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  The Hub: News, events, gossip - Sound by Singer to close
For the last quarter-century, there has been no high-end audio dealer in the world as well known as Andrew Singer, of Sound by Singer in Manhattan. From the junk-bond era through the last burst bubble of the markets, the megabuck systems sold by Andy Singer reflected not just the extremes and excesses of the high end, but of Wall Street itself.

On the 6th of August, Singer informed his vendors that "despite our best efforts, Sound by Singer has lost its lease and will be shutting down its showroom at 18 East 16th Street, New York, NY in mid-September." He did not state specifically that the company was going out of business, only that the company would "ponder our next move" after the completion of a clearance sale on August 21st.

Attorney Andrew Singer began his business more or less as a hobby in the late '70's, demoing systems in his mother's living room for a hardcore audiophile clientele. Singer left the practice of law in 1978 with the opening of the first Sound by Singer store on Lexington Avenue between 34th and 35th Street; his first employee was Steve Guttenberg, now well-known as an audio writer, reviewer and blogger.

From the '80's on, Singer's bearded visage became a common sight in full-page ads in audio magazines, most notably in Sterophile. Singer's advocacy contributed to the success of many brands, including Krell, JM Labs/Focal, and VTL. Perhaps more than any other well-known dealership, Sound by Singer was viewed as an extension of its owner, and that owner evoked strong reactions in those who knew him, and those who merely knew of him.

Singer's verbal facility, combative nature, intolerance of fools and imposing physical presence made him the subject of endless stories, some no doubt apocryphal. We may never know, for instance, if an amplifier really was shot full of holes following a dispute with its distributor.

The audiophile community is familiar with stories of Singer's alleged arrogance; the industry abounds with tales of hard-dealing and tough terms. Many who worked with and for Andy, though, are fiercely loyal.

"I think he was a great businessman," said Steve Guttenberg. "I was with him for sixteen or seventeen years, on and off, and always got along with him well.The thing most audiophiles don't realize is that retailing audio is hard work, and we worked hard there. The bulk of the time, I worked my ass off; every day was a race to get things done, and they just didn't all get done."

Guttenberg noted the changes in clientele that came as Sound by Singer grew from an audiophile hangout to a destination for the rich and famous: "in the early days, the customers really were exclusively audiophiles. In the last ten or fifteen years, I'm guessing three-fourths of the customers were rich people, not necessarily audiophiles."

John DeVore of DeVore Fidelity knew Andy Singer both as his boss and as one of his dealers. "I started in sales in '96, and worked there until about 2000, and tapered off as my company got up and running," DeVore said. "I always liked Andy, and still do. He was my biggest dealer, and when he called to tell me about the closing--well, that wasn't a conversation I wanted to have."

Strong opinions seem to follow most of Singer's actions, and they've followed the news of the closing of his store. Posts on an industry forum on CE Pro were less than kind; high-end legend and founder of The Absolute Sound Harry Pearson said the closing was "a fate richly earned and deserved."

What Andy Singer will do after the doors close for the last time at the familiar storefront on 16th Street, and he ponders his next move, remains to be seen. Some say that health issues and age mean retirement is likely; others speculate that Sound by Singer with adapt to the demands of the virtual marketplace and reappear as an online business. Efforts to talk with Singer have proven fruitless.

John DeVore offers a comment that will encourage some, and dismay others: "Hi-Fi is really in Andy's blood. I'd be surprised if he didn't come back."

Our next entry of The Hub will discuss still more changes in the world of audio retailing. In audio, as in the rest of the world, the only constant is change.


Sound By Singer has moved, and is not closed. Please see their new location here: SOUND BY SINGER,LTD. 242 WEST 27 STREET,SECOND FLOOR NEW YORK, NEW YORK 10001
Audiogon_bill  (Threads | Answers | This Thread)

  Responses (1-67 of 67)
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08-20-10   Wow. it sounds like this guy would get more love if he went ...   Azaud

08-20-10   Many have weighed in on andy's personality! while i could no ...   Azjake

08-20-10   i could not read past this sentence. you gotta' be kidding.   Srwooten

08-20-10   Boy, from what i have read on this and other sites i sure ho ...   Davt

08-21-10   The legend of andrew singer's arrogance is founded on fact, ...   Birddogthecat

08-21-10   Andy was always kind and patient with me for 25 years but i ...   Pookie10

08-21-10   I had the opportunity of visiting sound by singer this summ ...   Gomerpile1

08-21-10   Az twins: audio is full of ex-attorneys. not an accusation, ...   Audiogon_bill

08-21-10   I use to see and read the sound by singer ads in stereophile ...   Chieffuncap21

08-21-10   Audiogon-bill, don't forget jacob marley. as seen above ther ...   Davt

08-21-10   Chief--i hate to see anybody close, doubly so when it's some ...   Audiogon_bill

08-21-10   I went into the store a couple of times, and was always amaz ...   Snofun3

08-21-10   I met mr singer and had some short lived dealings with him a ...   Noteworthy

08-21-10   Sno: dunno what to say. sorry for the bad experience. note: ...   Audiogon_bill

08-21-10   Never met him, never went in the store, saw the ads in stere ...   Uru975

08-21-10   In 1979 i bought a pair of large acoustats sound unheard (th ...   Clarkjohnsen

08-21-10   thanks for the heads up, bill. like so many stores with &q ...   Samuel

08-21-10   Uru: agreed, he will be missed. clark:"no hard feeling ...   Audiogon_bill

08-21-10   "the megabuck systems sold by andy singer reflected not ...   Chazro

08-21-10   Chaz: uh... right. thanks for the interesting comment. i'll ...   Audiogon_bill

08-21-10   It is really sad, and a sign of things to come. i think even ...   Pep21

08-22-10   I have personally had no experience with andy singer.however ...   Daveyf

08-22-10   Trust me peter mcgrath knew he was a pain in the ass and cha ...   Ferrari

08-22-10   I never met singer nor his store personally, but it was almo ...   Flg2001

08-22-10   Pep: i seriously doubt that all audio sales will become web- ...   Audiogon_bill

08-22-10   No worries mercurial people such as andy and peter always ma ...   Ferrari

08-22-10   Speaking of landing on his feet, the singer website now anno ...   Audiogon_bill

08-23-10   And why should that be a surprise - you gotta love it bill - ...   Ferrari

08-23-10   My only experience was when visiting my sister in manhattan ...   Jamesgarvin

08-23-10   I have had a totally different experience at the store. i u ...   Mrtennis

08-23-10   Mrtennis, what an interesting comment you say in #5..try to ...   Daveyf

08-24-10   James, tennis, davey: it's said to feel you have to actively ...   Audiogon_bill

08-24-10   I remember my grandfater who was a army calvary officer in t ...   Ferrari

08-24-10   They had a lot of expensive gear on display and i noticed no ...   Mapman

08-24-10   I have no reason to doubt the many horror stories about this ...   Loomisjohnson

08-24-10   "chaz: uh... right. thanks for the interesting comment. ...   Chazro

08-24-10   pep21....i noticed you just joined the site this month.hang ...   Tpreaves

08-24-10   Mapman, i would have no issue with a salesman lurking around ...   Jamesgarvin

08-24-10   Couple of years back i came in to some money and was in mark ...   Nilthepill

08-24-10   Ferrari: great story. thanks. map: if they're gonna do that ...   Audiogon_bill

08-24-10   I wanted to re-terminate three tonearms to xlr and was advis ...   Azjake

08-24-10   not discouraging anybody,just stating a fact!!!!   Tpreaves

08-25-10   Never met andy and his boys, but appears i have met his kind ...   3wayxover

08-24-10   Azjake, this is unlike brooks. ask for brian ( his son) if b ...   Nilthepill

08-25-10   I'm with daveyf, every person is a perspective buyer. attit ...   Rx8man

08-25-10   Rule #1: view every person who walks in the door as a potent ...   Rtn1

08-25-10   I know andy, i like andy and i respect andy. if you were ...   Music_at_work

08-25-10   As long as you're the exclusive purveyor of a desirable prod ...   Loomisjohnson

08-25-10   "however, to succeed with this approach, a retailier ne ...   Mapman

08-25-10   I second the thumbs up on goodwins high end. solid advice an ...   Ferrari

08-25-10   thanks for the comments, all. i'm especially glad to read p ...   Audiogon_bill

08-25-10   Speaking of steve guttenberg, his blog today addresses conce ...   Audiogon_bill

08-25-10   Rx8man, and i are in agreement. here is an interesting story ...   Daveyf

08-25-10   Davey: years ago when i was in the racing industry in memph ...   Audiogon_bill

08-25-10   Years ago working for radio shack, some of my best customers ...   Mapman

08-25-10   Oh, well. as the mayor of my town once told me. "there ...   Ogi

08-26-10   the bad news-- a landmark, qustionable as it might be, is ...   Ozy

08-26-10   I saw mr. singer so many times in the magazines i subscribed ...   Orpheus10

08-26-10   Map: thanks for the image of guys in white shirts, black hat ...   Audiogon_bill

08-26-10   Probably couldn't pull it off for lack of horse and buggy pa ...   Bjesien

08-27-10   I've never been in his store, never talked to them on the ph ...   Zaikesman

08-27-10   I only ever met andy singer once twenty odd years ago and ha ...   Macrojack

08-28-10   Something inside me tells we will see and hear more from him ...   Flg2001

08-29-10   Salespeople of many high end products are taught to "qu ...   Azaud

08-29-10   i always got a laugh out of seeing the full page flavour ...   Moonguy

08-30-10   I am very much aware of some of the negative comments that h ...   Danhirsh

08-30-10   Bj, z, macro, fig,az, moon: to each his own. each of your co ...   Audiogon_bill

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