Hi-Fi in Bay Area?

Dear Goners:

Would anyone like to suggest good hi-fi shops in the Bay Area? Emphasis would be on very high-end two channel (Lamm, Brinkmann turntables, Verity speakers, etc., would be items of potential interest). Will be staying downtown at Westin St. Francis and would prefer something not too far away.

Thanks in advance for your suggestions.
Check out AudioVisions at 1603 Pine St. It's near the corner of Pine & Van Ness. I think it's the best shop in San Francisco. If you have a car, check out Music Lovers Audio in Berkeley. It's at 1995 El Dorado Avenue. There are some good shops in San Jose but that's a good hour away.
I just found out there is also a Music Lovers Audio in San Francisco. The address is 2295 Bush St.
Also if you have a car, Future Sound in Burlingame (not far from SFO airport).
Rent a car or take the train to San Jose to The Analog Room. Call them first to see if they have anything you want to listen to. It is my favorite place of every place in the Bay Area. The vinyl alone is worth staying an extra day for, if you can make it happen. Last time I was there they had over 10 turntables set up, from Rega to SME 30.

While you are in SFO, go to dinner at Jackson Fillmore. Also off the chart.
True Sound
I second AudioVision SF and Music Lovers. Two of the best audio shops I've yet to see!
I second the analog room...about 45 minute drive but worth the trip...they are closed Sunday/Monday. They have Brinkman and a whole bunch of other worthwhile stuff.
I agree with Skipclemmons, that The Analog Room is worth the trip to San Jose, by itself. (Really easy Freeway access too!)

They have the Brinkman Turntable you are looking for, as well as Basis, Nottingham and the others that were mentioned. (Along with some great tonearms and cartridges.) All set up and ready to listen to!

And, I also agree that the Jackson Fillmore is a great restaurant. The Brusheta(sic) is incredible.
Many thanks to all who responded. I do appreciate it.
I would stick to the SF places Jimmymac mentions, initially.

True Sound is located in Campbell, near San Jose. Nick Gowan's main claim to fame is as a tehnical wizard - master of component repair. He also sells some components out of his VERY small digs, though his selection is not deep by any means. However, Nick is one the best folks in the business and I would trust to him to order for you whatever you needed.

If you DO go to the Analog Room, call FIRST. Ask for Brian, the owner, and tell him what are your intentions if you are planning to BUY and you will be treated well. If you are ONLY planning to graze, I might save the effort and time. Keep in mind that unless you like the THICKEST of cigar smoke and are willing to purchase LP's whose jackets often reek of tobacco (and will if not sealed), AND you are prepared to accept a condescending response if you ask a question or make a comment not in keeping with the owner's opinions, don't reserve that rental car too quickly.
OK, OK, before you Analog Room lovers jump down my back, think about what I've said. You know it can be true. I have visited there many, many times so I do know of where I speak and suggest that, while a decent place in some instances and for some products, it can be a very intimidating place for the first-timer. The treatment there can be indifferent, at best, and extremely rude, at worst. I know, because I've seen (and once experienced) both. I mention this to the OP because I for a time I recommended the place to others without reservation, only to have a few folks be treated badly (which was actually not a real surprise) and then have them be angry with ME for suggesting the place.

End of disclaimer. ;-)
I also recommend you talk to Brian at The Analog Room. His attitude is unique and the cigar smoke might be a problem but I still recommended it. Please call first to confirm he is open and get driving instructions. The Analog Room is very hard to find and has no signs posted. If you get lost, please call him for help. Cheers..


I disagree, (as I have in the past), with your assertion that the treatment at The Analog Room is indifferent "at best". I won't dispute that at its worst, it can be rude, although certainly no more rude than EVERY other high end dealer can be on occasion. Certainly Brian is not even close to being in the same category as the old Audible Difference in Palo Alto was! (Argh, they were the worst. (I have heard they reopened that store, and hopefully this time, with better sales people.)

However, Brian, when at his best, can be incredibly helpful, and accommodating. He certainly has gone out of his way to make my buying experiences pleasant. (He has set up both of my turntables and tone arms for me for nothing. I bought both used off people from Audiogon or Ebay, and he knew it. Hell, he even guided me toward what to buy, after listening to my criteria for what I wanted. He literally unpacked both of my turntables and tone arms from the packing crates, assembled them, and then mounted the cartridge on, and properly adjusted it. Now does that sound indifferent to you? And don't think he went out of his way because I was buying Koetsu Jade Platinum cartridges from him every other week. I bought a Benz Micro Glider 2, and when that had its cantilever busted off, he gave me 40% credit toward a Koetsu Black. And he mounted both cartridges both times as a courtesy. (Total investment in these cartridge was under $2K.)

Certainly he does not appreciate it when you waste his time browsing in the store and wasting his time setting up and wearing out his equipment for useless listening sessions, with no obvious intention of buying anything, not even a used LP. But again, all high end dealers dislike to be used in such a fashion. (And rightfully so.)

My take on Brian is that he is incredibly knowledgeable person, especially in regards to all things analog, and a nice guy to boot. Once you establish that you accept his opinions as based upon his vast experience, regardless of whether you agree with him or not, he is fine to deal with. However, going into HIS store, and then arguing that he is wrong about his approach to high end equipment, is not the way to go about establishing a good working relationship.

Also, while I hate cigar smoke (almost as much as cigarette smoke - I never smoked, never have, never will), I have never found it to be the "THICKEST" cigar smoke at any time.

Can I smell it when I go there?
You bet.

Can I see it in the air?
No, not usually, but occasionally.

Brian is EXTREMELY good about keeping the doors and windows open when he does indulge.

And I have bought dozens of new, and several used albums from him. (He has a great selection, btw!) NONE of them had cigar smell on them. My wife would certainly have noticed, as she can smell as good as a hunting dog!

4yanx, what exactly did Brian do to get you so pissed?
Re: the Analog Room. Thanks, but as many hi-fi dealers are little more than reformed bong salesmen, it is my estimation of them that will likely be the issue.
I am not pissed at Brian, as you so eloquently put it Kurt, though you seem to be pissed at me. You will note that I said that I have been there many times and if the treatment were ALWAYS rude, that would not be the case, I assure you. Further note that I was specifically speaking of first-time customers and that I suggested the OP call first and go if he were interested to BUY and perhaps not if he was only going to graze. I also said that the treatment CAN be indifferent, at best, and I'll stand by that statement. Moreover, I am willing to bet that well over half of the first-time visitors to Brian's shop have probably felt intimdated if Brian was present, especially if they did not have a good deal of experience in talking analog. Who said anything about arguing with him in "HIS" store (is the owner always right these days?) or disagreeing with what HE says? I, quite plainly I thought, was talking about the other way around where a person says something or asks a question that rubs him the wrong way and then HE disagrees, often in a most unpleasant way. I've personally seen it happen several times more than once and I've felt embarassed for the person and I've seen the staff cringe. I would also take issue with you with your EVERY shop is rude statement. At least in my experience, I have NEVER seen anyone treated with anything but kindness and respect at Music Lovers in Berkeley and I have been there about 20 times - less than AR but still a good sample.

With respect to the cigar smoke. At least every other time I go in there, at least four or five people (generally Brian, his two helpers, and one or two customers) have cigars lit and are actively smoking (yes, the door is generally open - but not always, and I've NEVER seen a window open). The shop consists of five very small rooms, and the one back room is often closed. If that is not thick smoke, I don't know what is, and I used to smoke. And, sorry, I have had to air out a cover of three from LP's bought there. There is NO WAY that an unsealed LP that is in that store any longer than a month cannot smell of tobacco. Period.

I am not trying to be as critical of Brian as I am trying to be realistic to prospective vistors. I think if you were being truly candid, you'd see (even from your own comments) that we agree more than disagree, for insatnce I do think that he can be helpful if you get to know him and he likes you. Plus, my comments are meek and mild compared to those of some. But, whatever, others can certainly judge for themselves.
The analog room is a great place. They always treated me nice even if I was
grazing. After all Brian's input, it seemed like the lyra argo was the way to go.
After a few weeks I found the cartridge was not right for my system. I talked
to Brian and we decided to go to a Koetsu . He applied my full purchase
price towards the Koetsu. As far as the cigar issue, I think this is a minor issue.
I have purchased many records from him and there is no cigar smell
on the discs. If you're into analog ckeck him out, his store is turnbable and cartridge heaven.

I think the major bone of contention is that you state:

"The treatment there can be indifferent, at best, and extremely rude at worst."

This means, at least to me, that the BEST one can hope to be treated, is with "indifference". I completely disagree with that statement. I was not treated that way in my first visit, and I dealt with Brian. And I did not buy anything until my third or fourth visit. I was merely gathering information, and he more than gladly provided it.

And I disagree with your last statement that Music Lovers (at least the Berkeley store) is always a pleasant visit. My first couple of visits there were much closer to the Audible Difference code of conduct than to the pleasant Analog Room visits I have made. My friend had the same experience as I in fact. (We actually joked that if the salesman looked down his nose at us much longer, his eyeballs would roll down his nose, and land in the cuffs of his pants!)
(However, I will freely admit, that once you find a decent salesman at Music Lovers, that the experience can be pleasant. (Interestingly enough, the one salesman there I did like was named Brian. Go figure, huh?!) However, it does go to show that even the best stereo stores have their off days, and their fair share of rude sales consultants.)

I guess we will just have to agree to disagree.
Have a nice evening!
Agreed...to agree to disagree

Enjoy the music!
Harmony Stereo in San Francisco has been around for decades. Access To Music in San Rafael is really good. If oyu go to Harmony tell Frank that his old friend Mark sent you. Access, tell Craig or Patrick that I sent you.
Please post a report on the hi-fi shops in the Bay Area you visited. You received many suggestions above and I am interested in hearing what happened. Thanks
Hgeifman: It was not for me, but for a friend, and alas, he never got to any shops (he was there on business and never managed to get away).

Thanks again to all who responded.