Hi-fi, Fashion, and Rock’n’Roll
Iconic hi-fi manufacturer McIntosh and fashion designer John Varvatos are joining forces in hopes to spread the love of great sound to customers at Varvatos stores across the country. Both brands hope to bring customers closer to the rock’n’roll experience by bringing them closer to the music through a high-fidelity audio system. Varvatos’s relationship with McIntosh began at age 17, when he heard his first Mac system. Varvatos, an audio enthusiast, described how he felt listening to a hi-fi for the first time: “I thought it was the future then, and it’s the future now.”
In celebration of this partnership and the rock’n’roll lifestyle, Varvatos and McIntosh invited legendary producer Tony Visconti to discuss his early production career with artists such as David Bowie, T.Rex, and Thin Lizzy. The presentation took place at The Soho House in the Meatpacking District of Manhattan on Monday, September 26th. Visconti brought his own pressings of records from these artists, which were then played on a McIntosh only system. First in the rotation was Bowie’s “Heroes,” Track 3/Side 1 from the Heroes LP. Two minutes into playback, the needle on the MT10 turntable started to skip. Visconti handled the situation “like a boss” calmly explaining that sometimes excessive bass response can make the needle jump. Sales Trainer Ken Zelin rushed to the rescue, adjusting the knobs on the C50 Preamp EQ, which cured the skipping problem. Per Zelin, the McIntosh gear arrived at the very last second to the Soho House so McIntosh “did not have enough time to set up the system correctly before the event.”
Varvatos stores will carry the following McIntosh gear: MA6600 Integrated Amplifier, MT10 Turntable, XR200 Speakers, MCD301 CD Player, MEN 220 Room Acoustics Corrector, and the MXA60 Mini-system. Varvatos store employees are receiving the following training from McIntosh sales training representatives: Background information on the company and a discussion of the five core values of McIntosh, which include the importance of meters on McIntosh gear (Value #1) and that all McIntosh gear is made in the USA (Value #5).
Since Varvatos is a retail store, store layout does not provide for a dedicated “listening” area. Through integration in the store layout, McIntosh gear is being sold as a part of the Varvatos rock’n’roll fashion and lifestyle experience, rather than as a “stereo system”. While this may not turn patrons into audiophiles, it can certainly help the broader idea that good sound is cool. Whether or not this will lead to involvement with hi-fi gear in the long-term is left to question.