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Dealer Spotlight: Sonic Culture, San Diego CA  Print E-mail
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Written by Andre Marc   
Monday, 10 May 2010
Article Index
Dealer Spotlight: Sonic Culture, San Diego CA 
Continued

Sonic Culture is high performance audio component dealer located in central San Diego.  They have been serving local music lovers and audiophiles for over 11 years now with personalized service, comfortable listening rooms, and a varied, carefully chosen line of products. These include Harbeth, Tannoy, Pathos, J.A. Michell Analogue, Manley Labs, Abbington Music Research (AMR), Art Audio, Peachtree Audio, Resolution Audio, Micromega, and many more distinguished brands.  I spoke with John Barker, the laid back proprietor of Sonic Culture to ask about his business philosophy, background, and what kind of services he provides to his clientele. We also spoke about current trends in the industry.

AVRev:

Can you tell me how you got into the business as a high performance audio component dealer and a bit about your own background?

John Barker:

Sonic CultureMusic has always been an important part of my life and interest.  I went to as many live shows as my parents would allow me to when I was a kid.  I remember the first LPs I bought; my first guitar and the tracks my friends and I would play together.  Music has an amazing way of creating a mood, moment and atmosphere that leaves a lasting impression.  My equipment was generally modest for many years but I continued to push the envelope of my budget to get the most performance and reward out of the systems I owned.  It was a challenge, at times, but always a rewarding pursuit.  For love of the game and the enthusiasm to share my musical interest with others, I decided to start the business.  After reviewing a list of potential business names with friends and family, the consensus seemed to agree that Sonic Culture was the most appropriate and conveyed our sense of community sharing a common interest in sound. The company was officially founded in 1999.  We established relationships with a number of our favorite vendors and built up a respectable inventory of demonstration equipment and stock.  The business grew almost entirely through customer and manufacturer referrals.

AVRev:

Can you tell me how you go about choosing which product brands to carry among so many high end manufacturers?

John Barker:

In order to promote and recommend a product honestly, you have to believe in it first.  It’s easy to get caught up in the "flavor or the month", heavy marketing campaigns and press but ultimately you have to trust your own ears.  Performance, diversity, value and reliability are key when identifying product lines for representation.  Every component should satisfy a need and application and have support from stable and responsive manufacturers.  We pursue system synergies and strive for neutral, uncolored presentations. We represent manufacturers from all over the globe, the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, etc.  Each manufacturer represents high performance in their respective class and a unique approach and design philosophy.
 
This is a very interesting time in our industry.  The computer and technological revolution continues to evolve; including the way in which music is stored, accessed and played back.  For the traditional audiophile (with vast collections of both analog and digital recordings) the thought of sourcing music from a computer is alarming and a perceived compromise.  These technologies will continue to imbed themselves deeper into our industry.  Traditional playback and modern playback options can peacefully co-exist.  “Crossover” products continue to find their way into the market.  We have been giving more attention to this area of the industry recently and focusing on products that represent progressive performance, flexibility application and strong value.  We expect this sector of the industry to continue to evolve rapidly.  Our philosophy is to embrace it conservatively without investing too heavily in technology that is certain to change and further improve.
 
Manufacturers are trying to find the right balance between ease of use, performance and affordability.  We have component options for customers that take advantage of computer stored music and traditional playback without compromise and enhanced utility.  We're trying to bridge that gap without getting too far ahead of ourselves or recommending a technology or approach prematurely.  Two particular products that have impressed us and our customers immensely include the Peachtree Audio iDecco (link) and the Micromega Airstream (link).




 

 
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