Mine does not exist anymore (although it is still there I hear). It was the original Audio Labs in West Des Moines, IA and the owner was Harry (can't recall his last name). Maybe his son Elli (?, it's been 30 years) is running it now, I don't know for sure. Harry was a great guy and never objected to hooking anything up together for a listen (no matter how odd). One day we were running the little B&O (don't laugh, he carried this line as well as many others) S45's with a huge Harmon Kardon power amp (the biggest they made in 72 or 73) to see if the speakers would handle it (kind of like playing with army men:-). They did and sounded quite good (better than they should have) on light classical and he kept it setup for awhile. His staff once spent a couple of days setting up a pair of huge expensive column speakers (on which each of the many drivers were individually adjustable) with pink noise generators and such. Following that he allowed me to adjust them by ear (maybe he did not really like his staff that much as they all looked like they were going to puke:-). After my neighbor (an electrician) passed away he helped to maintain my tube equipment, always for a minimal shop charge plus parts. I never had much money to spend, but it did not seem to matter to him as he just enjoyed fussing with gear like we all do and sharing the experience with others. He did do a good business at the time as it was the only game in town for high end audio
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Rob,s store is cool.He hosted the first meeting of the Toronto Audiophile group.A great time was had by all.
My personal favorite is Alternative Audio in Dundas,Ontario
Mike Oddie and Phil are great guys.No presure and lots of great tube gear.If your in the Southern Ontario area its worth a 2 hour drive at least.
Arthur Salvatore,s High End Audio is worth a visit its a little further out in the beaches,an unique experience.
Rickey at Audio Exellence is very genourous with his time as well on Bayview in Richmond Hill.
Audio Oasis in the old Junction area has a great assortment of vintage tube gear.
Gotta throw my two cents in for Goodwin's High End in Waltham, MA. Didn't even know they were here when I moved to town. They carry really high-end stuff (I've heard the Dynaudio Evidences there at $85,000, as well as the Martin Logan Statements at $70,000), most of which I can't even identify. Even though I'm at the level where I'll buy a $2500 CD player, I'm in there quite frequently to listen to unrealistically expensive stuff. They're terrific about it. They're very knowledgeable, generous with their time and their demos, and very low-pressure. It's brought me back to using dealers for certain things. Also, I keep having the same repeated experience. I'll be on the phone with technical support (e.g. Theta, CAL, Classe, REL), and when I tell them what part of the country I'm calling from, they say (off the top of their head), "Have you been to Goodwin's High End?" The REL techie in California even knew to recommended them! They're about 15 miles west of Boston, MA, and they do stock used stuff.
Its sometimes hard to separate the quality of a store from the sales staff you interact with, but I find very often that the treatment I receive from some dealers very much depends on the person I speak with. It's easy to point out quality individuals, but much harder to identify quality dealers. One often discovers the difference when problems arise and you need to deal with someone other than "your" salesman. Generally, when attitude and service vary across the staff, my comfort level with the store drops and I tend to base my dealings with them more on their written policies than with our relationship or attention by any individual. Consistency, fairness and personal service are necessary elements in my definition of a "quality" dealer.
That said, I want to mention a couple of stores that I feel fall into the category of high quality dealers. One of these is Bay Area Audio in San Jose, where across the board my dealings with their entire staff over the past couple of years has been excellent. The salesfolks are very knowledgeable, and I've never been treated with anything but the utmost respect on each and every visit. Sadly, their lines don't align well with my tastes, and I haven't bought as much from them as I (or they) would have liked. However, given this reality, and the fact that I'm still treated extremely well by them, I have to include them in that very narrow category of high quality dealers.
Another dealer that has been outstanding is The Analog Room, also in San Jose. As their name implies, analog is their game and based on my visits there, high end audio as a hobby seems to be every bit as important as it is a business. The atmosphere is very relaxed, the lines they carry are top notch, and the (tiny) staff is knowledgable and very helpful. Another quality dealer in my book.
Two of my favorites in the Mid-west are Accent Sound in Overland Park Ks (speak to Herb)and Holm audio in Woodbridge , IL (Albert). Both stores offer knowledgable advise and the ability to fully audition equipment in ever range. Holm has some really esoteric analog equipment. It is anways a pleasure to visit both.
Hi Fi sound in Minneapolis Minnesota is by far my favorite place to shop. The owner, Scott is a pleasure to deal with and his reccomendations have really helped me get the most out of my system.
I think what makes a good shop is the people who work there. I have tried the other Hi End shops here in the metro area and at each one I had a terrible time getting even an acknowledgment while walking into their store. I remember standing in a store that shall remain nameless and waiting 35 minutes for even one salesperson to say hello. The retail actvity consisted of 2 salesman trying to sell a guy with a $340 receiver $185 Kimber interconnects. Another salesmen was attempting to sell a Mark Levinson system (85K) to a couple who had come in for a Sony Mini system. Meanwhile, I wandered around with 3K in my pocket ready to purchase a CDP that day. Finally, a salesmen came over and said he would be over in a minute. I asked him to audition the EMC 1. He told me the player was OK and was in reality a very SLOW player. He was a complete jack ass know it all. So on top of waiting 35-40 minutes to get even a hello they didn't have the player in the store and I had a pompous jack ass telling me what I was hearing. Another salesmen on the way out told me he would like to take my name and number and give me a call when it came back in for an audition. Needless to say they never called.
Scott at Hi Fi sound called about 2 weeks latter and asked me how my system was going. Told him about my experience and he hooked me up with an Arcam FMJ23. Upgraded me to the EMC1 as soon as it came in and needless to say I have never purchased anything locally from another dealer. It is nice to find a dealer who respects the people he does business with. Unfortunatley that is a rarity in the Audio business. StereoLand is also a good place to shop. Ron is an outstanding guy as well. Other than that, most of the other dealers around here are junk.
HATS OFF to HI FI SOUND MPLS!
PROGRESSIVE AUDIO Columbus Ohio
Like Slowhand, I live 2 hours away, but it's worth the drive - I don't know what could get me to buy anywhere else. The store has great listening rooms, they have great gear at all price points, give you all the time in the world to listen, and the staff and the owner are great people. I stop in to say hi whenever I'm in columbus, and once or twice a year I walk out with something.
My favorite audio store is one I have never seen but hope to soon. It is hifi farm. Steve davis and his crew are amazing in their scope of equipment, their ability and their knowledge. Steves love of music and audio reproduction is amazing. They have been vastly more helpful than most stores have been that are within my area. I have only seen the store in pictures but it looks great and friends that have been there rave about it. Gary
LYRIC HI FI NYC and White Plains N.Y.The man who started it all MIKE KAY The pioneer in this business.Love him or not no one can or has lasted in this crazy hobby as long as mike.Any manufactuer in the world no's that mike is the man.If you are lucky to live in the greatist city in the world go see mike.