Based on personal experience:
Lou Hinkley of Daedalus Audio
Kevin Hayes of VAC
And although I haven't had occasion to deal with the following gentlemen, based on their contributions to these forums and on customer comments I have seen I have no doubt that the following should be included:
Ralph Karsten of Atma-Sphere
Duke LeJeune of AudioKinesis
Agree with Mark O'Brien of Rogue and would add John DeVore of DeVore Fidelity and Jim McShane for tubes and tube advice.
There are more great people in the industry than there is great equipment, IMHO. And pretty much what this means, to me is, that it's a lot easier to be a great guy, or gal, than it is to build a great preamp.
Ty Lashbrook from Tyler Acoustics
Paul Laudati from Clear Day cables
James Tanner from Bryston
Vinnie Rossi of Red Wine Audio.
Steve Deckert of Decware and his speaker builders, Bob & Mike Ziegler.
Paul Grzybek of Tube Audio Design.
Pierre Sprey of Mapleshade.
The team at Burson Audio will always get back to you with answers as well as
Funjoe at Clones Audio,
The guys at Oppo,
and a few others I can't remember at the moment.
All the best,
Mark Levinson -- very gracious at Red Rose Music in Manhattan.
J.D. MacRae - Jade Audio
Kevin Hayes - VAC
Doug Dale - Coda
Bob Backert - RHB Sound Dezign
Jim Aud - Purist Audio
Lloyd Walker - Walker Audio
Ty Lashbrook with Tyler Acoustics. Nicest guy I have dealt with in audio. Great speakers too.
Nicest guy I ever talked to in 40 years in audio is Louis at Omega speakers.
Nicest gentleman in audio was David Hafler, RIP.
Ralph Karsten -- Atma-Sphere
Roger Modjeski -- Music Reference
Bobby Palkovic -- Merlin
Jim Smith -- former AvantGarde importer
Frank Betz -- Soundex (RIP)
Another shout out for Lou Hinkley of Daedalus Audio. I'd also add Keith Herron, Karl Schuster (Empirical Design) and Dan Wright to the list. These guys are world class human beings who happen to make great audio equipment. They have spent countless hours supporting me in this craziness.
there are so many wonderful folks in the industry - here are just a few that quickly come to my mind:
Ralph Karsten (Atma-Sphere)
EJ / Clint (Wyred4Sound)
Kevin Hayes (VAC)
Roy Johnson (Green Mountain Audio)
Mike Elliot (CounterPoint)
Pretty much anybody at Pass Labs, Wilson Audio, Zu Audio
John Baloff @ Theta Digital
The folks at Martin Logan
Larry Zurowski at Magnum Dynalab
Jeff Poor at Balanced Audio Technology
Paul McGowan at P.S.Audio
As for down-to-earth dealers who try hard to understand the needs of it's customers. Fred Kat of Katli Audio in Chino Hills, California is one of the nicest, most sincere individuals I've ever encountered.
Too many snobbish, arrogant jerks in high-end audio in my opinion. Been to C.E.S. in Las Vegas for the last 15 years in a row. Many nice manufacturers and dealers, but entirely too many assholes and condescending nimrods who claim to be the know-it-alls and put down other companies wares. Same is true in the Los Angeles area. Been to a few too many audio stores full of jerks. IMHO.
I can't speak highly enough of the service given by Wyred 4 Sound. I have spoke to Clint a couple of times and to EJ once. They not only have an excellent product, they have customer skills second to none!
Another +1 for Jim McShane for tube selling.
A great guy for repairs of gear in NY is Scott Gramlich of SG Custom Sound. Scott has fixed speakers, turntables and tube amps for me. He has always been honest and sincere with advice.
I have not had a poor experience with any one I know. There are standouts: Nelson Pass, Siegfried Linkwitz, Luke Manley, Steve Deckert, Ed Stewart,... And these guys have their own reasons for it; Pass for the sheer fun while experiencing unforgettable audio, Linkwitz for patience, guidance, and thoroughness, Manley for stepping up and delivering customer service above expectation, Deckert for promise and the guarantee of it, and Ed Stewart for good, fun, off-the-beaton-path products, and stories. The fact that all provided me with the greatest audio experiences of my life is grand.
And Steve McCormack, always ready to give good counsel about his products whether you bought them from him or not.
I agree on Ralph from Atma-Sphere and Mark O'Brien from Rogue.
As for an importer, I would also add Mehran at SoraSound. Fabulous to deal with.
What Sfar said. Jerred at Jolida was an excellent person to
work with also.
add roger sanders to the list, and the folks at conrad johnson.
Ed Dietemeyer from Conrad Johnson who is now retired.
Ray Leung of Von Gaylord audio. Ray went above and beyond when I bought my equipment from him.
He came over, tuned and installed everything to perfection. He then came by a couple weeks later to make sure that everything was to my expectations.
To this day, he consistently reaches out and makes sure that I am happy with my system.
"Ray Leung of Von Gaylord audio. Ray went above and beyond when I bought my equipment from him.
"He came over, tuned and installed everything to perfection. He then came by a couple weeks later to make sure that everything was to my expectations."
Wow! That is real caring personalized service. I would have been so pleased if any of the designers of my stuff had visited with me and helped me with my set-up. Ah well.
@Jameswei I know. It is pretty rare these days to get that kind of service. I am lucky enough to live in the San Francisco, which is not too long of a drive.
Jeffrey Catalano @ High Water Sound
Jeffrey Catalano @ High Water Sound
Did I mention Jeffrey Catalano @ High Water Sound
I second Goldeneraguy
Jeffrey is amazingly different. Sold me on speakers he does not sell since I could not afford the ones he sold! Always open to talk music.
He's in the business cause he loves music. His extensive knowledge and his willingness to share it shows that. And it really doesn't hurt that the brands he represents are great too!
Kevin Barrett at KAB. He is always willing to talk and share his experience. He has been very helpful to me over the years.
-Gordon Rankin of Wavelength Audio. Gordon emailed me back within 30 minutes regarding amplifiers that he knew were purchased second-hand and offered his phone # if I needed any more assistance.
-Larry of Paragon Sight And Sound. Larry help me with a Doshi Alaap preamplifier that he knew was purchased second-hand. He then phoned me back with the pin information on a cable that he realized was being constructed by someone else. (XLR to RCA)
-Joe Levy of Tempo Electric. Constructed the above mentioned cable and speaker cables. Excellent phone conversations with him!
-Jerry Ramsey of Audio Magic. I purchased his Oracle, used and not from him. He gaev his time freely, I did purchase from him 2 Clairvoyant Liquid Air PCs and same 1 IC with nice pricing. I am Interested in buying a couple more from him soon. Extremely nice phone conversation with a very interesting guy!
Fully positive experiences all around! They all gave great SOUND advice!!!
Another vote for Lou at Daedalus Audio. Is this a competition by the way, if so, Lou is winning?
nowones mentioned Fritz at Fritz speakers, nothings too much trouble and Herbie at Herbies Audiolab.
Any coincidence that these are all one man and his dog outfits, where you get to speak to the head honcho, instead of the senior vice president for customer relations, or whatever?
Jonathan Tinn at Chambers Audio - he has been an absolute pleasure to deal with over the years. A real gent.
Anyone at Zu Audio - from Sean Casey on down.
John Iconomou of Audio Salon in Coral Gables, FL. John is extremely knowledgeable and easy to deal with. His enthusiasm is contagious and he carries some of the finest product lines out there.
Great folks with great gear as testament above, expressly implies. I would contribute Victor Khomenko of BAT.
Agree with Simon, John is a great guy. Bought my Bryston gear from him.
I'll second the mention of Jonathan Tinn at Chambers Audio.
Sterling Trayle at Spiral Groove
Tyler Mueller at Next Level Audio & Video
Mark at Reno HiFi
Elliot at Acoustic Image
Mark Jenkins at Antipodes.
Gary Graff at MG Audio (cables).
Everybody at Spearit Sound.
Elliot is still around? He stopped hosting the Los Angeles audiophile meetings a couple of years ago.
Joe Fratus and David Gill at Art Audio.
They make a fine preamp (Alana) & phono preamp (Vinyl One). They probably make other great products, but the only ones I own are preamps.
Arizona Hi Fi in Phoenix, AZ. Glen and Bill and great to deal with as well as being very knowledgable.
Tim Kroll of Shelby+Kroll is a great guy who loves to chat about his product and will help you any way he can to better your music enjoyment.
Eric Love of Fusion Audio. A great guy that always has the time to answer a question and is more interested in the sound than making a sale.