Hi Fi industry (and miscellaneous) comments
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May 18th - Off to Singapore for somer R&R (one week only), Mike will be getting all the e-mails or just phone him on 02 9651 4922 and he'll happily chat with you.
April 23rd - Funny how things come back to bite you on the arse, there's a particular product out there which I heard demonstrated and was totally blown away. If I stocked and got behind the product, I estimate I'd do around 1 - 1.5 million dollars a year in sales - however - there's a "gentleman" who works for that company who once shafted me, consequently, they'll just lope along with the product. Pity really - it wouldn't increase my business by much as it'd take sales away from some existing products but it would be exciting to run with (and don't ask me what it is as I wouldn't give them the time of day)
April 16th - The new Definitive Technology speaker range has just been released - The BD-8060ST retailing at $3295 pair and the BP-8040 ST at $2695 (call for best pricing), both have built in 300 Watt subwoofers in each speaker. We're getting our stock in today so we'll have a play with them and rate them appropriately.
April 10th - Just finished a listening session with a pair of Paradigm Atom Monitors and a Paradigm PDR-100 Subwoofer with a Yamaha R-S300 Receiver and CD-S300 CD Player. This was done as a bit of a research project as a client wanted a music system for his den and I don't recommend things without testing. Bloody amazing sound (as long as you don't want dance party levels) and at $1650 (pack price) as good a sound under $2000 as I've heard. That wasn't meant as a hard sell on the product, it's just to let you know that we actually do test systems before recommending them. I'd like to thank all the guys on the Forums for recommending and backing us as well, I know I rub some people up the wrong way but if you have to be honest about the goings on in this business, you're going to break a few eggs.
April 9th - Some people get it and others don't. The guy mentioned in my March 27th blog e-mailed me again trying to argue the point that he could have bought the receiver in the package cheaper elsewhere, if he'd have looked at the invoice however he'd have noticed the package price for the receiver was lower than anywhere else - no point to make really as he has his money back and he wasn't put out at all. Now, we had a real problem with the couriers the other day, a customer, lets call him Eli, orders a full system from us for delivery interstate and when the system arrived at his place the courier would only drop the goods at the front door and wouldn't take the floor standing speakers inside even though the only person there to take delivery was a pregnant lady. Not only that but one of the speakers was damaged (dropped by the couriers). Eli was upset (as I would be) but realised that it wasn't our fault. I organised for a changeover for the speaker and have written to the courier company about the less than satisfactory experience (probably won't be read). All good now and hopefully another long term customer.
April 5th - Just got back from a relaxing 4 days at Port Stephens (I needed to clear my head after March 27th's debacle). I had some interesting e-mails whilst away, problem is I generally answer them at night after a few (OK, a lot) of drinks, and as a consequence become a little less diplomatic than perhaps I should. I just can't figure that, when someone asks for my opinion on a particular product, I give him the answer to the best of my knowledge, then they want to argue the point and keep on asking why this and that. If you want a debate, call me on the phone at work as e-mails get totally impersonal and I get somewhat frustrated!
March 27th - As you probably know, I'm still in this game so I have something to get up for in the mornings, get to play with new toys and meet interesting people. Occasionally (maybe once a year) I bump into an absolute dickhead which makes me think about re-prioritising my life. A guy who shall remain nameless (let's call him Arthur) orders a system from Melbourne, I give him a shit hot deal (technical term) and as he doesn't have a business address to ship to, he opted to pick up from the depot. Now, we have no control over TNT delivereries but we shipped the good out the same day and, normally it takes one to three working days to get to Melbourne. Because the goods weren't all in the depot by the end of day two he sent me this e-mail -
I don't know what tomorrow brings BUT if
I can't have equipment at my place for Easter then I have no
choice but to regretfully cancel my order. And I mean it, Steve.
So, threatening me like that is going to make things happen eh! Well, it sure did, I called him up the next morning, got his credit card details and refunded him the full amount (just under $5000) - Legally, we were under no obligation but I just can't stand the stress of dealing with some megalomaniac who has no idea of how the real world works. It truly makes one wonder if the whole thing is worth while. Fortunately, 99.99% of customer experiences are positive and I actually enjoy the interaction via phone or e-Mail. Hmm, must be Bourbon time.
March 26th -Time to move my home demo stock,
sold the amp and CD, just the speakers left now. Go to the hifi
specials page for pricing.
March 19th - I'm a great fan of Bars (in fact I rarely walk past one without peering in or tasting the wares), there are some however which don't tickle my fancy. They are Sound Bars. Unfortunately, they now represent over 40% of all A/V sound re-enforcement products so I have to take some notice of them. Our friends at Paradigm have just released a basic model called The Soundtrack. Sounds bloody good for vocal enhancement and a Movie Experience (without the full surround of course). Retail is only $990 and we have them in store for demo. Oh, the wireless subwoofer is kind of neat as well.
March 14th - I like a sound to reflect that which would be heard as the artist or producer intended, the problem with recommending sound systems is that most people seem to have a pre-conceived idea of how a particular song or piece of music should sound. I generally overcome this by asking what type of music and volume levels people prefer. This was hammered home to me when I picked up the new Lexus GS350 which has an amazing sound system, so complex to set up however that it took me three days of playing around to get the most out of it. The problem was that Mark Turner (General Manager, Lexus Parramatta) thrust his settings onto me (no, I didn't mean it to be rude). He likes his treble up, midrange down and bass maxed out. To my ears, it was like being assaulted (incidentally, did you hear about the two peanuts who went for a stroll in the woods? One came out assaulted) - but I digress, using my Joe Jackson test disc "Rain", I found the best setting was actually the factory default (now there's a first). I'm now a happy little commuter.
March 7th - Listen up you lot, we're not responsible for networking issues when the A/V product is connected to a home networking system. 99.99% of the time, it's virtually Plug and Play and up until this week we haven't had any issues we couldn't resolve. Guy has a 4G Hot Spot from Telstra however that doesn't want to integrate with his A/V Receiver via Wi-Fi (it doesn't have Ethernet). We certainly didn't sell it to him suggesting it would work (we thought he had a regular Router) and although it may be possible to get it integrated, we don't know as we've never come across it before. Guy is getting niggly but in this case, although we're happy to refund the for the Wi-Fi Adaptor, the A/V receiver purchase was his decision and in no way did we say it would work with his set up. As there are so many variations in Home Integration, you need to ensure you have the correct networking in the house to support DNLA etc. If worried, just call Mike or one of the guys here and we'll run through it but to get shitty with us for a lack of technical diligence is just plain wacky.
March 6th - So, I thought I got all the "strange" ones. After reading my Blog below however, a person from a large electronics importer, who shall remain nameless, called me this morning with the following story -
Guy rings up and said he's seen one of their products (an Amplifier) on sale interstate at a bargain price and would like to buy it. He asked which local dealer had one so he could listen to it first (that got my back up straight away). My source told him that there were none in NSW as that particular company bought all the stock. The guy insisted that they get one back from the retailer, hook it up and let him listen to it as it wasn't fair he couldn't hear it before deciding to purchase. Fortunately for the guy, Peter is a nice person and was reasonably diplomatic. Can you imagine what I would have told him!
March 4th - We deadset get some doozies of e-mails. I'm going to share this one with you as it really shows a lack of something on the part of the e-mailer -
Hi, I'm looking at purchasing a pair of Yamaha NS-777 speakers for a 2.0 Music setup.
They can be had on Amazon for around $350
with $34.99 shipping however I would prefer to purchase
I was wondering what your price was on this item and whether that price can compete with the online price.
Now, if you click on the link, you'll notice
the price is per speaker, not for a pair, you'll also notice the
shipping is within the USA only. His reply to my price (about
the same as the US price plus GST) was - "I'll probably come by
in a few weeks for a listen". Now, I thought he said he actually
wanted to purchase a pair, its now downgraded to a "maybe"
depending on a demonstration. It's no wonder I get the shits
with on-line bargain hunters!
February 28th - I just knew this would happen! As you probably know, I have a thing about "wholetailers" That is, Retailers who also bring in products and wholesale them into the market (how the heck can you get an honest opinion of what you really need from a store that makes double margin on a product). Well, Richter Speakers (a once revered brand when Ralph Waters was involved) who still make a reasonable product, was sold to a retailer and guess what? He's ripping the guts out of the prices making it all but impossible for other stockists to sell against him. So, we'll dump what we have left (not much fortunately) and find a better product at a lower price.
February 26th - I'm back (I can hear the groans from here) so you can still e-mail Mike (he's nicer than me) or I'm back on line at email@example.com
February 11th - Off to Vegas and Honolulu this week for a while. Assuming I ever get the urge to return, I'll be back at the end of the month. In the meantime, send all e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org and he'll not only be nicer to you than I would but is far more knowledgeable. A consequence of this is you won't get a newsletter until I return.
February 8th - Ever had two perfect days consecutively? It happened to me this week. Scott McKenzie and I went up to the holiday unit at Soldiers Point on Wednesday afternoon so he could skipper the boat back to Sydney Harbour whist I drove back to pick him up from the marina. On the Wednesday night, we downed a bottle of Jack Daniels between us and solved the problems of the Audio Industry over a four hour period. Scott was head of Consumer Products for Amber Technology (Onkyo) and has since moved up in the company but it's interesting the perspective on industry icons (or wankers as the case may be) that both a retailer (me) and wholesaler (Scott) have in common. The only difference is, Scott is far more diplomatic than I so holds his tongue (except after half a bottle of JD). The next day, Scott took the boat down and I picked him up at the Marina in Sydney, we had a beer or two then parted company. That evening, I took the lovely Noelene (wife of many years) to dinner then on to see "The Hollies" an absolutely iconic 60's group who played all their hits spot on. The sound system was great and our seats were three rows from the front. It really doesn't get much better than that, unless of course, you get to go to Las Vegas for a four day stay then on to Honolulu for five days recovery. That'll be next week then.
February 6th - Lots of fun this week. My VOX AC30 Guitar amp shitted itself (technical term) - AGAIN. Glad I don't play gigs any more! Anyway, it's a common problem and involves replacing the rectifier valve which is a 15 minute job. Must have been one of those times as the Marina as Soldiers Point wanted my boat out of there and it was not going to happen whilst the storms were on (it has to come around 220 kms across the ocean to Sydney Harbour) so tomorrow looks like the first reasonably calm day. Scott McKenzie (toy man extraordinaire) who's day job is to go around the world to find neat electronics for us retailers to sell, will be heading off at 5.00am tomorrow with the hope of reaching Sydney sometime later in the day. Good luck with that one Scott! At least the boat's insured. Not sure about Scott though.
I spent the last few nights further playing my extensive CD collection and have come to the conclusion that the production value is more critical than the delivery method (more of that in the newsletter however). I've been using Apple Lossless (ALAC) and comparing the result to the same CD's ripped as .WAV. So far I haven't been able to discern any difference but I'll try it sober on the weekend.
January 19th - Due to excessive heat, I've now almost perfected slouching on the lounge in my music room with a bottle of Bookers Noe Bourbon (pure alcohol as far as I can ascertain), crushed ice and coke!. Whilst slouching, I've been listening to all my music on CD again (as against streaming) using my new Yamaha A-S2000 amplifier and CD-S2000 CD Player with a pair of Paradigm Studio 100 speakers. Musically, this is one of the best sounding systems I've heard (certainly using a pair of Signature S8's would be better but that's stretching my budget) . I ended up with this combination as I was able to get the Amp and CD Player at a good price (check our hifi specials page for pricing) as normally they would be too expensive for me to justify. The difference between this pure stereo system and an A/V set up playing CD's is significant and definitely worth while (goes against my usual preaching).
January 16th - There are some real ungrateful bastards out there, so much so that I've decided to be 10% meaner and nastier for 2013 (that's on top of my 60% nastiness rating already). Guy rings up about some speakers we had on special, we'd sold them about half an hour earlier and when I told him he went into the old sob story about being an old pensioner who never got a break. After talking to the old coot (hmm, he was only a year or so older than me) for a while, I took pity on him and offered him a pair of the same speakers that were new (the ones advertised were ex-display from another dealer) for around the same money. I was making bugger all on these but it made me feel good to help him out. As he was interstate and it was early in the New Year, we had some logistics issues and didn't get the speakers ready for delivery for 5 days. When he called and asked for the status, he went off his tits that they hadn't shipped and asked for his money back. I naturally refunded the money (no skin off my nose as there was no profit in it) and decided not to be nice anymore.
Talking of being nice, I troll the Forums occasionally and found an interesting thread about a discount store in Melbourne which sells on price alone. There were numerous complaints about them not responding to customers who needed guidance on things such as set up and networking. Instead they just referred the customer to Yamaha's own consumer help department (who generally don't have much time to spend with each individual). We charge a couple of dollars more than that particular store on some products (about 1%) but are happy to spend all the time necessary with a customer to help solve issues. Not me personally as I'm technically incompetent, but one of the guys here who actually plays with stuff like networking, bi-wiring, streaming etc. Sometimes, spending an extra $10 to $20 is well worth it.
January 8th - This is the first chance I've had to update as we've had the busiest two weeks in the shops history (Phew) - not complaining mind you. I feel lost now however as things have quieted down a bit and all my confidantes are in Vegas for the CES. No doubt I'll get texted updates of what's happening and how they're in -2 degree weather while I'm suffering in 43 degree heat in Sydney. Lots of new models are due out after the CES so they'll be new toys to play with, specifically new AirPlay and Blue-Tooth driven active speakers (another nail in the Sonos coffin). I've seen the specs on some of these and it'll give the market a shake up. The other interesting thing about all the importers going to the CES is that it's like re-signing time for F1 Drivers or Football Players in that everyone vies for the importation rights to the better products on the market. Those importers not doing so well have to watch their backs as the knives come out. Fascinating stuff, just a pity I can't mention names.
December 29th - Know what really gives me the shits? People who either put a deposit on a product or ask me to hold it for them as they will be in next week to pick it up - then they change their mind and want me to refund the deposit or let the product go. They have no idea how much trouble that can cause. there was one guy who put a deposit on an item I listed, I pulled it off the specials page, turned two customers who wanted said product away then Fred changed his mind and wanted his money back. It then has to be re-listed and by that time I could have sold the product and had the money to buy other stuff. This copy from the UK Government Consumer site says it best (it applies almost universally)
"Shops will sometimes ask for a deposit if they are ordering something specially for you or are reserving an item for you. If you then change your mind, the shop can legally keep your deposit. Particularly in the case of the reserved item, they may also argue that they could have sold the item if it had not been reserved for you. If they do, they may insist that you keep your promise and buy it or else compensate them for their loss of profit."
Australians have it better than most countries as stores such as K-Mart, Myer etc. are big enough to absorb these customer foibles and actually encourage returns due to change of mind, small business however can be broken by this type of behavior. We're lucky that we're large enough to be able to wear the costs so, unless we've had to order the product in as a special order, we generally return the deposit (unless the customer really pisses me off) but it just amazes me how people can be so unthinking (I won't say selfish because they generally don't realise the extent to which they've put the staff out). Ha! That's my rant for the day.
December 27th - Well, Christmas has come and gone for another year. I'm not sure how we'll end up but as of Christmas Eve, we were marginally ahead of last years figures (always a good sign). Main sales were for A/V Receivers and Subwoofers. Interesting mix! As most people are now integrating their Home Theatre Systems and Stereo Systems, the subwoofer component needs to be both dynamic for movies and musical for (dare I say it) music. There are not a lot of subwoofers which I find suitable for both jobs but, hopefully, my experimenting and home testing has weeded out the best in each price bracket (although they are room dependent in terms of both size and layout).
December 18th - In my occasional spare moments, I get to read some the (sometimes) informative gossip put on-line and manage to read the occasional trade magazine. There's some right rubbish being trotted out however (must be the time of year). Best faux pas would be an article quoting Ben McIntosh of Harvey Norman giving tips to the industry for the busy Christmas period. Given the slide in Harvey's overall profit over the last 12 months, that's akin to Kim Jong-un giving lectures on the benefits of a capitalist society. Another little slip was in a particular trade mag. that suggested a new inkjet printer had "two sided duplex printing" Well Duh! I know I'm no William Shakespeare but at least I'm reasonably grammatically savvy. It's no wonder some of the up and coming generation lack communication skills.
The New Yamaha CD-N500 CD/Network Players are now in stock. Great concept and fantastic sound
Incorporated into the home network, it allows for a myriad of connectivity and programming opportunities. Regular price is $799 with an introductory price of $649 (only for existing stocks)
December 14th - OK, it's been a couple of weeks but I've actually been busy!
One of the services that differentiates us from most stores is our equipment support. We spend around 3 hours each day in total on the phone helping people with set up issues. I certainly don't mind helping but before calling, please read the Manual as most support problems stem from the fact that some people just can't be bothered actually learning how to use the gear properly. Having said that. I'm as much to blame as anyone as I tend to take gear home, plug it in without reading the documentation then, when it doesn't work correctly, I call the guys in the store for help - they get to heap abuse on me however whereas they have to be nice to you lot!
As a matter of utmost importance (I'm a car freak after all), I asked in my Newsletter what would be my ideal car - considering I get called a Wanker in whatever I seem to drive. Most people suggested I get a Hummer as I could just run over nasty people but I just saw the specs on Audi's SQ5 and it seems like my dream car. I could use it for deliveries and with a 0 - 100 kph time of 5.1 seconds, it's faster than most. All I need to do is find an Audi dealership that treats the customer like Lexus does.
November 29th -
So, you really want to know how the other half live eh? This is a photo of Mel Chillari ( who, along with wife Vicky and brother John owns Apollo HiFi ) guzzling Moet et Chandon from the bottle (peasant) on board his 84 foot boat. Fortunately, he wasn't the Captain du Jour so no foul. Obviously I'm doing something wrong as I only have a 32 footer and drink Sparkling Seaview Blush. The photo was taken during the yearly Apollo HiFi Christmas Cruise which has become legendary in HiFi circles as THE social event of the year. I get the feeling the only reason I'm invited is because of the old saying - Keep your friends close and you enemies closer (either that or John and Mel like to chat with my missus) Anyway, everyone tells me I had a good time (personally, I don't remember much as the boys kept me plied with the demon alcohol).
This is John (the grinning one) keeping an eye on me to make sure I didn't offend too many people (a specialty of mine)
This is a photo of my little craft whilst entertaining Paul and Steve (Audio Active - Paradigm importers), John and Bob (Paradigm Big Shots) and the lovely Sue and Noelene.
Obviously a lot smaller craft with less facilities but just as much booze!
November 24th - So, for a relatively cheap Christmas Package I thought I'd do a "Kogan" and list a system which makes us very little margin but allows us to sell cheap by doing it without demonstrating - that way it's just "Here's the system, where's the money?". Basically it's a Yamaha 5.1 package which looks and sounds good, retails for $2455, normally discounts to $1499 but we're doing it at $1299. Check it out on our hifi specials page. The other bargain we just got our hands on is the Rosenut Paradigm SE Speaker package. As the colour is being discontinued (Gloss Black is ongoing) we bought up the last of the available stock and are able to sell the 5.1 Speaker packs for $2790, considering the RRP is $5696, it's an absolute bloody bargain (Made in Canada).
November 20th - Streaming is the future of hi-fi music reproduction. Unfortunately, a lot of people don't understand it and consequently end up with a shitty source. Let me explain. The days of getting out your CD, Cassette or Vinyl is over. Most people are now storing music on their computer and sending it either wirelessly or via CATX to their internal or external DAC for processing. The trouble is, a lot of the punters out there are ripping the music as MP3 which, even at 320kbs looses around 70% of all musical information which means that on a decent system, it sounds crap, especially when a complex piece of orchestration is involved. If you want to rip music for storage on a hard drive it should be in a lossless format such as .WAV, FLAC etc. The other No No which is becoming increasingly popular is subscription site such as Spotify, JB HiFi Now, RARA et al which generally don't even give streaming rates but are generally 128 to 256kbs - fine for casual listening but horrible for sitting down and actually enjoying the music. The problem is that a lot of the younger set don't know any better and have no reference to good sound as all they ever do is download from i-Tunes or a subscription base.
So sad :(
November 16th - All good, I swapped my home computer for my work one for now - hopefully ATI will release windows 8 drivers for my graphics card soon!
Talking of technical problems, we certainly don't mind helping out but it does get a bit rich when someone purchases speakers off us but gets the receiver elsewhere (heavens knows why in this particular case as the receiver in question didn't suit the speakers), the customer then calls with an issue where he can't get the TV sound through the receiver - it's not a problem, just a connectivity issue. As we don't sell that particular brand of receiver we couldn't really help anyway but when I suggested he contact the place he purchased the receiver from he seemed quite upset and said he couldn't get in contact with them. Most peculiar.......
November 15th - Just upgraded to Windows 8. Went well on my home computer but doesn't recognise my graphics card on the work computer. Bugger, bugger, bugger....
November 14th - Slight misunderstanding in our Newsletter Contest. I asked for the name of Guitar that Brian May (Queen Guitarist) first owned. I actually meant the Brand Name, not the fact it was a Spanish Acoustic Guitar. Sorry for the lack of clarity.
November 6th - Back from Honolulu, 2kgs heavier but happy. I mentioned before how close we now are to US pricing on electronics (audio, not video) and a trip to Sears showed that the Yamaha range in Australia (at "go" pricing) is almost at parity with US pricing once taxes have been taken into account (they don't show the tax component of their goods on the sticker - it's added at the checkout). Marantz however is about half the price in the US than can be bought for in Australia - someone is sticking it up us somewhere!
October 28th - Off for a week (yes, yes, no more of the "off" jokes already) so all e-mails will be handled by Mike. He'll probably give better deals than I do so go for it! For any orders, just call him on 02 9651 4922 (just don't call him Bob).
October 25th - Now, credit where credit is due I always say so I'll give a wrap to a brand which screwed me over in a major way back in 1992. Yes folks, it's the dreaded Bose Corporation (for the full story, wait for my memoirs). For a company that made its name making speakers which, in their day, were the most advanced in the world (the Bose 901) they went on to making "Lifestyle" products - easy to operate, nice to look at, shit to listen to (my opinion). All that aside, they do make fantastic Pro Products and, having one of the largest research and development divisions in the audio industry, are able to make some incredible technical advances. I ramble on about this as I needed a pair of noise cancelling headphones as the lovely Noelene and myself have decided to spend more time travelling (before my liver calls it a day) and there's nothing worse than the constant drone of a jet aircraft. Having tried many different noise cancelling headphones (Panasonic, Koss, AKG amongst others) I decided to try a pair of the Bose QC-15's. Bloody amazing! The actual headphone quality is quite good (about the same a decent pair of $150 Yamaha's) but the noise cancelling is just the best I've ever experienced making the $399 price tag somewhat of a bargain. I can't praise them highly enough in relation to the job they were designed to do. Thoroughly recommended (best place to purchase them is Apollo Hi-Fi just call them on 02 9560 9019 or order on-line).
October 23 - Spent last night watching/listening to the Strat Pack, a motley crew of musicians who gathered at Wembley Stadium in 2004 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Fender Stratocaster Guitar. Before I was absolutely shit faced on the 2006 St Andrews Shiraz I was guzzling, I realised just how critical the centre speaker is when playing DVD/Blu-Ray Concerts. Luckily, I had three different centres on hand to try. I say luckily as two of them sounded crap with the rest of the gear I was using. Most of the instrumentation came through the left and right front speakers but the vocals were mixed using the centre and it all has to match. It doesn't necessarily mean the centre has to be the same brand as the left and right speakers but it does have to match, not tonally but in timbre. An interesting evening and one that probably will cost me some money as I'm visiting my favourite music store in Honolulu next week and the last time I was there, they had the Fender Telecaster (US Model) on sale for $699 so I had to buy it (local price in Sydney is around $1500 - $1800), if they have a Strat on sale then I'm in trouble.
October 18th - Just received this months edition of Australian Hi-Fi Magazine (still respectable after all these years) and it was interesting to see them drive another nail into the Sonos brand with a major article on Apple AirPlay. Love 'em or hate 'em, Apple now have the streaming market by the balls. Great article and worth buying the magazine for. Personally however, I use Yamaha's own streaming app (the new range of Yamaha receivers have both Airplay and their own app so you get the best of both worlds). The thing I don't understand about the Sonos distributors is that they pay for useless ads (I opened my copy of Rolling Stone Magazine to see the first two pages which, after some delving, turns out to be an Ad for Sonos. No one I've shown it to could work out what it actually meant until they looked at it for longer than any normal person would if glancing through) - they'd be better off spending the money on staff training (bitter? moi?)
October 17th - I always hear complaints about how prices in Australia are way more than those from overseas sources. There's many reasons for that, every electronic item sold in Australia has to have a C-Tick (approval from the Federal Government in relation to EMF, and it costs money to get that approval), GST, import duty, local warranty, the tyranny of distance (higher freight charges) and the numbers game (you don't need to make as much money per unit if selling 100,000 receivers as against a market into which you can only sell 2000 units). It was interesting then to see that the latest range of Yamaha Aventage receivers, once you take away the GST, sells at around the same price in the US as it does here (I'm talking street prices).
October 15th - Hold the phone on the last blog. It seems the AHA takes things more seriously than I thought and are looking into my concerns (thanks Peter), I'll let you know how it pans out.
October 13th - Steve's Mea Culpa.
How to piss $1320 up against a wall. First, think you're doing the right thing by joining with "like minded" businesses and join the Australian Hi-Fi Association. Second, trust those who make decisions within said organization.
See! it's that easy.
As there is a major reduction in Hi-Fi Specialists in Australia, I thought it a good idea to join with a group of specialist retailers and their suppliers/wholesalers as a show of support and to (hopefully) inject some forward thinking ideas into the fray (and maybe get some good ideas in return). Alas, it seems that a few of the members don't do their homework. They announced last week that they had accepted another retailer as a new member. This particular retailer has a somewhat chequered past as a parallel importer and staff members from that store had, in the past, threatened our staff members with physical violence and also the staff of another major importer. I'm no saint myself when it comes to relationships with other dealers and suppliers but at no time have I ever threatened anyone with anything bar lite verbal banter (and I would never threaten local wholesalers by parallel importing). Obviously, I cancelled my membership of the AHA (yes folks, even I have some principles). I noticed that one wholesaler said my position was akin to "the pot calling the kettle black", I wonder what he would have thought when, being yelled at over the phone, he'd have his "fu#*&+g head punched in" by the latest addition the AHA?
So, my fault then.
Apollo hi-fi are also on the "lets get rid of Steve" bandwagon it seems. Mel Chillari (who, along with his beautiful wife and his brother John) owns Apollo, tried to hasten my demise by forcing me to drink so much alcohol that I couldn't remember walking back to my townhouse at Port Stephens (Mel owns the townhouse five doors down) Ha! didn't work Mel, I woke up the next morning and apart from a major headache and amnesia, I made a full recovery (although I believe a liver transplant may be needed shortly).
October 2nd. Everyone's idea of "good" sound is different, my idea of good sound is a system that can reproduce the sound that the recording artist and engineer wanted you to hear. I've been fortunate over the years in that I've been in recording studio's and have played and had produced some (pretty awful) music, so I have a fair idea of the overall process. It gets to the stage however where some people start believing that their take on sound is better than the original intent. We had a guy in yesterday who wanted to listen to a pair of the Paradigm Signature S8's and after 5 minutes declared them to sound rubbish. His prerogative of course but having garnered accolades from around the world as one of the best speakers ever made at any price, one would think his idea of good sound is somewhat at odds with several hundreds of thousands of other audio enthusiasts around the world. What really made it interesting however was his comment that it took around two hours for his CD Player to warm up and sound good. My personal thoughts on that is that he enjoys a good Scotch and it takes that long for the soothing effect of the amber fluid to take control of his auditory senses. Maybe I should put a bar in the sound lounge, that way I can liquor up any "Audiophiles" so their judgment on matters audio will improve in a generally logarithmic relationship to their alcohol consumption.
September 25th - Just returned from the trip to the Yamaha Musical Instrument factory in Jakarta. The factories were amazing and the number of artisans working on the Pianos were a sight to behold. Jakarta however is scary to say the least (our 5 star hotel was surrounded with razor wire and everyone had their luggage and themselves scanned every time we entered the building). Fortunately, we stopped off in Singapore on the way home - probably the cleanest and safest city in the world so the contrast was incredible. Thanks to Yamaha for showing us the dedication of their employees and quality control during manufacture. It certainly re-enforces our backing of their products.
September 15th - Sometimes I get very, very frustrated. Guy rings up and tries to screw me to the ground on the price of a bottom end receiver. I ask him a few questions about his choice (the unit he wanted didn't have the connectivity he needed) and it turns out he paid around $7000 for his speakers. I suggested that a sub $1000 receiver wasn't the best match for the system at which point he became quite, shall we say, animated. After listening to him rave on about how useless streamed music is (and this is from a guy who had to have AirPlay on the receiver) for around 15 minutes, I suggest a receiver which would be more appropriate to run his speakers (which I know well) - he tells me his choice is better and hangs up. In future I think I'll keep my big mouth shut and sell the consumer what he wants even though it's the wrong choice.
Yamaha will release the new top end Aventage range at the end of the month (we 'll have stocks first week in October), The RX-A1020, RX-A2020 and RX-A3020, retails are $1799, $2199 and $2699 respectively (call for best pricing). No sonic improvements over the current range but the addition of AirPlay and a free Wi-Fi to Ethernet connector should be another nail in the Sonos coffin. The 3020 also allows the second HDMI output to transmit another source from the main room and the audio can be in two or multi-channel (think of the possibilities of that one).
Yamaha also announced the release of some new headphones in the "better" bracket (read $300 to $500). Given their current $179 pair cans are some of the best I've heard, I can't wait to get my hands (ears) on these new units.