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Old 09-28-2007   #1
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Unhappy Is HiFi Dead?

A local shop closed it's doors, not unheard of in this field, but it is the second audio based shop to close in the last couple years. This leaves me the local BB/CC and only two other shops. It seems that many local brick and mortar stores are having financial trouble and moving into HT (not a bad thing in my eye) or closing down the store to be 'consultants'.

Well, I wanted to see what they were closing out, and as they were a store known for tubes and analog, figured this would be a great time to dive into the TT I have considered for years. Well, even on their last legs, they were offering poor deals. Several CJ amps were priced at 10-20% off. Mind you, all the gear being sold were demo's. The turntables they were selling were less than 1/3 off. When I asked what the price was for the one I was interested in, the girl at the desk (she never bothered to get up as I visited three sound rooms) told me the price was marked, and it is only good for today as this is the final day.

Hhhhhmmmmmm....

She did call the owner as I saw a box for a Music Hall MMF 7 in the storeroom and wanted to know the price. The box was empty (I hadn’t checked that!) and I could hear him say they had an MMF 5 and MMF 2.1 and the price for them was marked! Sorry guys, a spending fool like me isn't buying your demo's on the final day in your store for that price....

Well, I left empty handed and feeling sorry for them, sort of, and much more concerned for the future of the industry. Am I unreasonable?? I would have thought on the last day you’d want to sell gear, yet the prices they were offering, many weren’t realistic for an open shop much less one closing THAT DAY!
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Old 09-28-2007   #2
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Default Re: Is HiFi Dead?

I don't think hi-fi is dead, however, snobby hifi shops are. I still think there is a need for brick and mortar stores, but not if they make the experience of buying/enjoying the gear such that you don't want to visit them. A local place by me when I lived in Pasadena thrived as other stores shut down. This store NEVER discounted, but you could spend a whole day in there without anyone bothering you to buy anything. They loaned out products for in home auditions and truly LOVED what they did. Hell, half the time I went in there they were rocking out to something crazy and more often than not I had to invite myself in to join them because they were to busy having FUN. Needless to say, they sold more gear and truly high end stuff than anyone because people could go there and chill, talk shop, and just relax with like minded people. It was like a comic book store, but for grown ups. I loved it, and they are still the only high end dealer in Pasadena that I know of.

Some dealers just need to get over themselves and embrace a little change and actually spend a little more time listening rather than selling.

The best demo, to this day was my first trip to a Bang and Olufsen store. I went in, and the guy did the usuall "how are you doing..." then I asked to play a CD. He handed me the remote, hit power then WALKED AWAY! He left me in their best sound room to play until my heart's content. He returned 20 minutes later and asked me what color. I would've purchased them on the spot, the only problem was I was a bit low on funds (this was during my college years) however, I returned with a friend who wasn't low on funds. He got the same treatment and went home with a pair of speakers in silver. Had 'em for years and loved every minute of it.

That's a demo.
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Old 10-03-2007   #3
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Default Re: Is HiFi Dead?

I don't think it is dead either. I think it just went underground a little. It will make a comeback once the old-timers find I way to reach the younger generation through the internet.
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Old 10-03-2007   #4
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Default Re: Is HiFi Dead?

Ask Harry Senterian of SoundEx fame if its dead. He built a 26 room place of 2 channel audio with acoustical treatments and the world's finest gear from Wilson, Levinson, Krell, Transparent and many others. Now it is an insurance office.

Ask Christopher Hansen who saw the writing on the wall in the early 1990's and closed his store to get into custom audio if hifi is dead?

Even Andy Singer is the top selling Runco dealer in NY with strong sales in their plasma HDTVs - that's not HiFI although Singer still sells a lot of audiophile gear.

Ask David Weinhardt, the last LA based hifi dealer on the westside, if HIFI is dead. His Ambrosia business was bought out by a custom install firm and he sells hifi from his house.

The only place HIFI lives is on audiogon.com where people sell the same used gear over and over again. Hifi isn't a business, its a hobby. Home Theater is a business that can encompass audiophile concepts in a package that consumers really want.

Also look to blame the music industry for not releasing their music in a new format (other than MP3 downloads) in over 25 years. Why buy HIFI or audiophile gear when the music sounds crappy on CD?
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Old 10-03-2007   #5
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Default Re: Is HiFi Dead?

I think people want home theater first and would like that same gear to serve the purpose of 2-channel and surround sound. I myself, invested in the Anthem products for that very reason. Very good 2-channel sound as well as my home theater needs. HiFi isn't dead, it just needs to be sold into the whole package. The problem is no local dealers. I had to go a long way to get what I wanted. Direct internet sales is the answer. Protect the areas that have dealers, but everyone else needs a way to order.

It's also hard to justify, to the average Joe, the price difference between BB/CC and a stand alone HiFi store. Especially lately with poor customer service at most places.
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Old 10-03-2007   #6
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Default Re: Is HiFi Dead?

J.J.

I think you are right, HT is the guiding principle. I went to a two channel analog store and was full on ready to drop cash (I would have gone to $1-2K if the deal was good) for a turntable. Instead what I got was an offer to buy a TT for 1/3 off retail????

Sorry, that should be for any good customer, not someone there on the LAST DAY your shop is open.....
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