Record store day among the oldies
Old records that is…. I spent a couple of happy hours this afternoon in celebration of Record Store Day at the wonderful Whetstone Audio in east Austin. Boy, I had not realized how much modernization was going in the area until I drove around looking for parking but forget that, the pickings at Whetstone were excellent. Not quite keeping count, I racked up 15lps before I got a grip and started looking at the gear on show: Rega’s new R10 through a pair of Harbeth 5SL (and I think Naim amplification but I was too taken with the Rega to notice) blasting out great tunes, plus some great signs of record cleaning, tubes, dacs and a gorgeous Leben integrated that gives fresh meaning to the expression “to see is to want”.
Well ,my LP stash covered a great collection of Glenn Hughes/Trapeze old releases, including an early pressing of Medusa, a Kenny Burrell, Sinatra with Quincy Jones, The Communards, Bucky Pizarrelli, Ralph Towner, and a mint copy (honest, it’s not for me) of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack! But that’s the fun — I bought stuff on a whim, stuff I know I want and was happy to find, and some as gifts for people for whom a typical present is hard to determine. And the best part, once it was all racked up, Brian (the owner who seems more like a music fan than anything approaching a salesman) halved the price (hey, apparently it was a ‘clearance’ day) and I walked out with a stash for a barely believable $40.
If you are near Austin and love gear and music, Whetstone is well worth a visit. If you are not, the website is worth visiting since Brian adds tons of fun videos and insights to his pages routinely. He told me he’s making a living and I hope he continues to do so — this is the kind of space you simply cannot replicate online.
It’s Paul, the customer who purchased the Ortofon 2m from you today. You were gracious enough to let me come in and purchase a cartridge while you were closed. Thanks so much!
I was sending you an e-mail to let you know that everything sounds FANTASTIC. I didn’t really have a good reference point for what things should sound like since my first turntable, and let me tell you, that you have set a new standard for me to compare things by!
Not only did you hook me up with some awesome equipment, but you were very inviting in a place that would generally scare the shit out of your more “average” consumer (no music snobery!).
I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to help me out today. You have definitely gained a lifetime customer!
Brian, just wanted to share with you that all the effort was/is worth it. I sort of can’t believe it (because the big ‘ol turntable sounded preetty damn good with the EMT) but the Versalex thing friggin’ rocks. Righteous vinyl sounds explode out of that thing…..I guess its the synergy thing of all the pieces together….blah blah blah. It’s just fun playing records. I will be drinking rye tonight.
And rock out we did! Sent the kids to watch some garbage on tv in the attic. Cappi and I opened another bottle and went through stacks of LPs.
Set up of the Rega system was a breeze. Elegant, simple stuff. Sound was great from the start (million x better than anything I’ve ever had), and the sound got warmer and lusher as the night wore on.
We were blown away by the sound, music, and experience. She even more than me. Her knowledge of b-side R&B is another one of her great traits, and she was digging through the pile, singing and grinning.
Lots of great music played, including some of the gems you sent. The surprise hit of the night was an album I didn’t know before: Aretha Franklin’s Hey Now Hey. Love it.
Brian, the whole experience of buying this hi-fi was a breeze and a joy. I dig your approach to the gear and the music, and I look forward to some more LPs and gear from you in the future.
“I just bought a Naim integrated amp, Naim CD player and Rega turntable from Brian at Whetstone Audio. For “Anyone interested in getting the absolute best sound for the money, Brian is the guy. First rate personal service, encyclopedic knowledge of the equipment he sells, and focusing on what YOU want and need. Also, Brian is one of the few guys left who runs a high fidelity store the way you remember people used to do things when auditioning and buying high fidelity equipment used to be fun. He believes in what he sells, answers your calls personally, and patiently works with you to put a system together that will meet your expectations not just in price, but quality. Don’t even think about buying from the big box store or on the internet from some guy who’s trying to sell you something just to move it out of the warehouse. Been there, done that. Save yourself the trouble. Go see Brian.”
Thanks, again. Brent
San Antonio, Texas
I have been listening to my new Nait XS and I am loving
it. It is even more fun to listen to music now. As others appear to be
saying on various forums, I did notice that plugging it right into the wall
is better than plugging it into a power conditioner. Music seems more muted
and there is less life to it (something seems to be taken away) when it is
plugged into the conditioner. Anyway, I am happy with my choice and I plan
on using it for years to come.
You don’t know me. I just wanted to drop you a note and tell you that you have inspired me to move on with my dream of opening a little hifi shop in the downtown area here in Rockford, IL.
I found your web blog and really like it…that, and your attitude about hifi. I hope to get further along into upper end products as time goes on. I spent ten years in ‘specialty’ hifi back in the ’80s and have worked for manufacturers ever since. Last September I was laid off and have not found a ‘real’ job so I thought now would be the time to do what I’ve wanted to do for years…get back to 2-channel hifi.
Anyway, I’d heard of Whetstone Audio over the years but came upon your blog by chance. Glad I did. I hope business is great for you and you have success. I hope that I do too!
Thanks again ~
Hear. More. Music.
Doug, Do what you love, love what you do! This is a hard biz…. but it’s not “cubicle work” ; ) Good Luck!! bd
While I have never been to your store, ( I live in Tampa, FL), I have admired it via your web site for several years now and after seeing the recent pics from NY I felt I had to write. Just wanted to say thanks, as a long time music lover first and audiophile second, I really appreciate your approach and look forward to meeting you and seeing Whetstone Audio in person sometime in the near future. Never heard em, but I think I’ve got it bad for some DeVore Gibbon Super 8′s. I know you’re busy but would be interested in speaking to you in more depth regarding these speakers. Thanks again Brian.
I would like to comment that I have appreciated your guidance & access to listening to equipment. I think your approach & format is right on …. music first ….. & also making it simpler & fun towards selection of equipment, which can many times be too clinical & dry. I say keep up what you are doing!
Can’t say enough good about Whetstone. 7 years ago we were out to find our dream audio system. We visited shops in Arizona, California and Texas, testing speakers that alone ranged in price from $10K to $45K. We studied all of the audophile mumbo jumbo, ready to plop down ridiculous cash. Then we visited Whetsone, met Brian and the rest is history. 7 years and counting, Brian continues to be our only phone call for audio, records, and good conversation.
Whetstone Audio is an amazing store in this day and age. Run by a guy with a real passion for what he does and it shows. Brain is very knowledgeable and very approachable unlike some other high end audio stores. It is always a pleasure chatting with Brian and he will get my business for years to come.
San Antonio, TX
Brian of Whetstone Audio has created one of my favorite, if not best hifi shops I have visited anywhere. This store has a relaxed no pressure atmosphere where one can listen to music, look for records, or just hang about. Brian has a good ear for what real music sounds like and has brought in lines hifi gear from around the world that are capable of sounding closer to what music sounds like than much of the “highly vaulted” high dollar crap that is recommended by most of the audiophile press and hi-end hifi salons. In addition Brian has great taste in music and is generally spinning good tunes whenever I stop by.
I no longer live in Austin but I do make it a point to go and see Brian every time I am in town. If you are in the market for new hifi gear I highly recommend and going to visit Brian. Though if you are looking for a store that will cater to your audiophile neurosis or need to spend astronomical amounts on the latest tweak or gizmo this may not be the store for you but if you are a music lover I cannot think of a better hifi store to shop at.
Been shopping (or mostly just gawking at equipment) at Whestone as long as I’ve been in Austin, about 9 years. Very happy with everything I’ve picked up from there. Brian obviously puts a lot of thought into curating his selection. I like that he doesn’t try to sell a lot of frills and does an amazing job at finding really interesting price point items. I managed to put together a super classy, unbelievable sounding system on a student budget.
I’ve been a Whetstone client for over 10 years, and I’ve always been more than satisfied with the products and service. I don’t have a lot of money, so I’ve consistently shopped in the low end of what Brian has on offer. He’s always given me the care, attention and friendly attitude you would expect if I was spending thousands of dollars.
The store is a really fun place to hang out. Brian has excellent taste in music, so there is always some amazing record playing on some ridiculously good sounding set up. I’ve discovered a lot of my favorite records by walking into Whetstone and saying “what is this we’re listening to?”. There is also a nicely curated selection of ‘for sale’ vinyl, and I rarely leave without buying a record (sometimes right off of the turntable!)
The selection of gear is really interesting, as well. It’s all stuff Brian is personally excited about, and he’s usually been to visit the factory where the stuff is built. You can be sure that when you buy something at Whetstone, you’re getting as good an item as is available for the money you have to spend.
I keep meaning to e-mail you to tell you everything sounds beautiful. I’m currently listening to my OP of Chet’s “Stereo” on Riverside and I think the 2m has finally broken in and I couldn’t be more pleased with the set-up. I’ve been digging through my old favorites and finding so much more enjoyment out of them. Listening to all my Jazz stuff gives me goosebumps, thanks again for all your help man. I should note that all my music friends have become envious of my set-up and have told them all to stop by the shop.