Kevin gets the

Both Stereophile and Absolute Sound review Prima Luna's integrated at the same time...did Kevin threaten to pull his full page ads or else? Don't get me wrong, I have purchased many a tube etc. from Kevin over the years, and he has always been courteous and quite helpful... But this is a perfect example how the world has always worked , and as much as the Internet makes me crazy at times I'm grateful for the free exchange of opinions we still have on sites like Audiogon etc.
I saw both of those reviews and sort of thought the same thing, and Tellig even said he gets all his tubes from Deal. I say buy a Jolida and save a couple grand (!). Disclaimer: I like Jolida, own a 502P, and have talked to everybody at Jolida MD at least twice for almost no reason...they don't update their website, don't run adds anywhere I've seen (except for the United Home Audio tape decks), and (except for a semi recent FX10 review) are utterly ignored by reviewers, except when somebody notes 'em at a show someplace. Makes no sense, but that's that.
The timing of the two reviews at competing sites sure seems peculiar.

he has always been courteous and quite helpful...
Always? Years ago then, I must have phoned him on a bad day. I never forget my impression of dealers.
I'm grateful for the free exchange of opinions we still have on sites like Audiogon etc.
No offense, but not quite an accurate statement.
I bought a used Primaluna and he always was nice to me answering questions on the phone. I bought some tubes from him and had some bad ones and he quickly sent replacements
Goldenear1948, it seems as if you are starting to figure out who's behind the curtain. Kevin is not alone back there, the glossy rags have served their masters (advertisers) well for decades now.

All of the reviewers today remind me of Julian Hirsch's writing in Stereo Review in the 70's and 80's. "Of all of the speakers that I have listened to in the last 20 years, these XXXX speakers are certainly one of them." LOL!!!
Based solely on my experience with their tubes; the quality, testing procedures, knowledge base and customer service, of Upscale, are second to none. Kevin's attitude, at times, less so. Whether he has the juice, via his many ad $$$, to coerce TAS? Can't say/hope not. They HAVE reviewed most of what PrimaLuna has built in the past, though.
I like the Prima Luna stuff I have heard, no contrary opinions from me on the reviews, but it does seem odd, the timing.

On Upscale, I have had 75% positive experiences. I called for something else and was talked into buying a Cary Audio SLP 98P F-1, with all of the bells and whistles. I got a great deal, and I'm sure he was glad to get it off of the shelf. When it came there was a serious problem (which turned out to have an easy fix), and he got me on the phone with Cary Audio and got the unit shipped to them and fixed in a hurry. That is one of my all time favorite sounding pieces, and it's still in my system. I have referred several other Non-Audiophile friends to Upscale as well, and all were treated well, and have very positive experiences.

But, when I was doing some tube rolling, and bought some expensive tubes from Upscale, that did not meet the described sound. I was left just SOL, with no return. I had to sell them myself, and took a not insignificant loss. I don't buy tubes from them anymore.
Mr M- Had those tubes been defective; they would, no doubt, have been replaced. I could be wrong, but- I don't believe any tube vendors offer a return, based on customer's tastes, or the way the tubes(NOS or new, anyway) sound in their system. At least; I've never heard of one. The tubes would then have to be sold as, "used." Vendors would not stay in business for very long, if they had that policy.
Kevin was nice on the phone when I called for tube info once...and I don't criticize his good fortune in "review land" or Primaluna gear in is merely worth being Ever Vigilant and an both an opportunity for smarmy self righteousness and another plug for Jolida.
Back to the OP's question. I doubt that Kevin threatened to pull advertising.

The PrimaLuna amps have gotten great reviews from just about everyone. I don't think it odd that both magazines would review PrimaLuna's latest.

I think it has been clear since I started reading these magazines that they review certain brands more than others. As long as you understand that you are getting an opinion in reviews, not God given truth, you'll be OK.

I am not sure your motivations for this thread, but your implication that Kevin at Upscale Audio is not ethical needs some evidence to back that claim up. Otherwise, it is slander. Let's stay away from irresponsible accusations shall we?

For the record, Kevin and the other folks at Upscale Audio have been more than helpful when I purchased from them.
When looking for speakers(18 months ago) Upscale had NOS Opera speakers discounted. I was interested in the NIB Seconda. In my email I asked if they were firm on the price, the reponse was that's a strange question? I had no idea that bartering was strange, offensive? Months later I sent 2 emails regarding modestly priced tubes and never got a response.
It could be serendipity. A couple of units go out for review, reviewers talk, one wants to be first in getting it out, and wouldn't you know, two reviews of the same unit at the same time.

Or, one unit is making the rounds, one reviewer sits on his review due to whatever, and Bob's your uncle.

It had to happen sometime.

All the best,
Stereophile and TAS are more on the up and up than most of the internet review sites, which is where the true sleazebags live.
"I am not sure your motivations for this thread, but your implication that Kevin at Upscale Audio is not ethical needs some evidence to back that claim up. Otherwise, it is slander. Let's stay away from irresponsible accusations shall we?

For the record, Kevin and the other folks at Upscale Audio have been more than helpful when I purchased from them.
Roscoeiii (Threads | Answers | This Thread)"

I'm just curious as to what type of proof would satisfy you? Also, its only fair that you back up your claims with some proof as well.
Well, I am not the one slandering a salesman and company here. However, below is my experience:

But during the course of my interaction there were some hiccups with the unit I bought not having everything included in the box (sealed by the manufacturer and my payment (due to reading my card number over the phone). Kevin was very helpful on both accounts.
In my opinion Kevin can be a bit arrogant and at times acts like he is talking down to you rather then to you but that attitude should fit right in with some audiophiles because they are not operating much different. This again is my opinion and I don't meen to imply that he is dishonest nor involved in poor business practices. I think a class in customer relations could fix this.
I only called Upscale. One time only and talked to Kevin. He was quite rude and conducted himself as a smart ass brat. After we could not agree on a number in which I thought he was way out of line, he kept calling me back with a few dollars off , saying is this how you want to haggle?
He probably needs someone to bring him down to earth, or have his ....beat.

Well, I said I talked to Upscale one time and will never again.

This is the first I am hearing about these "dead tubes" on this thread.

Not sure what the problem was there, but the Upscale website clearly states: "Vacuum tubes are warranted for 90 days against defects, except in cases of abuse, and replaced with like-item only."

Still waiting on any evidence to suggest that Kevin and Upscale isn't ethical.

Let's stay away from these types of claims, along with insinuation and conspiracy theories without having proof to back these up.
YEP! With Kevin; price is a, "No-Fly Zone!" I've only ever dealt with him on octets of power tubes(since 1994). When he was carrying NOS 6550 Sylvanias; his prices were not out of line. Ditto with his new 6550 Winged 'C's. A year ago, I called about an eight year old NOS Clearaudio Sigma Wood(not a highly regarded cart, anyway), for which he was asking close to original list. Very friendly conversation, until I hinted at price flexibility(based on age). Glad I purchased an octet of NOS, 70's, 6550C GE's elsewhere, before that call. But, hey: It IS his business, after all!
At upscale, where is that nice polite lady that sometimes answers the phone. Maybe Kevin should let her handle the phone calls and he could spend his time in the back room packing and shipping and or screwing tubes in the tube tester for the purpose of evaluating and matching.
Kevin needs to hire someone that can provide customer service without an attitude. His people skills aren't very good.
Roscoeiii...Kevin did finally gave me a charge credit after implying that it was my fault ( somehow ) for the dead tubes. Before he gave me the credit, he tried to hustle me into the "deal of a century" on a preamp that he no doubt wanted to unload. I think that the hustle bothered me more than the initial belligerence re: a charge credit. The odd thing is that on several earlier occasions he couldn't have been more helpful and informative.
i have dealt with kevin many times on tubes and trading equipment and his service has always been first class.
At T.H.E. Show in Newport this past weekend, I was admiring Kevin's Ferrari, prominently parked in front of the Hilton every day. He had an excellent two-room exhibit and great sound. Not sure he needs to make any changes.
Over the last ten years I've purchased a ton of tubes, Cary Cd, Prima Luna Monos, SF Cremonas, and a bunch of other stuff from Kevin. He's never been less than 100% straight up with me. I guess that over enough time and enough transactions things are bound to go south somewhere, but IME your odds of satisfaction with Kevin are significantly higher than with most audio retailers.

Not sure if they are still on, but for a long time there were many "reviews" of Kevin's lines that all mentioned Upscale Audio. The funny thing is that the writing style for all of the reviews was identical...same phrases, sentence structure, style, etc. They were like reading an UA add. I do not know they were ghost written, but they sure sounded like it. Hmm.
Drubin.... What does a narcissistic display of a Ferrari have to do with good customer service... I have been in business for forty years and my ego doesn't show up at work.
Drubin-There are many dealers that really care about music, the quality of their products they sell and most importantly their customers(regardless of how much they spend). From my very limited experience with Upscale and the consensus of the comments, Upscale is all about profit. Remember we have the power to put clowns like this out of business. Then the only time Kevin gets near a Ferrari is by parking or washing one!
The point I was trying to make is that he's obviously very successful doing things the way he has been doing them.
How did this turn into a Kevin Deal bashing thread? I was under the impression that the central theme was how advertising controls what is written in glossy rags. Upscale Audio is only one advertiser, they ALL do it!

As for my dealings with Kevin, I will admit that he is not warm and fuzzy, and that his "people skills" may be lacking, but he is an honest and reliable dealer, and they are far and few between.

I was looking to grab one of his closeout SLP-98P F1 earlier this year, and spoke with him on the phone. I wanted a unit that had a custom paint job, but it sold for more than the standard red chassis finish, and I didn't want to pay more. He was not very helpful on the phone, so I just ordered the lesser model from his website. Then he called me and told me that the standard model I ordered from his website was not available with the MC phono option that I ordered, so he offered me the custom painted one that I wanted in the first place at a $500 discount....lower price than the standard finish unit. I took it and I am very happy with the deal.

Meanwhile, a friend of mine also picked up one of the closeout SLP-98 F1 units from Upscale Audio. He has had a lot of problems in just over 2 months with his unit. He shipped it to Cary once for repairs, when he got it back it worked great....for three weeks. Then it screwed up again. He wanted a new unit from Cary, claiming he bought a lemon. Cary was of no assistance. When he told Kevin Deal of this problem, Kevin offered to give him full trade in value towards any other item he offered. My friend gladly jumped on this opportunity. I think that shows tremendous character of Kevin Deal.

So no, he may not have the best people skills in the business, but he is honest and reliable. If I have to chose who I want to do business with, I'd prefer to do business with Kevin Deal over a smooth talking bull-shit artist.
Wow, I am shocked at the ill will here. "Put clowns like this out of business"? C'mon.

I am certainly not seeing "a consensus in the comments" and certainly not a consensus that backs up claims with evidence.

How Kevin decides to conduct his business, price his products or spend his money is up to him. And we can then choose to do business with him or not. Pretty simple.
I have a friend who asked Kevin what Cryo'ed tubes were. Boy, was that a mistake! After a complete talking down to, my friend ( who happens to be a Dr.) was left with such a bad taste in his mouth he took his biz elsewhere. To the tune of buying $50K in gear, LOL.
Kevin may understand tubes, BUT he sure does not understand how to communicate with a customer. I think the several posts above are plenty of proof of this. The question one could ask, is why does he have such a chip on his shoulder?? Attitude adjustment would go a long way. OTOH, IF you are succeeding in spite of yourself, I guess who cares!
Upscale Audio is a successful dealership that obviously has staying power in a volatile industry.

Roscoeii, and others, there is almost never a "consensus" when audiophiles discuss any subject in these or any forums. But, there is an obvious tendency of the owner of Upscale Audio to allow his personality to become somewhat abrasive and less than courteous in his communication style, depending on his mood at the time. I am certain of that. That was my experience, and others have commented here and elsewhere.

There are also plenty of nice guys in audio who get written about frequently in the forums.
I don't get it. Deal offers a good line of products and he stands behind what he sells. Bottom line, that all that really counts. You want warm and fuzzy, ego (yours) enhancing conversations from a merchant don't go there. You want product AND service, and know what you want, check Upscale out.

By contrast I'm the 'proud' owner of 2 amps (not sold by Deal, but made by the same parent company in the same factory under a different brand name/contract), which are still being manufactured. Both experienced identical failures which disabled the units within two weeks of each other. They are out of warranty though. I'm unable to get the warm and fuzzy distributor to either furnish me with the parts needed to repair, nor to take the amps in and fix them himself. Been 3 1/2 months. Lots of alibis, zero follow thru! To use these now I need a boat.

This kind of experience is why I have dealt with Deal in the past and will do so in the future. And yes, I have had a confrontation with him over an internet post I made about one of his products. He subsequently contacted my by phone and apologized for his rather intemperate response.

FWIW, IMHO, most who complain about Deal's conduct can trace this to his conclusion from their conversation that the caller is an uninformed tire kicker who is wasting his time. From all of the recommendations I see in this forum, and others as well, to folks about tubes to call Deal, I assume his phone was ringing off the hook by folks without a clue.

Give it a break, he is a merchant, not your buddy, not your priest, nor your mother.
" What does driving a Ferrari have to do with customer service" Absolutely nothing. I know a dealer that rides a bicycle to work and he will give you better customer service than Deal ever will.
My dealings with Deal were very positive, his is a pro on his products and services. He stays in business to help those that need what he has. How he does that is up to him. He is pretty patient with those that don't just call up to show the breeze. Thanks Kevin. We need more people like Kevin to run other things in society today. He gets the job done and right the first time. His is not warm and fuzzy. He is from what I can tell something more important, honest and very fair. Who wants warm and fuzzy when getting stereo equipment raise your hands. That's what I thought.
Marqmike, Why not respectable and fair?."warm and fuzzy" is a deragatory inference..don't decide what all of us want bully boy.
Wow....what a's a response kiddos.

1. TAS and Stereophile are hardly going to try to print the same review of the same product. They are competitors. Dick Olsher saw the DiaLogue Premium at CES, liked the sound, and asked to review it. FYI...he gave one of our products a review I DIDN'T like (The Mystere PA21, which I use personally and love so much). I think he has a prejudice against Pentode design amps so we didn't stand a chance. Sam Tellig had heard a buzz about the DiaLogue Premium and asked to review it. Most manufacturers beg him for a review. I didn't.

2. Do advertising $$$$ equal reviews? All you have to do is read the smokin' hot reviews of brands nobody has heard of, with zero advertising, that most likely will go out of business and there is your answer. Reviewers seek out the unheard of, and pick what they want to review. I advertise in the print mags because I like them and want them to stay in business, and can afford to do so. Does that mean they treat me nicer? For months Stereophile couldn't even get me a copy of the magazine in a timely manner.

3. Am I a prick? I treat most everybody very well. Not 30 minutes ago a fellow asked me to check my e-mail to look at pictures of tubes he bought off Craigslist and wanted to know how much he should sell them for. FYI I like this guy so tried to help him. But do you know how many guys want me to tell them what to bid on an auction? Or how to fix a damaged shipping or defective product they bought off Audiogon? If your so cool post your phone number here and I will shift some of the burden to you. Goldenear 1948 doesn't give his name and his profile is private. He can say anything he wants and has. (I don't believe his story about a dead tube as I have a reputation for standing behind my products.) This will probably piss people off but most of my time-burning phone calls come from Audiogon which is why we no longer advertise here.

Having said that, a few years ago I had a short fuse as my wife had Multiple Sclerosis and I was working six days a week, fighting with doctors and insurance companies, overseeing four caregivers, trying to beat back death, and wondering why her. She died and that was a hard ride that wasn't clean. So if you were caught in that crossfire I'm sorry.

Let's see...anything else? Expensive cars make you a bad person? I work hard and my business has been successful. I had a Porsche 914 at 18yo and a BMW 2002 at 24. But I got my first REAL W-2 job at 12 years old and nothing was handed to me. Cars are my passion like motorcycles, music, hifi, and my dog. It's just stuff. I wish I would have had a couple kids, but that wasn't possible.
I general, I want every business with whom I trade to do well....very well. Do I want a great deal, yes. Do I want great service, yes. Am I willing to pay extra so that when I have have a problem the business will assist me, absolutely.

Bigger picture, when did it become acceptable to hate on someone who has taken immense risk and been wildly successful? I don't get it. Where were the critics when Kevin was hiking through Europe every year, 20-30 years ago, with his life savings in his pocket buying all the tubes he could find? Wasn't solid state the answer....who would ever need to buy a tube again?

There are many who believe Kevin Deal deserves a great deal of credit for making tube electronics accessible by virtually anyone with a hifi budget. Even though my present system is not from Upscale, I have never been unhappy with a transaction and Kevin has gone above and beyond for me on numerous occassions. Kevin is however the kind of person who appreciates the finer things. Why not? He has no kids to send to college, he is kind to his employees, he appreciates finely made pieces of art.....whether that is hifi gear, fine automobiles, fine mechanical watches, amazing motorcycles or a carefully built tube from a bygone era.

Chill don't think Kevin is a nice guy, then you haven't met the real Kevin.....AND....if you think his advertising makes the difference in him getting a review then what about last month....the month before.....five years ago....10 years ago.....? Your premise that his advertising pressures the magazines to review his gear is laughable. If that were true then he advertises SO MUCH, SO FREQUENTLY that if that logic were applied every product he wanted reviewed would get it. He has achieved enough where he doesnt have to deal in marginal product AND his longevity does give him some credibility doesnt it? Oh well, be jealous of something besides the spoils of free enterprise.
06-03-13: Trelja
"Stereophile and TAS are more on the up and up than most of the internet review sites, which is where the true sleazebags live.”

Then we’re screwed.
I've bought 2 Prima Luna amps and a JL Audio sub from Kevin. I live in Southern California, so I've been to his showroom 3 times. I've spent about 2 hours total in his presence and talked with him on the phone maybe 7 times about a variety of things.

Having said all that, here's where I come out: Kevin isn't for everybody. He's a bit eccentric. His eccentricity doesn't both me, but I could see how it would bother other folks. There is a way to talk with Kevin that works, and a way that doesn't. If you think that's lousy customer service, I'm not going to argue with you.

I will say that, IME, it isn't that difficult to figure out the best way to talk to Kevin, and if you do, I've found him to be cooperative, friendly, and even amusing. I am very happy with the products he sold me and he gave me excellent deals 2 out of 3 times. Also, I had an issue arise concerning a credit card matter (that was not his fault in any way) and he was a gentleman about it. So, IMO, Kevin gets reasonably high marks for customer service.

Yes, he is quirky. Yes, he can be abrupt. But his occasional abruptness is worth the price of admission, IMO.

I respect that other people have different views, and I have no intention of trying to change anyone's mind.

Happy listening.

Bryoncunningham, what an elequent way of stating your point of view, well said. I have reread your post and believe you have offered a reasonable and acceptable answer to Kevin's eccentricity which seems to appear at random with some callers. Thankyou for your post, it has been helpful!
Almost on a regular basis, someone starts a Kevin Deal thread and people come out of the woodwork giving their opinions. Like many other threads on this informative resource, it makes for interesting reading.
Kevin - thank you for jumping in and responding to the praises as well as the slings and arrows. My heart goes out to you for having suffered with your late wife. You are a unique businessman in a difficult industry who has survived and found his own niche. I wish you continued success.

You are A OK! Nothing wrong with a hard working SOB. Thanks for all your help with my used Primaluna.

Nice to see you respond here and sorry that you have been so unfairly treated here by posters' insinuations.

Thanks for all the help that you gave me with my phono preamp.

And can we now kill this thread?
Completely agree with Ghasley, I have nothing but high praise for Mr. Deal. I think some of you folks have an agenda that is less than honest.

The conversation here is despicable. Deal is one of the best audio dealers out there. If you are going to do this to Deal, a good audio dealer, why don't you go after the real assholes in the audio community? I have interacted with audio personnel for over forty years, from NJ, NYC, DC, MD, Chicago, CA, NM and more. Some were great, many more not. Again, Kevin Deal is one of the best.