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busb's picture
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A big thank you to Dominic of StudioAV, Eton & about dealers in general
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Popped in a month ago - asking about suitable replacements for my Totem Arros - they suggested I listened to the Totem Sttafs. My girlfriend & I returned yestereday for a listen. StudioAV is a small shop down Eton High St with a suite of listening rooms across the road where we heard the speakers on a Nain system with Tellurium Q Ultra Black cable.

Armed with a handful of CDs we listened. Came to a decision regarding the Sttafs very quickly - everything sounded way too bassy whether or not the music had much or not (they were a good metre away from the rear wall). I'm not a fan of bass-light systems but honking fat bass is not my scene either. The Focal Electra 1008s stand mounts with their Berylium tweeters sounded a hell of a lot better: tight, if a little dry in the bass & detailed highs without being "explicit". Still not going to show my Arros a clean pair of heels though. They have an unopended pair of Naim Ovator 400s - a model I've heard elsewhere so will return for a listen probably carting my Primare with me.

This is not the 1st demo I've been to at this shop & one aspect I like that others may not is the sales staff stay with you throughout the demo. Most other shops setup the gear, hand you the remotes & beat a retreat & possibly stick their heads round the lintel at some point. Although I'm pretty capable of making up my own mind unaided, some feedback from the sales team & convesation is something I prefer.

I used to drop into Reading Cassette & Hi Fi when they had a small shop in Harris Arcade. They would play stuff - some in my price range, some not but I'd get to hear equipment, some of which I bought. They moved into bigger premises where you would be asked if you had an appointment. OK, they'd be happy to book you in at a later date but I rarely bothered. It felt like walking into a near empty restaurant where you are asked if you've booked a table or not: "no matter, I'm sure we can find you a table" as if some businesses don't want spontaneous custom or just want to wrong-foot you!

Although I'm inclinded to take my time when buying Hi Fi or photo gear, I have spent £100s on the spur of the moment - no appointment & only a very few duff decisions (buying a Canon G10 camera was). One thing you should never ask a punter is whether or not they are going to buy anything unless you are trying to get rid of them, especially when you've bought off them in the past.

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RE: A big thank you.....

Kissing a lot of frogs (sorry Frog!) and finding what doesn't suit, is valuable info.....and it certainly does no harm to have access to a good dealer.

I think you should try getting a dem of the Kef LS50s, because if they work for you (with Primare), they will be very hard to beat at half sensible money. They have a talent for being very revealing, while still remaining musical. This is a hard trick to pull off, and few components manage it, especially at this price.

"We should no more let numbers define audio quality than we should let chemical analysis be the arbiter of fine wines."  Nelson Pass

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RE: A big thank you.....

CnoEvil wrote:

Kissing a lot of frogs (sorry Frog!) and finding what doesn't suit, is valuable info.....and it certainly does no harm to have access to a good dealer.

I think you should try getting a dem of the Kef LS50s, because if they work for you (with Primare), they will be very hard to beat at half sensible money. They have a talent for being very revealing, while still remaining musical. This is a hard trick to pull off, and few components manage it, especially at this price.

Heard them at Bristol - they are very good but SL6s were reveling without being bright as are the Arros. Yesterday's demo reinforced just how good the Arros are. Didn't really get on with Totem Hawks either - good bass with little speed - a congested sound when compared with B&W PM1s I heard the same day, even if they did have bass extension. Another strength of the Arros is they are good all-rounders if not out & out rock speakers.

I'm looking forward to hearing the Ovators again - they are not huge speakers, supposedly unfussy regarding placement but are 4 Ohms & 2 way which is what I usually end up with.

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RE: A big thank you.....

The LS50s are much cleaner and more open than the SL6s.

I didn't get on with the Ovators when I heard them......but they may have improved them since then.

"We should no more let numbers define audio quality than we should let chemical analysis be the arbiter of fine wines."  Nelson Pass

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RE: A big thank you to Dominic of StudioAV, Eton...

The 400s are supposed to be much better than he original 600s that were a mixed bag from what I've read. The 400s did sound well-sorted powered by fairly basic Naim amplification so will be interesting to hear with my Primare. You may have heard the 400s of course.

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RE: A big thank you to Dominic of StudioAV, Eton...

busb wrote:

The 400s are supposed to be much better than he original 600s that were a mixed bag from what I've read. The 400s did sound well-sorted powered by fairly basic Naim amplification so will be interesting to hear with my Primare. You may have heard the 400s of course.

I heard the 400s back in Nov 2010 (I think), at the NI Audio show. It was in the Naim room and on the first day, so not ideal. The sound was rather harsh, boomy and unpleasant.....and it was hard to tell how much of that was down to the room (but I suspect quite a lot).

"We should no more let numbers define audio quality than we should let chemical analysis be the arbiter of fine wines."  Nelson Pass

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RE: A big thank you to Dominic of StudioAV

I wish such threads are posted in the dedicated section:

http://www.whathifi.com/forum/theres-this-shop-near-me

Good threads about shops easily get buried in the Hi-Fi section pretty quickly.

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RE: A big thank you to Dominic of StudioAV, Eton...

Although not exclusively about the dealer - I'd be quite happy if it was moved.

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I like your point about the

I like your point about the sales staff staying with you during the demo. That's something I always did when I was in hifi retail- mainly because footfall is generally low and it was nice to have the conversation from those other than my colleagues! Also lent itself to a more informal experience for both sides, I found, which is probably something my old employers didn't appreciate much, but it lead to repeat customers, and even a head in the door to say hello when they walked past. Made some good friends through it. I've been to far too many hifi shops that were stuffy and quite elitist in a way, but I always took on the thought that we're all music and film fans first and foremost, and music and films are so social. I'm intending to go back to my old workplace when I'm ready for a home cinema upgrade and seeing if they've picked up on what I was doing (a couple of the current staff I worked with for a few months).

To be fair to Reading Cassette and the appointment thing, I can see where they're coming from. Assuming they had a separate demo room, it might already have been set up for a customer later in the day, or so.

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RE: I like your point about the

Deliriumbassist wrote:

I like your point about the sales staff staying with you during the demo. That's something I always did when I was in hifi retail- mainly because footfall is generally low and it was nice to have the conversation from those other than my colleagues! Also lent itself to a more informal experience for both sides, I found, which is probably something my old employers didn't appreciate much, but it lead to repeat customers, and even a head in the door to say hello when they walked past. Made some good friends through it. I've been to far too many hifi shops that were stuffy and quite elitist in a way, but I always took on the thought that we're all music and film fans first and foremost, and music and films are so social. I'm intending to go back to my old workplace when I'm ready for a home cinema upgrade and seeing if they've picked up on what I was doing (a couple of the current staff I worked with for a few months).

To be fair to Reading Cassette and the appointment thing, I can see where they're coming from. Assuming they had a separate demo room, it might already have been set up for a customer later in the day, or so.

 

I think the biggest myth in audio is that purchasers must, by default be music lovers. As controversial as it may read, I've met some who changed their equipment monthly or only buy well-recorded stuff or music from only very well recognised names or need to ask what music to take to demos. I know musical taste is mostly subjective but some stretch that very worthy concept to the limit. I don't have good taste in music or films but my taste in music or films - no more. However, just because someone doesn't share my tastes doesn't mean no interesting conversation either - far from it.

Reading Hi Fi ended up being AudioT some time ago & now have a system set up in their sales area. Some people feel intimidated by appointments - it reminds them of dentists or hospitals! We live in an appointment-obessive society! I'll laugh when a waiter asks if I have an appointment or a salesperson asks if I have a reservation which would be a better term!

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RE: A big thank you to Dominic of StudioAV, Eton

Interesting thread.

I feel that a lot of high st dealers are very 'on the defensive' these days. They offer their time and expertese to customers who come in of the street to listen to the equipment then bugger off and buy online.

Whilst I do not really think it helps, I can understand why dealers want to know if you are 'serious' before spending time and effort on you.

I was fortunate in that I sold out before the internet became a big factor in hi-fi sales but I had a fair number of experiences that went something like this.

 Customer would come in and ask about a system, usualy including a couple of recent 'best buys' that we did not sell. We often would offer to play something at a comparable price that we thought was pretty good.

Sometimes we got to sell the system but quite often we would sell half the system or nothing at all. Then a couple of months later they would return, the favourite line being along the lines of, "I don't think I am getting quite the best out of my system".

It would transpire that the system in question was similar to the one we suggested, but including one or two best buys, that quite frankly really were over hyped or inappropriate to the system as a whole. The suggestion was that we could somehow sort the system out with a couple of £50 interconnects.

When we explained that, no, what you were hearing is what the system sounded like and there was nothing we could do, they got the hump with us because we could not sort it out for them at minimal cost.

As a dealer a few experiences along those lines and it is hardly surprising that you start to choose your customers a little more carefully.

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RE: A big thank you to Dominic of StudioAV, Eton...

I was talking about this to a friend who has worked with cars all his life. He called time-wasters wheel kickers. Whereas many folk are time-wasters, there's a fine line between them & those that do purchase. I have absolutely no compunction regarding scanning the barcode of a CD in a branch of HMV on a Saturday, checking on Amazon & if cheaper buying it off the internet to play it Monday night. I buy cables off the internet but audio equipment - no. Major camera purchases - no.

The way Apple retail is interesting. I've purchased stuff in Apple shops several times. I've often asked about the suitability of an accessory to be invited to purchase & return the item if not suitable. I've done that a few times. I do take stuff back to shops. I returned a lamp to John Lewis, all I was asked if the item was faulty or not. Even the bulb was refunded. Apple's shop employees are not on commission, are numerous & not under the same pressure to sell like some. Apple shops are pretty successful.

Retailers must know that time spent with customers is difficult to quantify - some shop spontaneously, others will return & many will buy elsewhere. Some will walking into a shop & buy something that another retailer has spent a lot of time on with no effort on their part. That is how the cookie crumbles. I do ask for discounts depending on the item & the retailer. Forget large outlets - they have to adhere to company policy but many small retailers will discount for cash. Some say that the internet is distorting retail - I'd say it's changing retail.

 

 

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RE: A big thank you to Dominic of StudioAV, Eton...

CnoEvil wrote:

busb wrote:

The 400s are supposed to be much better than he original 600s that were a mixed bag from what I've read. The 400s did sound well-sorted powered by fairly basic Naim amplification so will be interesting to hear with my Primare. You may have heard the 400s of course.

I heard the 400s back in Nov 2010 (I think), at the NI Audio show. It was in the Naim room and on the first day, so not ideal. The sound was rather harsh, boomy and unpleasant.....and it was hard to tell how much of that was down to the room (but I suspect quite a lot).

The only negative when I heard them was the top end was not the smoothest I've ever heard. I've very rarely heard a decent sound at Hi Fi shows - nearly always poor, especially in hotel bedrooms that are particularly bad for acoustics. The Sttafs I hears may well sound very different in another room. The sofa I sat in was against the rear wall - always a bad idea. Never listen with your back to a wall! The Sttafs were also devoid of mass loading that can tighten the bass considerably. My Arros have 2.5kg of dry sand per speaker.

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RE: A big thank you to Dominic of StudioAV, Eton...

busb wrote:

I was talking about this to a friend who has worked with cars all his life. He called time-wasters wheel kickers. Whereas many folk are time-wasters, there's a fine line between them & those that do purchase. I have absolutely no compunction regarding scanning the barcode of a CD in a branch of HMV on a Saturday, checking on Amazon & if cheaper buying it off the internet to play it Monday night. I buy cables off the internet but audio equipment - no. Major camera purchases - no.

The way Apple retail is interesting. I've purchased stuff in Apple shops several times. I've often asked about the suitability of an accessory to be invited to purchase & return the item if not suitable. I've done that a few times. I do take stuff back to shops. I returned a lamp to John Lewis, all I was asked if the item was faulty or not. Even the bulb was refunded. Apple's shop employees are not on commission, are numerous & not under the same pressure to sell like some. Apple shops are pretty successful.

Retailers must know that time spent with customers is difficult to quantify - some shop spontaneously, others will return & many will buy elsewhere. Some will walking into a shop & buy something that another retailer has spent a lot of time on with no effort on their part. That is how the cookie crumbles. I do ask for discounts depending on the item & the retailer. Forget large outlets - they have to adhere to company policy but many small retailers will discount for cash. Some say that the internet is distorting retail - I'd say it's changing retail.

Apple are not comparable to hi-fi retail in anyway whatsoever, they are more akin to a top end motor retailer.

Maintaining a real retail outlet is an expensive business, squeezing an independent retailer for all but the most modest discount will cut massively into his net margin and reduce his capacity to stock a range of product, remember that the next time you ( or anyone else) complains that the items you want to audition are not available in the same outlet.

Hi-fi is one of the few businesses where the quality and experience of the dealer can be of real help to the customer, yet the customer will often take the help and buy elsewhere, every dealer experiences these issues so a defensive attitude in some cases is understandable.

In general terms, independent dealers are having to find other ways to make a sale, the internet in some cases, custom install too, areas that are easier and more profitable than regular hi-fi retailing. 

I find it quite sad that many of the questions on this forum come from people who have bought blind and unheard and find the results are not quite what they were expecting, Half an hour or so with a competent dealer would have been most enlightning but it clearly never happenned.

One final thought on this subject is that by not having access to better equipment, as a customer might have if he had a 'relationship' with a decent dealer, many enthusiasts have absolutely no idea what a good system can do, so remain under the illusion that the 'commodity' mid-fi that proliferates on these pages is what hi-fi is all about.

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RE: A big thank you to Dominic of StudioAV, Eton...

busb wrote:

Although not exclusively about the dealer - I'd be quite happy if it was moved.

Done

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