Is there a Northern and Southern California Sound

Hi everyone,
I've been slowly making the rounds of LA stereo shops. Before this I was in the San Francisco bay area.

Ages ago, speakers were divided into two camps: East Coast and West Coast sound.

East coast was Audio Research, Boston Acoustics, KLH, etc. West coast was Altec, JBL.

After listening and thinking about it I am wondering if there is a preference for sound quality in northern Caslifornia vs. Southern california?

I got to hear systems in the north at Magico, Music Lovers and Audio Visions. Here in the South I've heard a couple of places, and I found the sound harder and brighter.

Of course, this is a small sample, and all electronics were different, but I'm wondering, has anyone else heard the same?
I prefer the Wizard of Hanford....Mid California Vandersteen!!!

maybe go to Sunnys ( Covina ), Optimal Enchantment ( Santa Monica ), Brooks Berdan ( Monrovia ), Stereo Unlimited ( San Diego ), Alma also SD.
IF you get down here Eric, come visit in Carlsbad, hear my Treo...putting a Triplaner on my Basis, so bring some vinyl...
I'm going to say no? I'm located in Northern California but am using equipment from Northern California, Southern California, Canada, France, the UK, Japan, China, Germany, ...
Thats only in your mind  as there is no such thing.However speakers from Brooklyn and the Bronx have different sounds.
You know, I don't think this is about where the speakers are made, but I've sensed a trend in dealer preferences.

Could be just me.


When I got into advanced hi-fi, planars were the only serious choice. David Fletcher (co-founder of SOTA, and designer of the Sumiko MDC-800, "The Arm") was selling the Canadian-made Dayton-Wright ESL’s in his Berkeley shop, Walter Davies (now LAST Record Care Products) was selling Magneplanar Tympani’s in Livermore, and Sound Systems in Palo Alto the Infinity Servo-Statics.

When I moved south, Brooks Berdan had the Eminent Technology LFT’s and Quads, and Martin Logans and Maggies were in a few stores. But as dynamic designs starting getting real good (Richard Vandersteen being a primary and hugely influential designer), planars started to fade. They require a lot of room, and the younger buyers with big incomes like speakers that "rock" more than do planars.

When dealers found out how much money they could make selling, oh, I don’t know, say Wilson speakers (;-), the writing was on the wall.

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Queens of the Stone Age. Chili peppers. SoCal. 
The mother hips, ty seagul, the Brian Johnstown massacre. NorCal. Very different indeed. 
Great music and hardware come from California. 

The Byrds, silly. Even better than they are given credit for. The sound Tom Petty was chasing.
I prefer the Midwest sound.
To me Brooks Berdan has great acoustics and the best sound with 
Spendor and Magico. The manager there knows sound and is very helpful.

Music Lovers has Sonus Faber and people like Hugh that 
hear more than I ever will. 

Those are my preferences. Hard and bright don't work with
my ears anymore. That's a young mans game.

Others opinions?

BB is a very nice store indeed.

Sadly they were not set up for my current needs (home theater) but they are a very nice store and one I'd recommend.

Brooks’ son Brian (who ran Brooks Berdan Ltd. as Brooks’ health declined) now has his own shop, Audio Elements, in nearby Pasadena. Audiogon contributor folkfreak (who has had me over at his place in Portland to hear his super-fine system) has been one of his clients for years, at both BBL and AE.

Brooks was my main man, starting way back in the mid-80’s. I started accompanying him to the Vegas CES in the late-90’s. His wife Sheila (who now runs BBL) had me put together a band to play at Brooks’ 50th birthday party, at which he got up on my drumset and played "Wipe Out" with the band. Happiest I ever saw him! His death was a huge loss to the SoCal audiophile community.

The Brooks Berdan big demo room is excellent acoustically. I had a tremendous demo of the Magic A3 in that room. The guys working there were also rather nice to deal with.
The Brooks Berdan big demo room is excellent acoustically. I had a tremendous demo of the Magic A3 in that room. The guys working there were also rather nice to deal with.

Super nice people, and I couldn't stand to listen to the A3's with vocals.



@erik_squires  Interesting take on the A3. I heard them with the Mark Levinson gear and I thought it was rather good. Not the best but for the size and the application I was looking to use them they were the top contender. They have now been surpassed by the Paradigm Persona 3F for this purpose.

Different ears I guess.
Different ears I guess.

Most likely. I was really glad to listen to that and the McIntosh stand mounts but since I never buy speakers I didn't want to impose on their time for very long. 
I was there because they were one of the only Anthem dealers in the area who were not exclusively custom installers.


There may have been some of that decades ago back when JBL was known for being the studio monitor speaker, at least in California. For a long time now though its been pretty much down to individual dealers. 

Here in the Seattle area the high-end dealer for years Definitive Audio has subjected its customers to the most harshly sterile analytical experience imaginable. Used to be Mark Levinson, now other stuff even worse if you can imagine that, just the other day I was in there and subjected to well over $600k worth of auditory insult. Right across the street however people with real world amounts of money to spend can buy all kinds of nice sounding gear at Hawthorne. Up until Stewart Marcantoni retired a few years ago we had Weekend Environments, which in case anyone wonders just how awful Definitive really was Stewart sold literally dozens of systems to people who ditched all their Levinson door stops for real music systems from Stewart, even though they had to make an appointment and take a ferry across the Sound to see him.

For years I went up and down the I-5 corridor, from north of Seattle to Portland, never did notice anything like a regional sound, not even any consistent dealer sound really. Except for Definitive. What I did notice though is dealers carry different brands. The one with Naim is gonna sound like Naim. The one with Krell..... hey they were the only one with a McCormack DNA-1, watcha gonna do? 

There is indeed a SoCal sound. But it is to be found in the music recorded there, a whole different thing.