Riding high on the vinyl revival, Sound Leisure has been making jukeboxes in Yorkshire since 1978. Specialising in hand built and bespoke designed models, the family-owned business’s investment in a Mimaki UCJV300-107 printer/cutter has transformed its creative process when producing unique jukebox designs for its clients.
With a global customer base that ranges from private customers realising their dream of owning a classic jukebox, to corporate clients installing an entirely bespoke company centrepiece that accurately reflects and represents their brand, Sound Leisure’s Classic Jukeboxes division manufactures almost every element of the final product in-house.
“A large part of the process of delivering a totally unique, custom jukebox for a corporate client involves accurately colour matching all the elements of the unit,” outlines Sound Leisure director, Mike Black. “Where we’re using powder coated metal, painted wood, different veneers, fabrics, clear and white vinyl and other materials in the process, the Mimaki’s ability to print to 85-90% of the substrates has allowed us to bring colour matching completely in-house.”
Whilst the company still utilises screen-printing for certain aspects of its production, Black recognises the advances that digital print has brought. “For customers that don’t require a completely bespoke solution but still wish to add an element of personalisation to our standard models, we’re now in a position where we can design, print and cut a huge range of custom elements for our clients. Because we have the facility in-house, these can be produced and integrated into the jukebox build without disruption to the production process.” Exploiting the Mimaki’s print and cut capabilities, the company now produces both standard and bespoke sticker sets, name badges, name plates and other decorative elements on the printer/cutter – saving the company time, allowing an easier route to improve and update designs, and minimising inventory.
The Mimaki UCJV300 Series is a highly creative solution capable of printing onto a wide range of materials with its LED UV cured inks, making it a popular choice for graphics producers, signmakers and printshops. Sound Leisure’s 107cm wide model sits within a production environment and the company makes great use of its creative potential with features such as multi-layer printing paying dividends when employed for its backlit work. “Even though we purposefully don’t run the printer 24/7, it’s there as a resource for our designers to push their boundaries,” states Black. “Having that capability in-house simply confirms our obsession with delivering an extremely high quality product, because we can continually revise and improve the components we are producing in a closed loop manner, which simply would not be possible if we were working with external suppliers.”
Sound Leisure develops every aspect of its products internally, from its player mechanisms, circuit boards, software and amplifiers, right down to the structural cabinets and components of the jukebox. “This ensures we have visibility of every element of the process for our quality control,” Black confirms. “And with full, bespoke products costing upwards of £10,000, quality is central to our brand. When people ask us how long we expect one of our jukeboxes to last, we say we don’t know – we’ve only been making them for 40 years!”
Sound Leisure made its investment through authorised Mimaki partner, Granthams Limited and worked with them for a number of years before committing to the UCJV300-107. “The purchase had to make financial sense and naturally, we carefully consider every investment the business makes,” recalls Black. “It took about 7 years of evaluating digital printing technology before deciding that the latest Mimaki went from being a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘we really need it’ and we worked closely with Granthams to assess its capabilities. Their technical knowledge and advice has proved invaluable.”
“During the years of working alongside Sound Leisure, we have provided an in-depth overview of all the technologies in the market to try and identify the best fit for their brand,” says Granthams General Manager, Kirsty Reader. “While other wide format print technologies ticked a number of boxes, they were still missing that ‘niche’ that would allow the product to stand out from the crowd. The introduction of the Mimaki UCJV with both an opaque white and a clear varnish ink finally provided that ‘added value’ to Sound Leisure’s premium jukeboxes.”
Using its successful Sergeant Pepper themed jukebox design created in 2017 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the legendary album, Sound Leisure rigorously tested colour density, image quality and a wide range of substrates with Granthams’ technical team. “We need to print onto so many different materials, including speaker cloth and even leatherette, so the flexibility of the Mimaki means it’s doing the work of three printers,” Black states.
In 2019, Sound Leisure launched a stunning branded jukebox designed in collaboration with legendary amplifier manufacturer Marshall, which uses their iconic materials and branding to fabricate a unique product. It’s this capability that attracts such a diverse range of customers to the Yorkshire manufacturer. “Jukeboxes are luxury items and we’re proud to invite people to the factory to see theirs being hand-built by our team of craftspeople,” confirms Black. “Exclusive models such as the Beatles product sold almost entirely to Beatles fans all over the world, so that project confirmed to us there was a market for well resolved, exclusive jukeboxes which can demonstrate a tangible connection between the source material and end product. We just realised we needed to evolve the creative and production process to allow such projects to take place more efficiently and to ensure our obsession with quality remained as high with bespoke boxes as it did for our standard models.”
Although they may retain the look and feel of classic models, the company’s handmade jukeboxes incorporate the very latest technology to deliver a product that’s tailored to a customer’s exact specifications. With its Mimaki UCJV300 driving creativity and delivering spectacular visuals, Sound Leisure’s jukeboxes are now more than ever capable of providing decades of enjoyment for generations of customers around the world.