I do not recall a bad retailer or manufacturer experience. Often the experience is related to unreasonable consumer behavior which is a real problem these days. I have good experiences with TMR, Lamm, Acoustic Frontiers (San Francisco), Purist Audio, Audio Concepts (Dallas).
I've had great experiences dealing with the following amp makers:
Justin Weber - Ampsandsound
Keith Herron - Herron Audio
Craig Ulthus - Eddie Current
Donald North - DNA
All of them are very responsive and great to talk to as well...
Not sure how Upscale Audio fits in the Boutique Amp Speaker Builder category
Dan Wright - Modwright
Lou Hinkley - Daedalus Audio
Frank Ing - Finale Audio
+1 for Modwright Instruments & Daedalus Audio
Steve Nugent-Empirical Audio
Ralph Karsten from AtmaSphere and Duke LeJeune from AudioKinesis come to mind, as does Tom Bourret who reps Sound Lab in northern CA.
We dropped in unannounced, and unexpected, to Dan D'Agostino's manufacturing facility in Cave Creek, Arizona. Although he doesn't know me, he gave me a complete tour of the plant. His products are beautiful, well-made and expensive. When I can afford them, they'll be my first choice.
This is of course limited to purchase history;
John Devore-ask this true gentleman a tedious question like whether vibration control devices are a good idea under his loudspeakers and he gives you an immediate considered response. One example among several.
EveAnna Manley-I can't say that I have received personal responses from her but she has a great team of support staff who give immediate informative responses.
Peter Bizlewicz-if this name does not ring a bell, he is Symposium Acoustics. I really ought to put him at the top of my list because this gem of a guy will share his wealth of knowledge on any audio-related topic regardless of whether it involves his excellent equipment racks. I once mentioned upgrading coupling caps on my ARC amp and he sent me 2000 word explanation of the engineering principles applicable to coupling caps! I own three of his racks and love them.
Ruta Triukiene-I bet few of you know who she is either. I believe she is the wife of Reed designer and to my mind engineering-genius Vidmantas Triukas. She serves as Sales Manager. She is incredibly responsive to questions and if you have ever tried to mount a Reed arm, there will be questions.
I see Justin Weber got mentioned above. I recently bought a customized Nautilus. Not much of a customization but it is powder coated white which I think makes it bitchin'. I would love to serve as editor of his website as an English major/lawyer for his typos drive me nuts but that is besides the point. He is as personable and as down to earth as they come.
I could list some downright snotty people who make damned good stuff too. I have a bespoke tube based DAC from England that cost a fortune and I absolutely love it but the owner and brains behind the operation is a complete arrogant arse.
Not sure how Upscale Audio fits in the Boutique Amp Speaker Builder category
They do not but they helped me with an issue with my Pathos In Pol Heritage ($15K) that I did not even buy from them and they had just assumed the duties as the US Importer. They had my In Pol picked up sent to Italy for repair, sent me a loaner Classic In Pol and did not charge me a dime.
No they are not a Boutique Builder but they are stand up folks.
Was just setting the stage as it is the only time I have had an issue with any equipment( Knock On Wood).
Jim Salk -- Salk Sound
Fritz Heiler - Fritz Speakers
Quicksilver - Mike Sanders
MHDT Audio - Jiun-Hsien
Yep Mike Sanders is a good bloke.
+1 for Ralph Karsten of Atma-Sphere. He has been my Audio Guru.
Has always been there for me to evolve my system to perfection.
I have known some great people in this business but Ralph is the first who sincerely there to help.
I don't know if they qualify as "boutique builders" these days, but I was very impressed with Oppo recently. I was wanting to sell an Oppo BDP83 player, but the disk tray was a little quirky. I contacted Oppo about getting it fixed and although I was the second owner, they replaced the tray, updated the firmware, cleaned it up and delivered it back in all new packaging. I paid only $99 and one way shipping.
Klaus Bunge at Odyssey Audio. I am his NY PITA, but he always treats me with respect and takes whatever time he needs to explain to me his products, and match them to my needs.
Whether it’s a new purchase, an upgrade of a previous purchase, or just BSing about music, Klaus is a class act.
Under promise and over delivers every time.
Michael Kelly at Aerial Acoustics - he answered the call or replied by phone on a few occasions when I had questions on speaker placement and amplifier matches for my Model 8b’s.
The folks at Ayre Acoustics have offered reasonably priced, material product upgrades and have promptly answered questions about the three pieces of their gear I own.
Both of the above manufacturers make durable, very high quality products that have been a pleasure to own.
Not all amps and speakers, but I have gotten great advice and help from the following:
BAT Audio - Victor Khomenko (amp)
Sutherland Engineering - Ron Sutherland (phono)
GEM Dandy Products - George Merrill (turntable design/builder)
Steve Deckert, I’ve found him to be very reasonable and accommodating. His ZMA amp has thrilled me nightly since I got it.
John DeVore, I base this solely on his YouTube channel and my total love for the O 96’s.
Peter Bizlewicz, tremendously helpful several times when we spoke on the phone and his product is top-notch.
Dan at Dedicated Audio is very solid.
Keith Herron is fantastic.
Dave Thompson - Raven Audio
Carl Marchisotto - Nola Loudspeakers
Jim McShane - McShane Design, tube dealer
Stuart Jones of Chapman Audio. His speakers sound amazing and he's gone out of his way be helpful to me more than once - wonderful guy.
I had a great experience with Don Walker, of Don Walker Audio in Grand Junction, CO.
Good advice and ideas and fair prices.
- Steve McCormack and Patrick Jeter at SMc Audio
- Michael Kelly at Aerial Acoustics
- Benjamin Zwickel at Mojo Audio
- Cees Ruijtenberg
at Sonnet Digital Audio (formerly with Metrum Acoustics)
- Arek Kallas at (Khozmo and Hattor)
- Bob Worzalla at Sound Anchors
Keith Herron-HERRON AUDIO
Nelson Pass-PASS LABS
My audio guy out of Edmonton Alberta. Mike Harlow at S&M High Fidelity. I’ve been dealing with Mike for 15 years. He definitely knows his stuff.
I have had very few issues with audio gear and have experienced good service mostly for the exception of some tube issues. I can say for outstanding service that Mark Schneider of Linear Tube Audio has gone the extra mile and is as down to earth as it gets. He is a highly motivated audiophile like me and an asset to our community. Also, Dan Wright is right there withMark with his outstanding service. I can’t say enough good things about these guys and their well thought out products.
Victor Kung at VK Music (Elekit)
The nicest/fastest/most reasonable person to deal with in "Audio"...
among the very best:
+1 Fritz Heiler - Fritz Speakers
+1 John DeVore - DeVore Fidelity
Richard Vandersteen, Mike at HRS, Glenn at Aesthetix, Jonathan Carr at Lyra, Keith at Herron, Donna at SOTA, Tri at Triplaner, list is long…some really fine people…
+1 Mark atLinear Tube Audio
No mention of Peter Ledermann of Soundmith? Surely an oversite.
Tyler at Tyler Acoustics. Bought a pair of PD30’s from him.
Sutherland- Ron Sutherland
Ayre- Brent, Russ, and Ariel
Rogue-Mark and Nick
It it amazing how busy all these people are even when a world wide crisis hits but still make time for the PITA audiophiles like me. Just amazing!
Thanks all. Been some great information here.
Really enjoyed reading something positive about a builder or distributor.
Emmanuel Go; First Sound Audio.
David Belles Belles Amps.......Randy Rusk @ Caintuck audio ( baffle less speakers....Steve Deckert...and Eric Alexander @ Tekton. Also Brian at Sweet Home Audio. (a retailer)
Andy at listen up Boulder Colo.
Jess at Soundings Audio Denver Colo.
I don't know who I talked to at Grado but they got me fixed up right away, replacing a broken part on my headphones - no charge.
I would add Mark O'Brien at Rouge audio to the list of great people in the audio world, always been accessible and helpful.
On the plus side …
+++John Fritz Heiler
+Audio Research — maybe not quite boutique
On the not so plus side …
I didn’t have a good experience with Quicksilver. Not terrible, but not positive either.
A friend had a horrible experience with Wolf Audio.
Upscale Audio is hit or miss depending on who picks up the phone.
I've had a positive experience with each of these fine gentlemen:
Steve Deckert (Decware)
Klaus Bunge (Odyssey)
Louis Chochos (Omega)
John Strohbeen (Ohm)
Jesus Rodriguez (Sonore)
@tonykay, I would not do that if I were you. I can give you a Dan D'Agostino story that will put your hair on end. He could not care less about his customers.
@arafiq + 1 on Fritz Heiler!! Hung out with Fritz at my place for about 3 hours when he brought by a pair of Carrera speakers for me a couple of months ago - great dude - Fritz rocks!
Thanks for the heads up. While I don’t really know Dan, my comment was about someone who would introduce me to his wife, and even his dog, and then give me a guided tour of his facility on a weekend when they weren’t even open for business. I have not seen anything nefarious about him but I admire the appearance and perceived quality of his products. If you have a story to share, there’s no need for a new thread but feel free to send me a message.
Just to name a few really terrific guys that are always helpful:
Joe at JPS/Abyss
Brian at Cardas
Mark and Nick at Rogue
Peter Lederman at Soundsmith
Kevin Hayes at VAC
Joe Parvey at Wolf Audio
Peter at Symposium
Donna at STOA
Bob at Backert Labs
Joe at JPS/Abyss
Oh yeah. When I got back into audio in about 1995 after a hiatus I bought a pair of B&W 805 Matrixes. Joe made a product called "Golden Flutes" that were powered equalizers to boost the bass response specifically made for just this loudspeaker. I called JPS and to ask some questions and got Joe. Joe mentioned the one downside to his Golden Flutes would be needing an additional set of IC's. I whined about already being beyond budget buying the Golden Flutes. Joe responded, "I see. I will throw in a set of my IC's". They were a set of his better IC's where the signal cable was inside a flexible goosenecked copper tube making them a bit unwieldy but damn they were miles better than any IC's I had at the time. I still have the 805M's and the Golden Flutes waiting for a second system set-up or to go to one of my sons. I will always remember (well maybe not since I did not mention him above) his kindness.