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Future of audio equipment dealers


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Since this topic came up on other thread and it’s one of the aspects about this hobby that is near and dear to my heart, I decided to start this conversation. 
 

It appears that the last decade has seen a lot of great dealers across the country either scale back or completely get out. I attribute a lot of my interest and knowledge to these very institutions that were gracious enough not only to entertain me repeatedly but also educate me on the nuances of this hobby.

It’s hard to determine whether it’s the current generation that seems to be obsessed with portable and at times poor quality audio OR if it’s the affordability aspect of the high end equipment that’s coming out in the market.

I am a parent of a 16 and 10 year old and they both are ruthlessly vocal when they hear songs being played on poor equipment and have the ears to discern the differences.. However, I don’t see them developing an interest rate n audio equipment that is intense enough to spend time and money when they grow up.

On the flip side, the songs that this generation is listening to is not catered towards the kind of equipment that we are obsessed with.

 

I started the San Diego Audiophile meetup thinking I would get the younger generation interested in this endeavor enough to get a boost to this hobby but looking at the members it seems that the younger generation is spending their time elsewhere...

It would be gretto het some perspective from other folks and understand if this is localized to specific geography or if the decline is across the board.

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From my narrow perspective, it is across the board.  The dealer that introduced me to true high-end was Haven's and Hardesty in Huntington Beach, CA.  I can think of at least three other dealers in my area that are now gone.  I couldn't agree more with your second paragraph. I too was educated by Richard Hardesty and Bob Altenbern; not only on the fundamentals, but more importantly, how and what to listen for.  

Yes, I also agree that the majority of music this generation is listening to is of a sub-standard recording technique; hence the lack of interest in high end gear.

I think convenience is by far the biggest factor with our youth, and the internet has also altered the landscape. 

There just aren't that many Johnny Rutan's left in this world.  I hope we all support the brick n mortar shops as much as possible.

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I'm with you guys.  It's very sad for me.  I think the hobby will still stay aobut the same size as it is now.  There are always folks who wants and can afford good to great sound.  It's all about do they want to.  That's up to the manufactures.  They must give folks what they want.  I think many want ease of use, quality, smaller sizes etc...  They like things online and that's why forums are fun.  Online marketing is the most important thing.  I see many dealers using AG and smaller forums to drum up business.  I have no issues there, but I do when they are douches' towards others who call them out for disagreeing with them etc... 

I had my run in with a dealer (out of his house) in NJ and I'm not the only one.  Some dealers try to sell to folks out of their territory and that hurts the business.  Pricing is the same things.  Folks all want to know they didn't overpay.  This is what I love about the Vandy dealers, they can't take a dime off the speakers, but they can offer the savings in cables and cords as well as electronics when someone buys a full system.  

That's what some of hte problems seem to be to me, but there is so much great that you get out of dealers.  It's the visceral approach. You can use all your senses when looking fo gear.  It's entertaining.  It's enlightening.  Just so many great things when you get to know your dealer and they can help you craft what you want.  Vandy fans mostly seem to know what htey are hearing in a time and phase correct speaker.  We hear seamless integration of drivers etc...  We buck the trend of the flavor of the month club. We don't deal with dealers who call you every few months to try and move you into different gear.  

I wonder where this thread will go.

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I must admit guilt in that I have used my dealer -John Rutan/Audioconnection- for getting information about new equipment or equipment that will make my Vandy's sing, but didn't buy from him directly.

To be honest, I could never have afforded buying my equipment new.

My one ability is to put his name out on audio forums that he is a guy to be trusted/listened to.

bob

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My relationship with John Rutan is unique.  I'm in Southern California; he's in New Jersey.  I first came in contact with John by bidding on a used preamp he had listed.  I failed to realize it was a line stage, and I was looking for a preamp that included a phono section.  Already committed to purchase, he left me a message to call him.  When I explained my mistake, he couldn't have been more gracious.  His words were something like, "oh don't worry, we want you to get what you want."

Fast forward a couple of years and a rare listing of a "previously owned" pair of Quatros hits the press.  Turns out, it was one of John's customers selling them.  There were a few details to be worked out, not the least of which was the seller did not have a complete set of cartons.  John facilitated the entire transaction like I was purchasing them from him, and charged me a very minimal fee.  Since then, he and I have had numerous phone conversations, some in excess of 30 minutes.  On one occasion, I had left him a voicemail.  It was a little after 10pm Pacific and I was getting ready for bed.  He rings me up, "hey Steve, sorry it took so long to get back to you, I just left Ornette Coleman's bass player's house, setting up a pair of 5A Carbons"  ....... 10pm my time!

I realize this is beginning to sound like an Audio Connection commercial, but I can't praise John Rutan enough.   Someday, I'll get to meet him in person!

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It's who he is guys.  You really should try to get out to see him.  Great food in Verona, NJ.  My cousin lives two streets over, lol.  I remember that transaction Steve, lol.  That's too funny.  I've also been blessed to meet Billy Drummond through Johnny.  We keep in contact.  Great guy and what a percussionist.  Johnny has a ton of. musicians as clients, because they have great ears and gravitate to Vandersteen's.  Commercials are ok Steve. :). 

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On 1/21/2021 at 7:07 PM, stratocaster said:

Since this topic came up on other thread and it’s one of the aspects about this hobby that is near and dear to my heart, I decided to start this conversation. 
 

It appears that the last decade has seen a lot of great dealers across the country either scale back or completely get out. I attribute a lot of my interest and knowledge to these very institutions that were gracious enough not only to entertain me repeatedly but also educate me on the nuances of this hobby.

It’s hard to determine whether it’s the current generation that seems to be obsessed with portable and at times poor quality audio OR if it’s the affordability aspect of the high end equipment that’s coming out in the market.

I am a parent of a 16 and 10 year old and they both are ruthlessly vocal when they hear songs being played on poor equipment and have the ears to discern the differences.. However, I don’t see them developing an interest rate n audio equipment that is intense enough to spend time and money when they grow up.

On the flip side, the songs that this generation is listening to is not catered towards the kind of equipment that we are obsessed with.

 

I started the San Diego Audiophile meetup thinking I would get the younger generation interested in this endeavor enough to get a boost to this hobby but looking at the members it seems that the younger generation is spending their time elsewhere...

It would be gretto het some perspective from other folks and understand if this is localized to specific geography or if the decline is across the board.

Hello All,

I read this with great interest as I have been at this for 45 years now.  It is important to understand that this hobbie has always been for few people!  The definition of Specialy anything  "Is  Few People Care" enough to spend the time, money and energy on any passion.  This is true  with cars, cameras, wine, furniture, etc. because for most people it is easily "Good Enough".  There are less dealers today because the cost of doing business has gone up logarithmically especialy rent.  Audio enthusiasts can get in contact with each other to trade and sell gear on the internet and even get some advice, although it usually is worth what you paid for it.  I belive the industry is about the same size  as it ever was but because of before mentioned reasons the equipment trades diferentlly .  When I started everybody had some kind of stereo because that was our only source for music but today many  use computers or phones.  Back then it was just as esoteric to want to push the performance envelope.  Never fear our hobbie is not dying and we are not crazy!

RV

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Richard, I have to disagree with your last sentence.

Thanks for your take. It's exactly what most shop owners are also saying.  I"ve personally been able to move up in all lines, because I can easily sell on the net.  In years past, I had to place ads etc adn it was a pain to sell things.

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I concur with Mr. V.

When I was starting out in the early '80's. Everyone thought spending money on stereo equipment was a waste of money-Though they did appreciate listening to my systems.

Horses for courses, I suppose.

I also agree that the internet has made buying and selling equipment much easier -And, much fairer with regards to resale prices.

In fact, I never could have afforded the equipment I am using if it weren't for HifiShark, Audiogon, and USAM. Though I  should mention I never would have known what to buy if it weren't for John Rutan. In fact, if I had listened to him completely, I would have saved many thousands of dollars.

Bob

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  • 2 weeks later...

I started  appreciating high end audio at age 4. A big truck showed up at my parents house and unloaded a Dual Idler drive w Shure, McIntosh tuner / pre and 240....Bozaks, half a concert grand. They had no furniture except busted antiques from the attic, leftovers from dead relatives..no carpet. A wall piano, coronet, trumpet, acordian..... music WAS the esoteric priority...

 

Spent a good chunk of my youth and young adulthood selling high end gear.....

 

Patronize those Vandy dealers, Johnny, Alan, Bob, Victor, Bruce, Randy, Sunil, etc.....i have met many of them, get ti know them as people, imperfect but passionate about music and especially the magic of Vandersteens, since 1977.

 

best

 

jim

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