Good luck. How's that for a suggestion? Where in LA will you be? Pretty much all the shops are gone now, with the exception of a small few. There's Optimal Enchantment in Santa Monica (by appointment only) but you'll be expected to buy something. Mostly Vandersteen and Audio Research last time I was there. Shelley's in Woodland Hills, small and not too helpful. Mostly Mac and Maggie's and some Linn. Acoustic Image in Studio City out of his home, again by appointment. More eclectic stuff. That's about all I can think of. BTW, these three shops are in three corners of LA and not too close to each other.
Agree with Zippy.
Evolution AV is in Agoura Hills - out past Shelly's in the West SF valley.
Upscale, Brooks Berdan, Katli, and Sunny are all well east of downtown.
Any of the above is a hike (>1 hr drive) from most LA start points.
unless you're coming from crabwell corners, do something else with your time.
Brooks Berdan LTD at 110 W. Olive in Monrovia (626-359-9131).
Brooks and Brian are the best.
The Goodwill or other thrift in the most expensive area you can identify. They always throw out perectly fine high end because they don't want any of the last husbands stuff even he is a celebrity. That stuff he left behind is too big and too heavy and none of her friends or family can figure out how it works. Or because they don't want the hassle of replacing a tube or getting speaker surrounds etc.
Wow, I had not realized that the high end scene was so bad in L.A. (It is not nearly so bad here in the Bay Area).
You might be better off looking at the record stores down there, such as Amoeba Records in Hollywood (6400 Sunset Blvd.), or other such places.
Weinhart Design, Inc.
2337 Roscomare Road, Studio 1
Los Angeles, California 90077
Ten years in L.A. and I haven't yet walked into an audio store that I would go back to. Your best bet is with the appointment-only guys. Elliot at Acoustic Image is great, but of course only if you're looking to hear something specific. Jay at Audio Revelation is also super to deal with, but he's a 2 1/2 hour drive south of downtown L.A.
There are a few new Vinyl stores in the area, Vacation in the Los Feliz neighborhood and Origami in Echo Park, both close to downtown (I haven't made it to either yet). Poo-Bah in Pasadena is long-established and fun to visit. It's a few miles away from downtown.
Here is a place you can have some fun with...L.A. AUDIO in Koreatown at 101 S. Western,near 1st st. South of Hollywood and West of downtown L.A. 213-252-0066 LAAUDIOVIDEO.COM
Downstairs it is mostly video-upstairs is all the audio gear and chances are they are not quite sure what they have or what it does or how it does it.That is what makes this place fun! You can see the list of companies represented on the website,but that does not mean that the gear is there.They seem very open to demos and despite the poor English skills of most who work there they are anxious to please and are far from snooty or high pressure,you just have to be persistent in your request to move some speakers around or hook up an amp.Also,i have the feeling these guys are ready to sell --so negotiate! If you want to hang and chat visit Brooks Berdan,one of the last watering holes for audiophiles in the area.A great place to go if you ever wanted to hear Wilson speakers.If you do go to Hollywood,go to Pink's on La Brea and get the best chili dog you ever stood in line for.Then you can jump over to L.A. Audio and look at some equipment,you might be there for a half hour before they notice you.Don't miss Amoeba Records on Sunset,it is the Home Depot of record stores.Also-when you see the distance between locations in the L.A. area please note that 5 miles might be a half hour in traffic,or worse!
Fourfour, are you looking to hear something specific? If so, mentioning the brand might help (and save you some time).
If you're looking to kill some time, traveling to any of the above mentioned stores in LA traffic will kill a good amount of it. Visiting any two stores will pretty much kill an entire day, with two to four hours of it spent on the road.
Having been at many of LA's high end audio shops, I find it about as much fun as a colonoscopy.
I've heard tremendous things about Brooks Berdan in Monrovia. At this point, it's the only shop that I have any interest in visiting.
LA Audio/Video does have a large selection of gear, and the atmosphere is pretty relaxed and low pressure.
LA Audio is the place on Western south of Beverly. Billy Kim is a great guy. They've been there for years on same location. I bough some NAD amps from them in 1989 than upgraded to Acurus couple of years later.
One of the most memorable event for me was when I helped the Kim family guard LA Audio during April 1992 riot with my only weapon at the time - set of Samurai swords. Billy's mom got shot thru her thigh... Their warehouse in south LA got wiped out. Richard (Billy's brother) had stock issue M-14 and we along with the sales guys huddled together on the rooftop ready to defend LA Audio. Police told us to evacuate later that night.
Please note that it is closed on Sunday as the owners are devoted Christians.
Ah the memories...
Bummer, I live in LA, and after reading this thread I got depressed.
GNP Audio in Pasadena is pretty cool.., they gave me a good deal on my Audio Research PH5. Laid back and no pressure with very knowledgeable staff.
1.Acoustic Image in Studio City- Elliot works out of his home and he actually listens to music. He has a good ear and knows what sounds good. The only downfall is he is by appointment only.
2.Brook Berdan Ltd- Brooks and his son Bryan run the shoppe and they are both very Helpful. They specialize in Analog and have a very good reputation. They are closed Sunday and Monday.
3.L.A. Audio- This is a family run business that caters to the asian market. They carry all the boutique brands. They are very low key and will not pressure you. The only problem is the people that work there speak very little english. If you speak korean You'll have a ball.
4.Optimal Enchantment- Randy features Audio Research and Vandersteen. This is not the place to go for the flavor of the month audio. This is also an appointment only store.
5.Shellys audio and video- If you like Mcintosh this is the place to go. They have over 30 pieces on display. They also carry the Magnepan line of speakers.
Looking at the responses above, it amazes me that a city as big as LA has so few hi-end outlets. Perhaps this is a statement on the health of the business in the present economy.
BTW,Isn't Gene Rubin still in the LA area as well?
Gene Rubin works out of his home. He is located in Ventura county.
I had a very positive experience at Brooks Berdan in Monrovia. He is setting up an audio museum as well, if you want to see some very cool vintage gear.
Thanks for all the responses. Time allowing (and traffic!), I will set up appointments to visit a couple of places.
Safe way to travel thru L.A. is in an Abrams M1A2.
There are a buttload of hi-end shops south of LAX, all within 30 minutes or so.
There are two right next to each other in Redondo Beach:
Definition Audio and Systems Design Group. If you keep going south another 15 minutes, you can find Audio Concepts in Long Beach (they have another store in San Gabriel.) Then you've got Sound Factor in Santa Monica and Encino. But be aware, most, if not all, close on Sundays.
Another in Redondo Beach is "The Home Theater Doctor" which offers both theater and two channel products.
Sound Factor in Santa Monica closed some time ago.
Wow Soundfactor from the 80's? They had shops all over including SF Valley (North Hollywood on Victory Blvd).
Again check out LA Audio off of Western south of Beverly. Tell Billy the guy who came with samurai swords to defend his store during April 1992 "Rodney King" riot sent you. I went to his younger bro Richard's wedding and he came to mine too.
wow! those guys at sound factor were good and helpful.
i had dealt with santa monica and doc over at encino.
they were good guys to deal with. sad to hear them gone.
Dr.Jack left the Encino store about a year ago. It is currently being run by his partner. I don't know If he is still Involved with the operation of the business.
Sound Factor was called Sound Circuit in the 70's.....I bought my first reciever there, a Sansui 771 at the Ventura Blvd store in '75.
Gene Rubin Audio
Gene Rubin is great If you are Into Naim electronics and Harbeth speakers.
Down here is SanDiego, which until reading the above posts, I'd have thought of as the end up the world, has a couple of places of note:
1, just up the street in Carlsbad has Mac, CA, PassLabs, Paradigm speakers and a bunch of other goodies. I bought a PSAudio Soloist outlet there last year.
Down South is another operation with no less than 7 or 8 demo rooms. Wadia, Krell....electronics and speakers.....B&W, Rotel, Naim, Rega, Magnepan, and many more. Good used selection and great staff.
There is a mid-fi place or 2 with NAD offerings, include the 'M' stuff. More boutique AV/HT places than you can shake a stick at finish it off.
Not a lot, but overall pretty nice.
Check out Digital Ear in Tustin, CA, they have the top shelf gear you're after:
Stereo Design in San Diego also has top stuff:
Sunny Components in West Covina, CA has good stuff, but the owner is very difficult to deal with and he's by appt only, so the hassle may not be worth it.
Jay at Audio Revelation (San Diego) and David at Weinhart Designs (Beverly Hills) carry Magico and have good reputations, but they are by appt only.
Brooks Berdan is probably worth a visit, and from the comments above, they seem to be one of the more approachable dealers around.
Upscale Audio in Upland, CA have a great reputation among tube enthusiasts, but I don't think they do walk ins or appts really...
Brace yourself for some serious LA HiFi attitude, most times it's not pleasant dealing with dealers, but a necessary evil if you want to enjoy and explore this hobby...
Weinhart Designs also has the new Magico M5s. Listening to the M5s alone would be worth a trip to LA...
San Diego, Tustin, Upland, Monrovia, Ventura, West Covina...
Guys, the OP is in LA for a short visit. Do you think he's going to drive all over
Southern California to visit audio shops?
"Do you think he's going to drive all over Southern California to visit audio shops?"
Since there are slim pickings in LA proper he doesn't really have any choice if he wants to achieve his desired objective.
... he doesn't really have any choice if he wants to achieve his desired objective.
Narrod (Threads | Answers)
I haven't read anything specific about his objective other than wanting to stop by a couple of LA's top stores.
Anyway, driving all over Southern California's freeways wouldn't be my recommended way to enjoy some free time in LA.
I would rather make the drive to a good HiFi shop in S. CA than waste my time within LA county at the not so great shops. So, I would want to know about all of the better S. CA shops, then pick the good ones in a specific area to visit.
Better to have more options than less, right?
Weinhart Designs used to be Ambrosia Audio didn't it? Ambrosia was a pretty good store as I recall, and Weinhart is in LA, correct?
David Weinhart is a good guy. But I would not be spending time driving around El Lay. Go to The Getty or try out restaurants or something, but driving around for stereo stores is not a particular activities that I recommend.
Nkta, glad to see someone else gets it.
The Getty. Excellent idea. A perfect way to spend a few hours in LA.
Well, since we are off topic now...
While in LA, the place you should REALLY go, as a music lover and audiophile, is the Walt Disney Music Hall for a classical performance. LA may not have the friendliest and best HiFi shops, but they do have some of the best musicians and one of the better symphonic music halls in the world.
You'll get closer to the music there than you would sitting in any dealers showroom.
There you go...Santa Monica Beach in the morning, The Getty in the
afternoon (exceptional artwork in addition to beautiful gardens, spectacular
LA view, and very good food), and dinner at Patina followed by the LA Phil at
Walt Disney Hall in the evening.
That's a very nice day in LA.
There is Audio Video Today On Beach Blvd,in Westminster, Ca. If you happen to be in the area. If not like others say, go to Brooks Berdan for Wilson ( They have Alexandrias II set up) , VTL, AR, Vandersteen and other exotic stuff. (you might see La Luce TT) Brooks and Brian are sweet hearts. Really.
Or Weinhart Designs (opposite of sweet heart, but still a good guy ;-))) is a good store to go to. ( TVAD, Weinhart designs is exactly below (1st flr) where Ambrosia' used to be (2nd flr)- in same Bldg). Digital Ear used to be a great store also. The Getty and Weinhart Designs are close by.
But like TVAD says pick a place or two and plan it other wise you will burning away your valuable time shuttling around LA freeways
If you are in to Vinyl, surely visit Amoeba.
LA Audio on Western had Wilson (Alexandria, Sophia, & Watt Puppy), VTL, Audio Research & a whole bunch of other very high end gear when I last checked. They keep all the expensive stuff upstairs, so you'll have to ask them to take you up there.
There's also Ahead Stereo on Beverly, between La Brea and Fairfax. They sometimes have interesting pieces.
Brooks Berdan, GNP and Sound Factor are all relatively close.
One can easily do all three in a few hours. I'm assuming GNP is still in Pasadena and Sound Factor is in Rosemead. I left LA in 2005. I know Brooks is still in Monrovia.
Here's my $.02 worth - most of the high-end audio stores in L.A. went out of business (or appt. only; almost the same thing) because they got too snooty. Prices too high, service too low, and they forgot how to attrect new customers.
Here are the stores that I still visit:
1- Sound Factor in Encino. Dr. Azzhole is gone (thank God) and Murray runs the store. Good place to deal, but they mostly seem to deal in mid-fi lately. Usually lots of good junk to haggle over.
2- Shelleys in Woodland Hills. Good store and staff. Most of of their gear is not my cup of tea (Linn & Mac). Usually not a lot of used gear.
3- Upscale Audio in Upland. Great store, great prices. Hard to get an appt. Appt. only, so not a good place to just browse. Lots of used and demo gear.
4- Optimal Enchantment in Santa Monica. Randy is a great guy, but you had better be looking for Audio Research and Vandersteen or else. Not a lot of used gear last time I was there. Appt. only.
5- Sound Asylum in Venice. Currently my favorite store for hi-end gear. James is a great guy and he carries a lot of good brands. New, used and demo. Appt. only.
6- L.A. Audio - not my cup of tea, but I go in there occasionally. Sometimes you can snag a good deal.
I would pick a couple of stores in an area (the valley, or santa monica/venice, etc.) and spend the rest of my time looking at used vinyl.
Thanks for all the info! I will be there on business, so I have only one day to relax and go check out a few places. Again, thanks all for your thoughts / opinions!
I have lived in LA my entire life (I am 50) and have been in music business around live touring for 30 years. My father was a known session player. I have been around "pro gear" all my life, been in numerous studios, and have never really had to deal with the consumer retail electronics market here in LA before 2007.
I was introduced to the site about two years ago. My wife wanted a simple system for a den we have off our kitchen. My first posting on this site (you can see it in my threads)was looking for dealers in the OC, LA and SD area.
My experience with the retail community here has been underwhelming at best, humourous in the extreme personalities I have met.
Constants have been:
a) rigs that are more expensive than some of the standard pro gear I see in recording studios and not as nice sounding or musical to boot
b) suggested offerings not in tune with dimensions of the room--I am always being "upsold" into gear with greater than needed capacity (i.e. amps with more watts and floor standing speakers that will overwhelm a room--the loudness factor)
c) "shuck and jive" sales tactics around promoting older model inventory--what was "hot" three years ago with Stereophile or TAS that is now the has-been road kill inventory on this site
d) products selected through their "total line" relationshps with wholesalers rather than through real musical synergy.
So here is what I have personally found:
1) Audio Revelation: a man and a beagle in a room freighteningly small--a narrow living room in a condo. Brought a few reference albums down--Jay proceeded to reject all of them (my favorite--told me my personal copy of Van Morrison's Astral Weeks "was no good") and proceeded to play Alison Krause on a pair of $26 k Magicos that are about 6 times the price of the ATC monitors I professionally edit on, with the same sound clarity. The beagle apparently stepped in gum, which then got transfered onto the couch, causing the session to end, as he went to clean his sofa. Depressing.
2) Brooks Brendan: nice retail space--one premier room. Based on my request, offered up a VTL and Wilson combo that would totally overwhelm the den, played at a sound level that recalled Led Zep at Madison Square Garden. Priced at $30,000, so I could see $15,000 in depreciating assets while just walking out the door.
Would not reconfigure a cheaper and more practical solution involving smaller Vandersteens which were in the front room--"it would take too much time to set up" and "you really would not like them compared to the Wilsons." Also, did not have a functioning turntable, so I could only demo on a CD player.
The son was nice, no pressure, but there again, never heard a more practical setup based on need or budget. A lot like peeing down your leg--you don't know why you did it but it leaves you with a warm feeling for 5 minutes.
3) Digital Ear: nice spacious environment. The junior sales person was nice, and recommended a nice demo involving Gallos and simple ss amp. Mid-stream into the session, we were interrupted by the owner who insisted that I move into another room. I had to listen to AP Scorpios driven by a BAT amp--again the magic $20 to 30k, under the Madison Square Garden loudness scenario. Nothing I could do would persuade them to allow me to resume listening to the original smaller rig. The hardest sell ever. I gracefully walked out. PS: never see anything about Scorpios on this site--were evidently hot in 2005.
4) Gene Rubin: nice on the phone; suggested I forget about driving up to Ventura to personally demo at his house. His recommendation: he would let me demo any of his gear shipped against my credit card to my house. While I think this is reasonable, I did not also want the liability of stolen and undelivered goods left by UPS, plus the possibility of damage brought on in the installation process.
5. Upscale Audio: Friendly people with a tube slant. As someone mentioned above--hard to book an appointment but a nice selection of moderate to mid priced gear to view. Realistic in sizing the rooms--showed me a nice ERA speaker. Build quality is not rugged, but not cheap--If it is made in China--it is sold here.
Bottom line: Viewed the experience as a complete waste of time, not professional given the price range of the products, had anything but a luxury end user experience, and wasted a bunch of time along the way.
My solution: ended up buying via the net from my pro suppliers a ATC/Benchmark solution for a fraction of the price with equal the sound of their best systems.
My advice: go to Amoeba Records in Hollywood and enjoy one of the best record shops in the world. Then have some margaritas and some real Mexican food and take a nap at the beach.
I wholeheartedly agree with Jaybo's comments.
Maybe a little harsh, but overall, nicely put.
You might want to see if anyone's playing at McCabe's Guitar Shop (on Pico in Santa Monica) the evening you're here. A great, intimate space for inetersting performers. You can walk to Valentino for a (quite expensive) Italian dinner with the best wine list in LA, or drive 5 minutes to either Lara for good, inexpensive Mexican or Josie's for upscale (not Audio) Cal cuisine.
Do I hear other ideas on the way?
Marty: No need for any other ideas. (My favorite McCabe's show: Liz Phair and her band in 1994, with Beck as the opening act, singing without any instrumental accompaniment.)
Bongo is spot on number 2,3,4 and 5, and his advice.
I do agree with your assessments on dealers 1,3,4 and 5. I do have to stick up for Brooks Berdan. They have always went out of there way to help me and even ordered Items for me without asking for money up front.
Nil and Jim: Hey, it reminds me of the Neil Young song "Piece of Crap." :)