Sounds like Chicago should be on your short list.
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Definitely the S.F. Bay Area should be a top contender.
We have one of the premier analog shops in the South Bay (The Analog Room in San Jose). They have a dozen or more turntables setup and waiting to be played, along with all the electronics, mostly tube, that you would ever want to hear. (I know that you have a good turntable setup, so you would love to check that out.) Plus they have most of the new vinyl releases, especially the audiophile releases.
In Berkeley, they have Music Lovers, which is a really good stereo shop as well. More geared toward loudspeakers rather than The Analog Room which is geared toward the analog end of the spectum.
Also in Berkeley (as well as S.F.,) they have Ameoba records, which is a pretty good record store.
Plus, there are half a dozen other pretty good, but smaller stereo stored between San Jose and S.F.
Plus, the weather out here is California is pretty good right now, as the rains have stopped.
PS You can visit and spend money here, but DON'T move here. It is crowded enough!
Hey, thanks for the suggestions. Chicago - brrr! I'm coming from the Great White North and prefer a gentler clime. Memphis? Well it's been some time since I've had decent BBQ but is there a lot of audio there? NoCal is a good suggestion but I've been there recently for non-audio business. It's on the list though.
I'm probably asking for too much but I'm thinking about camping out in a motel on an Interstate within a 2 hr radius of an airport and maybe five or six good stores. Is there anywhere in SoCal, Texas or Florida that would meet these criteria?
SoCal - From San Diego to LA to Santa Barbara there's a lot of interesting shops in a three hour driving distance. Good live music all around. Go farther north to chill on delicious Highway 1 scenery. Fly into John Wayne on JetBlue - cheap.
Florida - From Coconut Grove to West Palm is a two hour ride with good stores in between. Live music - none that really come to mind. Chill spot is 1 hour south snorkeling / diving at Pennecamp state Park. Fly into Fort Liquordale Airport - nice and small and they speak English, unlike Miami Int.
Texas - Why? What are you thinking?
Best of luck.
Gaudio, I was thinking about a phono cable switch but whatever it is it would have to go through the step-up which has a fixed cable coming out of it anyways.
Slapster, I did part of my schoolin' in the Mile High (if you catch my drift) and it would be good to see if some of the old stores are still around or what the new ones are like. There was also a great jazz dive downtown that we frequented regularly but curiously I don't remember its name.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all down there.