NFS Audio's Magic Potion

Parting the colorful wooden beads makes a sound like brushes against snare. I'm enveloped in soft green glow and the sweetest scents of liquor and jazz. I stand in the corner, trying to figure it all out. Two of the tallest speakers I've ever seen — vintage Acoustat 2+2s — climb all the way up to the ceiling. There's a glowing palm tree dancing between them. Along the walls are concert posters and all sorts of album art. To my right is a mirrored alcove, a bar area, holding many varieties of absinthe and other liquors I've never seen. The room is filled with smiles and everyone seems very comfortable, intoxicated. The space isn't set up for optimal listening. There are no rows of neatly arranged metal conference chairs. Instead there are couches and armchairs. In one, sits a man with his daughter in his lap. He taps his hand to the jazz, while the young girl nods her head in time to the snare hits. Together, they move from one seat to the next, and the girl immediately reacts to the difference in sound. The father — I learn his name is Marty — explains to his daughter, Briana, that they have just moved into a better listening position. "It sounds so different," she says.

A man walks over to me. He's wearing a bright red shirt, which is dancing with yellow stars, green cacti, and blue hippos. Or blue rhinos. Or blue something. I can't tell. "Can we liquor you up?" he asks.

I already feel drunk.

Though tempted, indeed, I decline, explaining that I've not been well. The show and the late nights have taken a toll on me. Instead of some green fairie elixir, then, he offers me a bottle of water, which I am very happy to accept. I'm led to a backroom where a treasure chest of vinyl is set up. In the center of the room is a great orange beanbag. A young boy is collapsed in its warmth, drowning in comfort and music. Behind him and to the right is a tub completely filled with colorful bottles of alcohol. On the walls behind the LP shelves are a million flashing lights — red, green, and gold swirls. More bottles of wine, absinthe, and I don't know what else. More speakers, more components of all sorts.

We take a stroll through the albums. "You like Tom Waits?"
"I love Tom Waits," I reply.

It was an accident, a happy accident. NFS (Not For Sale) Audio is not supposed to be here.

Anton Dotson (aka Buddha on the Stereophile forum) and his good friend, Michael Alazard, were only supposed to be attendees. But when they received "Exhibitor" badges in the mail, they figured it was just meant to be. "Plus," says Michael, "we had wife-approval."

Their wives will be here in a little while. The boy on the beanbag, it turns out, is Anton's son, Jake. "Are you having a good time, Jake?"
"Yes." He nods his head and shakes my hand, happily.

The man who I noticed first — the man enjoying music with his young daughter — is Anton's brother-in-law. This is a family get-together.
"Yes," Anton agrees. "The whole family is here, and it evens feels like a reunion of old friends. People who we've met over the years are coming by and having a great time."

Anton notices me marveling at the towering speakers. "They're vintage '78s," he tells me.
"How long have you had them?"
"Ten days."
"Ten days?"
"Yes, we found them for sale over another internet forum, and we thought they'd be great for the show. Only problem was we forgot to measure them. We got them in here on Tuesday, and we just couldn't get them in. When we came back on Wednesday, prepared to hammer them down with a rubber mallet, they somehow fit."

Like it was just meant to be.

Anton drops the needle onto a Tom Waits album for me. I sit and listen. The system is very musical. I am with Tom Waits as he stumbles onto the heart of Saturday night.

Almost. The way I'm feeling now, the only place I'll be stumbling is into bed. I get up and thank Anton and Michael for their hospitality.

"Come back later. We'll concoct a magical healing potion for you."
"I'd like that very much," I say.

Wes Phillips's picture

Anton's room was fun and gets my vote for the place I most wanted to hang. Dagnabbed job!

Jon Iverson's picture

Wish these guys lived in my neighborhood. Reminded me of a dorm room for grown-up audio geeks.