John Ruttan @ Audio Connection in Verona,New Jersey always goes the extra mile.The store offers a huge variety of audio products @ all price points.I've upgraded products with him for over 20 years and have always felt I was given a fair deal.A brief example is when I was having difficulty setting up my Vandersteen 5's in my home not only did he come to my home to adjust them but called Richard Vandersteen to see if he could add any imput on enhancing the sound.Highly Recommended!!!!
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I had some bad experiences at several dealers in my younger years - 25 plus years ago. My former neighbor owned a stereo shop for 40 plus years. One day while chatting on his patio he explained his entire business model. His product offerings were influenced by what other dealers were selling, plus what profit margin he could leverage from a given product line, and finally the quality of dealer/customer support provided by said company. After all it is a business above all else. So, I realized the advice and products I was getting from any dealer is most likely not unbiased or in my best interest.
So, I stopped going to dealers and focused my questions, research, sales, and purchases to the internet. It forced me to do more research on my own and as a result have acquired more knowledge. Finally, I've become good friends with several audio nuts (through transactions) which is priceless
I never let a "dealer" influence my audio hobby. A dealer usually has an agenda to lead one to what is most profitable, regardless of sound quality. The best influences were other audiophools who have been around a while and offered up some very good advice.
Brian @ Aaudio Imports is one of the good guy dealers! He doesn't carry junk and his product line stays consistent. His entry level is high end if your wallet can handle it, his higher end products are performance related to the cost.
Tim Ryan at Simplifi Audio has a very good product line, that offers high end quality sound at midfi prices.
Tim Kroll of Shelby + Kroll makes a great product, and is like an encyclopedia of audio knowledge.
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they showed me over the years that a good kind of deafness / ignorance is absolutely normal. No matter how awful something sounds, when the profit range is right, it is absolutely great.
Bob Neil of Amherst Audio influenced me to get JMR speakers which has been one of my best purchases. I wish he would get back into hardware reviews and cover some affordable gear.
Tim Nguyen of Tone of Music talked me out of a new turntable and said I just needed to upgrade the phono stage. He was right!
In the end, it is all about the dealer/distributor creating 'value' for the customer. Only when that is done does the dealer have the right business model, that is sustainable. Value depends on the customer, some want service, some a low price, others a 'relationship'. Years ago, when I was in the financial services business, we found that customers wanted an account executive who 'cares' as the number one factor in their doing business with the firm. Making money was number two. Today, value still does not mean the lowest price.
I agree with Mred! John Rutan has always gone way beyond the call of duty to help myself and every customer. He loves audio and music as much as the rest of us audio geeks. Audio Connection in Verona N.J. has no-nonsense brands and is a great place to go and actually learn about this hobby. With 3 systems, all put together with John's guidance, I couldn't be happier. I've met a lot of like minded people there who've become great friends, which include John and the rest of the gang at Audio Connection.Check out John @ Audio Connection in Verona N.J.
Sound World, Appleton, Wisconsin. While waiting for them to bring my repaired mid-fi amp out, I was casually looking over their best system. One of the salesmen came into the room and asked a couple questions, then I told him I was there just to pick up my amp. I think he figured out that I wasn't real keen to this hi-end stuff. He then asked me to have a seat where he pulled up a chair into the sweet spot. Once the music started, there was no looking back. I got the biggest rush that engulfed my whole being.
He knew I wasn't going to purchase anything but was kind enough to let me listen to an excellent system for a brief period of time. I believe the majority of salesman wouldn't have wasted their time with me. This small gesture changed my life and I'm very thankful for that. BIG influence!
Brian Berdan of Audio Elements in Pasadena has been extremely helpful to me, and is providing outstanding customer service, always going above and beyond. Alma Audio in San Diego also great, he drove up for an in home demo of Innuous Server demo, which I unfortunately did not purchase. I appreciate dealers who try to be honest, and carry brands they believe in. Fairness and accessibility also go a long way with me.
A+++++ Also for big John Rutan at Audio Connection. Have first started dealing with him in about 1990 with my first high end system which was a Counterpoint sa 220 and sa 1000 Line stage pre. Then a few months ago he went over and beyond the call of duty with my ARC Ref 6. It was like seeing an old friend and reminiscing from all the years back then. Great guy !
I live near a couple of relatively well regarded "audio salons" that have proven time and again that although sometimes friendly (sometimes !), they're utterly useless for anybody who isn't already just handing over large cash with no questions asked. Very few employees have inter-human listening skills beyond that which may be expected from a basset hound, which is weird because if they were paying attention they'd have sold more things to me and I assume many others. No mailing lists to announce manufacturer's visits, no interest in actual music (ask most salespeople about nearby concerts and you'll generally get a blank stare), no clue beyond their tiny world (need a Linn belt? uh...not sure where you can get those...uh...). That's what has inspired me to think of those dealers as candy stores for a privileged few, and although I could personally afford whatever they're selling, I simply cannot afford to waste much time with knuckleheads.
Back in the late 80’s/90’s there were two gentlemen working as salesmen at the original Stereo Exchange in NYC who were very influential. One was Wes Phillips, later of Stereophile reviewer fame. RIP, Wes. The other was George Stanwick, later of Stanalog Imports. I spent countless hours hanging out in that cavernous loft space listening to music and talking gear. A very relaxed place where I experienced no pressure to buy and the only two salespersons I have met who truly cared about the music as much or more than the gear. Wes, in particular, was extremely knowledgeable about music and musicians. I would often go home with equipment loans including phono cartridges (!). I still own the VDH MC1 that George loaned me before I bought it and which has been retipped three times since.
I won't mention the retailers or the salespeople but two in particular influenced me by the awful experiences I had. These stories made me despise audio retailers and ultimately start my own speaker company.
The first guy reminded me of comic-book guy from the Simpsons both in aesthetics and his mannerisms. He mocked me for not knowing as much about DACs as he did. I foolishly asked about the relevance of Burr Brown vs. ESS chips. He then tried to sell me a $4000 integrated amp for a $500 pair of speakers and mocked me when I didn't want to spend that much. That store and that salesperson embodied most of what is wrong with this hobby.
Second one offers the other side of what is wrong IMO. I was auditioning a popular pair of very expensive >$5K stand mounted speakers. They sounded bad with all the music I was picking but great with the very esoteric tracks the sales rep was suggesting. When I asked him why that was the case, his comment was "because the music you listen too sucks."
I found the first people to be exclusionary to a point where if you don't study and know as much as they do, you must bow down and accept the wisdom of the all knowing audiophile. Who wants to be part of that hobby? Second, I have to change what music I listen too to have an extraordinary listening experience. That is also not a hobby i want to be part of.
These two reps and others like them made me want question whether I even wanted to bother with equipment anymore. Sales people are there to help consumers pick out products that solve the problems they have. Not mock them. And you should be able to listen to your music on your system and have an extraordinary listening experience. If not, why are we doing this?