, so they either work through a local branch, or via a distributor. Vestax UK is that local branch, and holds a solid amount of stock to serve the needs of UK retailers. But recently, they’ve embraced modern shopping methods and set up their webshop, designed to sell directly to the end user, but primarily to supplement the service department and enable a whole menu of spares to be supplied, as well as supporting the regular retail chain.

Like so many DJ manufacturer outposts, Vestax UK is small, but perfectly formed. A handful of desks and computers are separated by working DJ gear. And while I wouldn’t want to hold a party in this space, but it’s ideal for working with the UK retail chain and servicing the needs of people like myself who want to repair their classic gear. The office hub works well, but the magic happens in the warehouse.

Falling into the DJ equivalent of Aladdin’s Cave (known internally as “the back”), you’re drawn into a mixture of workshop and stockroom. The workshop belongs to Over Audio — pro sound and light contractors and Vestax’s official repair people. Beyond the piles of circuit boards, racks of lighting paraphernalia, and every kind of audio device you can imagine, you’ll find the Vestax stash — a veritable stack of new gear, but more interestingly for me random boxes of classic gear too.

vestax classic turntables
Classic turntables from Vestax UK archive

Rummaging through these boxes and flight cases, it finally hit me why I love Vestax — their gear has a timeless style and class that very few others have. For example, we opened up a box with a pristine Gold (not literally) PMC-37 mixer. In my head, angels started singing when faced with the shiny beauty of this creation. Not that I’ve ever wanted a 37, but at this moment I wanted it more than I’ve wanted any non-2 channel mixer. And you just don’t get that with other manufacturers.

Vestax PMC-06 special burgundy
A unique Burgundy PMC-06 mixer

This was followed by a string of stunning classic units, including an ultra-rare Funkmaster Flex edition 005 (now mine), some older PDX D3 MKIIs (hopefully with my deposit on them) and all manner of things I never even knew they made. It was when opening the flightcase to reveal the matching Burgundy PDX A1s and PMC 06 Samurai that you understood the magic. Such a shame that they’re locked up in a warehouse and not out on display.

Rare Funkmaster Flex Vestax PMC05FX mixer
An unexpected reward for braving the never-ending British winter — a very rare mint condition Funkmaster Flex PMC05FX mixer.

Vestax has always dared to be different. The path of blandness is not for them, and they’d rather be seen challenging convention than churning out endless me-toos, something that I hope continues for… well ever. While the rest of the industry knocks out a steady stream of really good but largely transient gear, Vestax’s stuff remains desirable long past its sell-by date.

And this desirability makes them eminently suitable for restoration as well. While we get our heads turned by the latest shiny, sometimes a lump of classic gear hits the spot much better. So for those with a Vestax unit gathering dust because of a broken bit, Vestax UK more than likely has one somewhere. And if they don’t they’ll try to track one down for you in Japan.

Vestax PBS-4 video controller Vestax UK
The all new PBS-4 ready to ship to retailers

To see the inner workings of Vestax UK was long overdue, but to also learn how they interact with their retail chain was an education as well. I’m struck by the no nonsense approach, and only wanting to work with retailers who are interested in partnerships rather than one way deals. It was also very cool to see the buzz generated by the webshop. Sometimes, it might only be a fader or controller overlay, but watching individual orders come in and interacting directly with the end user seems to have brought a new and exciting dimension to Vestax UK. I’m guessing that if it’s successful for the UK, then it might be rolled out around the world.

Vestax UK spare parts webshop
Vestax UK have spares for just about everything.

I want to thank Mike, Takao, Christian, Sam and Over Audio for their hospitality. I’ve now got a hunger to go and check out other operations too. For spare parts, service or to buy direct, check out the Vestax Webshop today. Alternatively, Vestax goods are available through selected retail shops and online.