Lets dumb it down some more!

I don't like to get political on a hi-fi site but the "Evil Doers" in Washington want to scrap NPR and PBS. I learned my right from my left and how to tie my shoes on Sesame Street!! If we keep this up we are DOOMED. Next will be music, dancing and reading books of your choice. It'll be John Tesh, Yanni and Amy Grant for your musical enjoyment. You won't be buying records. You'll be buying a drool cup.
sign the petition here

27 years ago today…

I wrote a fake doctors note to leave school. Yes, yours truly, skipped out on Catholic school to go interview MOTLEY CRÃœE! As an underage music enthusiast I wrote for Public News a weekly entertainment newspaper (later bought by Patty Hearst!). My plan worked. I could navigate myself into bars and clubs deemed for those 18 or above. I was only 16 at the time but I had press passes. So Ozzy was coming to town for the Bark At The Moon tour and The Crue were opening. I basically wanted to see if I could pull off a interview with them. After many, I'm sure annoying, phone calls to the WEA offices in Houston I got my interview. "Hey kid, I admire your persistence. Vince and Nikki will be here at 2". I enlisted my friend Paul to take pictures and we headed off to our "dentist" appointments. That afternoon I drank champagne and ate cake (literally) with Vince Neil and Nikki Sixx in celebration of them selling a Gold record. I scored a couple records and two passes for the show that night. We then returned to school.
"Where ya been all day DiFrank?"
"Oh, drinking champagne with Motley Crue"
I then pulled out my "Crue loot" and a cassette recording of the interview..
heh heh...

The only reason I remembered this date is because later that night, while I was rocking out at the Ozzy concert, my sister gave birth to my niece, Heather. Happy Birthday Heather!! A day I will never forget!
The Crue

isoblue racks

1279962780_Isoblue Nat ash_w600_h400.png
Founded in 2000, Isoblue modular hi-fi furniture was designed by company founder, Chris Bampton.
This is a modular system for modular hi-fi and each stack will require a base level (spiked to the floor) and subsequent shelves with the trademark 'V' uprights in solid wood. We would suggest keeping the stacks moderately low with a base plus 3 (OK, maybe 4 shelves in total per stack. Standard spacing is 100mm between shelves and additional spacers are available to bring these spaces to 135mm, 165 mm up to a maximum of 230 mm.
The design is of ageless simplicity but it also works extremely well. Isoblue has been a darling of Naim users for most of the past ten years and, whilst it is extremely compatible with the Naim character, not to say dimensions, it is also pretty universal in its appeal. The Series 60 racks are $325 per shelf. Rack pictured is $1300.

well put.

Hey Brian,
I just read your website rant and wanted to reply.
I've emailed you on a few occasions (maybe more!) for advice and a quote but unfortunately shipping to Canada plus exchange, duty, custom brokerage fees... makes it too expensive. So far all I've bought from you is a green Rega platter matte and a t-shirt. Sorry.
Unfortunately the dealers here (Toronto) and in most places in North America, suck. The Forums are for mostly nut cases that just need to talk about their gear. Everyone's an expert... they all know better than the gears designers or manufactures.....
Tweak tweak tweak.
When a Naim dealer tries to sell me a power conditioner I know there is trouble!

My local dealers.

I hadn't bought any gear in 4 years as I have been happy with my all Rega system. I'm not a tweaker or upgrader. I've bought a lot of records though. I'm more into the music than the gear.
But, ......I've always loved and wanted a Naim system. Have suggested them and arranged them for a couple friends. Its great sounding gear. Works as a system. Is reliable, and repairable and has been around a long time.
I tried to buy Nait 5i once with cash in hand from a Naim dealer. The dealer told me not to waste my money and tried to sell me a more expensive Cyrus system. It sounded thin to me. Metallic and cold. I was told it was "better", I bought nothing.
This happened again a few years back. Except this time it was a Nait 5-i-2, and I was told Densen smokes Naim. I didn't want Densen... I bought nothing.
I finally decided to buy a Nait xs. I ordered one from a small local shop on the phone. I didn't want to be talked out of it this time! He said I'd have it in 3 days. It took over two weeks. I even called the distributor to make sure they had stock and I wasn't being screwed as I had gone through this years ago when another local dealer took my credit card for a new Rega P5, power supply and Exact. After three weeks of excuses and being told by the dealer that the distributor was back-ordered and wouldn't have stock for another 2-3 weeks. I called the distributor. They had 15 in stock. They intervened, arranged for my refund and an apologetic upgrade to a P7.... The dealer went out of business shortly after....
The nait xs arrived. Great amp. I love it. Way more fun and more engaging. Music has slam and attack and a big soundstage, much more like live music than my Rega amps. So far, less detail though. I'd like to try it with Naca 5 and am curious what the flatcap xs would bring. The dealer has neither on the floor or to lend, but assures me they are excellent and will "smoke" my Rega gear. I need to hear it for myself in this case.
So I called some other local Naim dealers.

None of the 4 local Naim dealers in Toronto have a pair of Naca 5 speaker cable I can hear or borrow with my new Nait xs. Their Naim systems on their floors are wired with other cable! Nobody has a flatcap xs to demo. One told me the flatcap is meant to use with a second power amp for bi-amping and tried to sell me the two pieces. Moron. I wasn't looking to bi-amp! He didn't even ask what my speakers are or if they are bi-ampable. They aren't!

Nobody has a stageline for MM either for demo or on the floor. But I've been assured it will "smoke" my Rega Fono or Graham slee era gold. I hope it would, I would give it the chance to, but I'm not buying based on these dealers advice. I'm not even convinced they have heard a Stageline!

Another dealer just out of town I used to know was a big Naim and Rega believer. He thought it was the greatest equipment and was really knowledgeable and helpful. I called him to find out his opinion on a flatcap. He thinks Naim is "overrated crap" and suggested other gear! "Rega is no better than NAD" Why the sudden change of heart? I called the distributor to ask (both Rega and Naim have the same distibutor in Canada now) the dealer was cut-off for non-payment of his bills.....

I know it's a difficult business to be in. I realize a lot of people just use the stores to demo then price shop elsewhere or buy used from the forums. But when the value added of a local store is zero, and they don't have demo gear, have a questionable knowledge base, and their store is a revolving door of brands depending on which distributor is carrying what lines and who they owe money to.... What is a customer supposed to do? This stuff is expensive, sells used at a substantial loss, and it's easy to make purchasing mistakes. And dealers wonder why most people don't buy decent stereos...

I think lousy local dealers are equally to blame for the current mess of this industry. If there was a great local dealer who knew his stuff, was instrumental in helping me build a system, had fair prices, was reliable at filling orders, carried brands i related to, was helpful in setting stuff up and and made demo equipment available, at least in the store properly set up, they would have my business and wouldn't need to compete with online prices. Unfortunately, this hasn't existed here for a long time.

I've yet to make it to Austin (although it is my last name!) I have friends that go every year to south by southwest, that's how I found out about your store. I can tell by your site and your replies that you are pretty passionate about music. That you carry brands that you believe in and stick with them and believe in the system approach. Music nights? We have nothing like your store here. Maybe it is unique? I wish I was closer or that cross border shipping wasn't such a big deal. I appologise for wasting your time with audio questions. I do appreciate and value your opinions. I can't say that about very many people, one other in fact.
As I mentioned it is very likely I'm moving to San Francisco later this year as my wife has been offered a great job there. I realize that doesn't make you "my local audio store" but it's close enough for me, no borders, shipping is feasible and warranty isn't an issue. Hopefully my future business will make you realize that not everyone is out to use and abuse you and that your advice and web site have been greatly appreciated. I won't bug you again with audio questions until I'm ready to buy from you.

Thanks again,
Take care,

Hi Shawn,

I really enjoyed your letter. I'm sorry your local dealers "ride the short bus". Seems like their business model isn't working out. Unfortunately, many dealers are more interested in moving boxes with bigger margins than providing quality goods. NAD over Rega? Please. I sold Cyrus years ago and liked it until it started breaking and offered no support, so I dropped it. Naim and Rega are the backbone of my shop. They sound great, don't break and are always in stock.

I don't mind giving out advice to people and you aren't wasting my time. The "bitch" post was basically addressed to a couple local individuals that I needed to vent on. A good 50% of my business is out of state because there are no local dealers anymore... or they suck, as you well know. Please feel free to pick my brain anytime you want. I hope I don't scare people away because of my "bitching". Audiogon and "Gurus" on audio forums really piss me off.

I hope San Francisco works out for you! It's a great city and has some really good hi-fi shops!

Enjoy the music (not the power conditioner)! ; )


Coming back in soon!

wellTempered_image01The excellent Well Tempered Amadeus is coming back to the shop. I sold my floor model a couple months ago and have been busy buying other goodies for the shop. I'm pondering what cart will go on it. Probably the EMT TSD15.

Neil Peart. Ghost Rider

I've been on a kick reading about rock stars. The past few weeks I've read Keith Richards bio, Life. Guns n' Roses drummer Stephen Adler's sad read and porn star Ron Jeremy's book Hardest Working Man In Showbiz (not really a rock star, but close enough).

I just started reading Rush drummer, Neil Peart's book, Ghost Rider. Poor dude! He lost his daughter and wife within a year. The book is about him hopping on a BMW motorcycle and hitting the healing highway. I love drums, autobiographies and travel books! So far, it's been hard to put down.

Buy Local. If you can..


99% of the people who come into my shop are well behaved and pleasant. There are a few "special" visitors who make me feel like that kid Stephen on YouTube who freaks out. Have you seen this kid? whoa! anger issues!

Times are tight. I don't blame people for trying to save a few bucks by shopping around. But I DO MIND if you:

1. Use my knowledge, time, gear and services to make up your mind only to buy the same products I offer on the web.

2. Come back in and gloat about how you bought on the web AFTER wasting my time. I'm not going to be thrilled for you, just pissed. Ignorance is bliss.

3. Buy grey market goods on the web that I sell locally and then resell them, killing local sales I have been working on.

4. Buy something new on the web that you know I carry and then ask me to set it up or fix it. This is like going to McDonalds, only to bring it into another restaurant to eat it... Also, the end result of #3. I'm not going to get your grey market, broken crap fixed. Suffer.

Ask yourself this, do you like to work for free? I lose thousands of dollars a year because somebody wants to save a few bucks on local sales tax. It's a wash because you'll have to pay shipping, get no warranty, possibly get burned and have zero local service. Mom & Pop shops close every day because many people don't get it. Why would you buy something you can't hear? I could easily close my shop and become a mail order "Ho". My site doesn't have a shopping cart because I like educating people and demoing systems that actually work. One on one relationships are key. Just because it's cheaper, doesn't mean you'll be better off. You'll just cobble together a bad sounding mess because "it was a good deal".

For those of you who are my clients, thanks. a lot! Business has been great because of you. I'm glad that you "get it" on more levels than one. I've been doing this for almost 16 years and I plan on bringing music into your home for many years to come. It's a heck of a lot of fun!

BTW, This rule should apply to everything you buy, wherever you live.

On that note, my pal Jonathan Halpern of Tone Imports coined a great new word!

NECROAUDIOPHILLIAC. One who scours estate sales to pilfer old, dead guy's stereos for profit. Nice! I submitted it to Urban Dictionary!

$995 Rega DAC better than the $11K dCS Debussy?

Here's the Rega DAC review from Positive Feedback. Loaded with digital nonsense words that confuse the hell out of me, but a positive review. You can skip the asinine techno speak and just come hear it at my shop (or your local Rega dealer).
The Leben RS-30EQ phono pre has been breaking in nicely but it looks like I'm going to have to bite the bullet and get in the Auditorium 23 SPU step up transformer so my Dynavector low output carts will sing.
I'm looking at a few new turntable lines simply because I want to show more cartridges. Kuzma is at the top of the "Want List". They have the Stabi SD table which holds two arms, sounds great and doesn't cost $20K.