the place your most likely talking about is in the 80s on east side....they have been this way since man was created and will stay that way when we all turn to dust...avoid them at all cost..let them go the way of the dinosaur.
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Try Take 5 Audio in New Haven, CT (near Yale University). I haven't been there in many years, but I dealt with them a lot during the 1990's and 1980's, and at that time, at least, they were exactly the kind of friendly and helpful dealer you are looking for.
I'll second Al's recommendation for Take 5 Audio. Ralph the owner was exceptionally pleasant and helpful in late October when I was there auditioning speakers - to the point that although I ending up purchasing speakers elsewhere, I am buying their demo Ayre C-5xe CD player to top off my new system.
I spent 2+ hours in his main listening room checking out Wilson Sashas and Revel Ultima Salon 2s, and another half hour with him in his office discussing my room and plans. At no point did I feel pressured, rushed or that I was being spoken down to, even though this is the first "audiophile" level system that I've assembled. It was a 125 mile drive for me, and in retrospect I'd drive twice that far to deal with someone as knowledgeable and as good a guy as Ralph.
Lyric, Innovative Audio, and Stereo Exchange are all well established dealers. I think Park Avenue Audio may still be around, too, but it's somewhat more of a mid-fi store.
The stored referred to in Schipo's post is Lyric - they can sometimes be fine, and other times be obnoxious. Bob Herman's not a bad guy.
Sound by Singer has recently reopened on an "by appointment" basis only. Andy Singer can be obnoxious and arrogant.
Ears Nova is also by appointment.
CSA Audio in Montclair, NJ, is a friendly bunch of guys who are knowledgeable and have a lot of good product.
Audio Doctor in Jersey City, NJ, is very knowledgeable and has good product.
The most interesting store in Manhattan in my opinion is MSS HiFi, which is a big used equipment dealer. The owner, John Boey, is a character, but he often has great used equipment at bargain prices.
People selling luxury goods in New York City are often going to be obnoxious and have attitudes - in their defense, they deal with a lot of arrogant, entitled customers.
The audio life has not been lived until you have visited Lyric in NYC on Lexington Ave. You will never buy anything there but the opportunity to be 'audio abused' is well worth the trip. Ask for Mr. Kay. You may be able to hear the subway running if you go to the basement. After your Lyric visit, rush downtown to Andy Singer's new place. Andy will refresh your case of 'audio abuse'. But be warned, Andy only deals with investment banker types with budgets of at least half a million.
I live in NY and went to all the high end dealers . By far, the best customer service I received was at Audio Connection in Verona, NJ. It's about 45 min from Manhattan. Ask for John Rutan. Nick is the turntable guy there. Remember that each store carries equipment from different manaufacturer. Also, no one mentioned Park Ave Audio which is decent.
I got very tired of the NYC dealers that I've been to. Cosmophonic Sound had a gentleman that was very good. I had 1 good experience in Lyric on Lexington, and several not so good ones. I guess I can't bash Sound By Singer, as I've been in 4 times and no ever said a single word to me. One guy made eye contact and nodded. I guess they were always too busy or something.
If you think Lyric on Lexington is bad, check out Lyric in White Plains.
I really liked Audiocom in Greenwich, CT. They recently moved to Norwalk, I believe. Haven't been there yet.
My favorite dealer by far is Accent on Music in Mt. Kisco. A great husband and wife owned and operated shop. Very friendly and knowledgable. I can't say enough great things about them. Their selection isn't the most expansive, as they're 99% Naim, Linn and Rega.
Definitely outside the City is better. Years ago I had a conversation with a very well know speaker designer. I told him I was in NYC and he directed me to audio connection in NJ. He told me to avoid the pompous NYC store that carried his gear! Sounded funny coming from a manufacturer, usually it's the customers complaining.
I like In Living Stereo - I thought they were always easy going. They have a new store which is a big improvement over their old space.
I haven't dealt with Andy in his new space. did, however, buy some Harbeth P3's last year from him, so he deals with lower priced clients too...
I had somwhat similar experience with Sound by Singer.
Their level of customer service will grow as you'll show desire to spend more or deep pocket.
I walked in there just to buy the analogue cartridge remembered to be one of my first Sumiko BPS.
The purchase looked like buying some groceries: "Analogue carts are on that shelf... go take a look". So I went, asked to remove from locked shelf, picked up, paid and took my way out... The Best Buy purchases of the same magnitude would look much more nicer.
Park Avenue Audio is probably out of business long time ago. Been there wasn't impressed by the equipment in stock. Their listening room would probably jeopardise most of the system performance criterias so auditioning there would not give you lots of usefull information.
The best dealers around NYC are outside NYC megapolis:
Had been dealing with TFTA in Westchester -- The personnel is extreamly knowlegable, great choice of 'toys', lots of vintage equipment for those who're interested.
Audioconnection in Verona NJ only 26mi from NYC: Probably the best listening rooms and huge array of the equipment. Exellent analogue choices. The only downside that JohnnyR constantly dogmatizing Vandys being the best of any kind where he might be wrong. Judge yourself if you visit coz none regrets visiting this place and neither do I.
Audio Connection in Verona, NJ is the best dealer I have come across in the NYC area. They are experts at getting system synergy right and work very hard to be sure that you are happy with your purchases. John and Nick are both very knowledgeable and Nick is an expert on turntable setup.
I have had good experiences with Sound by Singer and Innovative Audio as well.
Thanks so much for all the info.
Actually I visited Innovative Audio in NYC once and my experience was good. But the gears they demo is beyond my reach - Wilson Audio, Spectron, etc.
I thought they carry Dynaudio line which I was interested in audtioning. However, it seems they're phasing it out with only 2 models availabe - Contour s1.4 and another floor stand model.
FYI, I already got a pair of Harbeth P7ES3 and am in the processing of find the pre/power or integrated amps for it. Also, I need to upgrade my source - a solid SACD/CD player and/or a turntable. I would visit AudioConnection and get some advice about turntables.
If you're interested in a Linn or Rega turntable, Accent on Music in Mount Kisco has several on the floor and have a bunch of cartridges too. I know I mentioned them before, so please don't think I'm pushing them on you. I just really appreciate their way of doing business.
Mt Kisco is in Westchester, off the Taconic and/or 684.
Also, check out Reference Cinema & Sound. They used to be in Mt Kisco, but their website says Bedford Hills. The gentleman who owns it or is a part owner (Frank Huang, I believe) is a great guy. I couldn't afford 99% of what they had at the time, but he let me listen to a ton of stuff anyway. He had a bunch of great suggestions as far as what brands/models to listen to in my price range and where to find them. Right off the bat I told him my range, and he still talked to me and let me listen to stuff for over an hour. He was setting up a Halcro/Verity system and a CJ/Verity system for a demo. After he dialed everything in, he handed me the remote and said 'spin some of your CDs; the customer won't be here for another hour.' How many people will let you listen to a $75k system knowing that you can't even afford the power cords? How many will make recommendations on gear they don't sell and where to buy it? Hopefully I'll be able to afford some of the stuff he sells someday.
I bought both a power amp and a preamp from Sound by Singer and my sales person was none other than Andy Singer himself. He was courteous, knowledgeable, low pressure -- and actually steered me away from a more expensive pre because it was beyond my needs.So I have nothing but good things to say about my experience.
It's been years, but Singer and Lyric were always about qualifying the customer. As several have recommended above, wearing $400 shoes will go a long way towards getting you good service at either place.
Lyric was famous for guarding the vault. In the 1970's (IIRC), they had the Magnepan Tympani set up somewhere in the dark recesses of the store, and it was kind of a quest among audiophiles to see if you get a look/listen. I was in my twenties and never got close.
Many years later, I bought both Verity Parsifal/Encores and a Krell KSA50s from Andy Singer over the period of a couple of years and still got sized up every time I walked in the store.
In their defense, I suspect that both places get many hobbyists who have great curiosity about the exotica in these stores but no intention of/ability to purchase. As nice as it might be to see them nurture these potential future customers, I gather that both stores have concluded that it's not practical to do so. In the end, they run their businesses to make a buck. Both places have been around forever - surviving some pretty severe economic ups and downs that have wiped out many competitors - so maybe their judgement is (pardon the pun) sound. Though definitely unpleasant for those in less exotic footwear.
Audio Connection, by comparison, went 180 degrees the other way. Very nice, very helpful. Vandy centric, but I find that almost all Vandy dealers are.
Caveat, all experience are from the last millenium.
Martykl and others,
Thanks for sharing your experience. I think I'll stick with the more friendly dealers. While I understand the dealers' practice of qualifying customers, I just don't feel fairly treated when I have the intention to make purchase from a dealer who doesn't care about its potential customers.
Building a personal hifi system should be fun. We don't have to take the 'audio abuse' from those arrogant dealers.
Here's another nod to Innovative Audio. In my search for just-right monitors earlier this year, Bruce Deegan was informative and very accommodating. I did three separate, 2 1/2 hour auditioning sessions alone with the equipment and my own music, and, when I sought it, with Bruce's very perceptive insight into my listening preferences and guidance. It was customer service the way it should be. Indeed, I ultimately did not purchase from Innovative; but only because I decided on a speaker they don't carry, and Innovative was not put off in the slightest. We discussed the decision and they understood and endorsed it. When the upgrade urge next hits me, I will certainly return to Innovative; Bruce earned it.
Park Avenue Audio is still very much in business (a poster above wasn't sure). In fact, they are moving across the street to larger digs early next year, which will greatly and expand and improve listening room capacity. Glenn and Igor are good guys at Park Ave.
As others have noted, Stereo Exchange is approachable and has some good people working there. They also have interesting used equipment on the floor at fair prices. But the store gets very heavy foot traffic, and the staff is often distracted and pulled in different directions. Better to make an appointment.
I have been to most of the other NYC stores mentioned in this thread, and it's true that customers are too quickly sized up as either "ready cash," or not. It's unfortunate because in this town, the cover often does not reveal the book. My guess is that these stores needlessly are off-putting and lose sales to audiophiles who are serious buyers, albeit not hedge fund types.
Wow. All these posts bring back old memories. My 1st audiophile listening g experience was somewhere in the village listening to a Rega with Spica TC50s I think. At that time Stereo Exchnage wasa few blocks over down the street. Wanted a Pink Triangle turntable back then but I was in High School and that kind of money was a dream. Later Stereo Exchange waived and had the Apogee Divas set upon a massive room. I forget the amps but one of the best sounding systems I ever heard. The room was huge. Those were the days.
I went to Sound By Singer when they were upstairs selling Linn and a few other things. It wa fun and Andy is something special. Left me confused. At that time dealers were dealers and opinions from them were gold as forums and the Internet was something not in existence. I listened am y a time in the 33rd street location of Sound by Singer and was given a nice amount of freedom. Salespeople were there to sell but are helpful as well. I have dealt with Elliiott of Innivative and they are very accommodating during weekdays.
I am friends with Jeff from before he owned High Water Sound. One great guy and he is opinionated but honest. Very accommodating. They have some amazing equipment these days. Worth just going for a listen to hear what is out there. His store is really nice size room. You get a feel for the sound in a real world situation.
There aremorebutmy favorite memory of all time is of Lyric HiFi. I was wearing a Greek Week T short and Mr Kay thought I was Greek. He let me into the vault to hear one amazing system. Infiniti IRS Betas driven by Levinson 20.5s on the bass, and the dual chassis Carver tube mono blocks onthe Ribbons. I think the preamp was a top of the line dual chassis CJ. Amazing doesn't get there. That was when Lyric was Lyric. Many of these dealers were around from the beginning of Hi End audio and they need to be respected for how much they contributed to building the industry and the hobby.
Without them much of what we hear today would not exist and it would be a tweaker industry.
"I thought they carry Dynaudio line which I was interested in auditioning. However, it seems they're phasing it out with only 2 models available - Contour s1.4 and another floor stand model."
R0817, I was recently at In Living Stereo. They carry the Dynaudio line, and had at least two models in their larger room. Perhaps they had other Dynaudio models in their other listening room.