Re-Tales #8: A Lyrical Denouement

Lenny Bellezza at Lyric Hi-Fi in early February 2021.

New York's Lyric Hi-Fi & Video is one of high-end audio's longest-standing and most legendary institutions. In a recent telephone conversation, Leonard Bellezza, Lyric's owner and president, confirmed what many in this industry have long heard rumored: Lyric is closing.

In 1956, Michael Kakadelis, known as Mike Kay, took a job at a hi-fi store. Kay acquired the business three years later and moved it to Lexington Avenue on the Upper East Side, where it stayed until it closed. Kay was a degreed engineer. He fixed and built audio components (footnote 1).

Lyric had a custom cabinet shop in its basement and assembled complete stereos in credenzas, with turntables by Sherman Fairchild and speaker drivers by Bozak. Lyric also built cabinets for Saul Marantz. The cabinet shop continued into the '90s, and Lyric became an early pioneer of custom install.

Lyric was, arguably, the original high-end store. "Because we were dealing with a very wealthy clientele," Bellezza said, "we were able to sell more upscale products." It wasn't just those well-to-do Upper East Siders, either: As much as 60% of Lyric's business came from international clients, especially Europeans. As Lyric hit its prime, the whole United States had only a couple of high-end dealers equivalent to Lyric: Sound Components of Miami, run by Peter McGrath, and Christopher Hansen Ltd. in Los Angeles. They, too, served an international clientele—from South America and Asia, respectively—alongside locals.

Once a market existed, manufacturers began creating innovative, expensive audio components. Mark Levinson made his first product, the LNP-2 preamp, in his garage and brought it to Lyric, which sold it and ordered more. Lyric raised the profiles of Levinson and Bob Carver, whose Silver Seven amps were voiced on-site, and helped build demand for products from Audio Research, Magnepan, Nelson Pass's Threshold, and MartinLogan.

Lyric's close ties weren't limited to audio companies. They also included the audiophile press: The Absolute Sound's Harry Pearson; Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. Bellezza was Kay's consigliere and handled politics and egos. "Other 'copycat' dealers opened up," Bellezza said, "because they saw our success and started taking chances on stocking more expensive gear." The high-end scene expanded.

Kay hired Bellezza in 1976, when the latter was just 22. Bellezza had been working part-time at a different audio store while studying engineering and physics at night. He wanted to become a Navy pilot. He also worked as a union usher at Madison Square Garden, Yankee Stadium, Shea Stadium, and Nassau Coliseum. He saw, he told me, "every concert you ever wish you saw."

Bellezza describes Kay as "an emotional Greek" who could be ornery but taught him a lot. "Don't sell them what they want; sell them what they need" was one of Kay's shared mantras.

When Bellezza first visited Lyric, he did so intending to get thrown out, for fun, he told me. Instead, he got hired.

In 1983, Lyric took over the back of a neighboring store. The acoustics were upgraded, including the installation of "floating" concrete floors on top of 3 inches of compressed fiberglass. "Every room was a box within a box," Bellezza said. "Not a single wall was parallel." Mark Levinson and experts from the University of Oslo were involved with the design, Bellezza told me. Engineers Richard (Dick) Sequerra and Mitch Cotter assisted (footnote 2). Sequerra maintained that the concrete needed to be very moist when poured; otherwise it would ring like a bell, Bellezza told me. Cotter maintained just the opposite. When the concrete truck arrived, Cotter told the workers that he "needed to taste the concrete." He found it too moist and refused delivery. The furious concrete workers had to be restrained.

In 1993, Lyric took over the front half of that neighboring business, adding another 800 square feet, for 3600 total—palatial for a Manhattan store. In 2000, Kay bought the space. In 2004, Bellezza and Lyric employee Dan Modoro bought Kay out of the business, but Kay held on to the real estate. In 2018, Modoro retired and Bellezza acquired his share of the business. When Kay passed in 2012, the space passed to Kay's son. It is now up for sale.

New York City is a difficult market for any retail business. Recently, it has been an even harder market for audio, Bellezza said. "New York ranks among cities with the highest per capita income, but in audio it's one of the poorest-performing areas for manufacturers," Bellezza told me.

Bellezza was planning to close Lyric nearly two years ago but decided not to. COVID? It gave Lyric's business an unexpected boost. "Everybody moved out to their vacation homes and upgraded their stereos," Bellezza said.

Pandemic-based business, though, is not sustainable, and longer-term trends are not hopeful, he believes: "High-end audio is not a growing market. Our customers are graying."

Lyric could have done more to attract next-generation clients, he admits, but that ship seems to have sailed: "Nobody young is buying stereo, or very few young people. They all listen to music on their phones, and Sonos in their homes. They don't know what quality is, and they're not interested."

There's an exception though, a special circumstance: Hi-fi runs in families. In a few cases, Bellezza said, he's been providing service to three generations of audiophiles: his main clients, their parents, and their children.

Bellezza has no regrets: "It was a wonderful life."

When the earthquake that was high-end audio shook the American audio scene, Lyric was its epicenter. Now Lyric, like much else, is passing on.

Footnote 1: See Kay's Stereophile obituary here.

Footnote 2: Cotter and Sequerra both had a hand in the design of the legendary Marantz 10B tuner, among their many contributions to hi-fi.

Jack L's picture


"Lyric" means musically poetic ! It shows Mike Kay or whoever put up the stores name "Lyric" was indeed thoughtful. Could not be more appropriate name for this music related business.

Also, Lyric store logo looked so musical: an ancient Greek string instrument like a U-shaped harp with strings tied to its cross bar.

When I first looked at the store logo, I thought it was a replica of the logo of the world-renowned grand pianos: Steinway !!!!

Lyric Hi Fi is now gone as nothing physical will be immortal. Yet its fame might be eternal !

Jack L

RobertSlavin's picture

Lyric is not the only audio retailer going away or withdrawing in New York City. Even before COVID Stereo Exchange and Sound by Singer, powerful retailers 20 or more years ago, had become by appointment only. Bright Home Theater and Audio seems to also just be by appointment and mainly doing installations now. What first floor high-end audio is left in New York City, the most prominent city in the Americas?! I can only think of Park Ave. Audio.

Of course, it is possible that Stereo Exchange and Sound by Singer still do pretty well in their new arrangements.

Stereophile needs to talk about the decline of high end audio retailing, why this is, and what the future will bring.

I believe Stereophile's own circulation is down by about 25% or 30% over the last 10 years (I'm sure an editor will correct this). What is the future of the hobby if fewer and fewer people are buying the products? Or could there be a renaissance, as there has been for turntables?

CG's picture

I think people have moved on. Just as they have with bowling and to a certain degree with golf. Going to live sporting events and even concerts is an expensive proposition now, too.

I also think that the music and recording biz has also made hifi somewhat obsolete. The business has always aimed its product and the presentation values toward what the technology would do and what the market wanted. Or, thought they wanted.

At first, recordings were played back by entirely mechanical means. The productions were aimed toward that. Listening to music was a focused activity, pretty much, often done in a living room.

Then, 78 rpm records played back through electronic means came along. The production values focused on that and playing through AM radios. Still done in living rooms or equivalent.

Next, the vinyl solutions were improved in some ways. People had somewhat higher fidelity systems, but still listened to them as a focused activity.

Later, 45 rpm singles came along for "pop" music and car radios became more of a thing. Then, transistor radios made music listening even more portable.

Eventually, cassettes and FM radio got everybody's attention. OK, most people's. Home stereo was still big, but people were just as likely to have a fancy car audio system as in their living room. Maybe more likely. Younger people still played music in their bedrooms and dorm rooms.

All through these steps, the music production changed to match the playback technologies. For a long time, there was a parallel path between cool home sounds and listening in the car.

Then... The CD came along, with the idea of even more appealing home reproduction. For the car, too. But, around the same time, technology allowed for very personal playback, usually through various kinds of headphones. First it was Walkman type players, then eventually digitally based machines. The floodgates really opened when digital downloads, legal or otherwise, gave people access to all the music they could ask for.

Then, as had already happened for a century or so, the music production adjusted to music and engineering that was aimed primarily for playback through iPods, phones, and headphones. People no longer listened in their living rooms as a focused activity. They had music as a background sound everywhere they went.

The thing is, what sounds most appealing to most people through these pocket playback systems often sounds not so hot the played back through a fancy stereo system. So, just why would anybody buy an expensive playback system that takes up valuable home space and infringes on everybody else in the household who are doing their own thing? Especially when it might make the music you like sound worse?

Jack L's picture

.... on everybody else in the household who are doing their own thing?" quoted CG.

Very thoughtful comment ! Do you think so so many audio fans might be too self-centred, neglecting their own folks around them ? I concur !

Of course, not "everybody" would be so selfish as to take its own music enjoyment over & above anything else. Your truly is one who consider family always comes first.

I installed my audio den down my basement since one day 3 decades back when we moved in my house. Why? I know too well my wife does not like loud noises (who doesn't anyway?). I care !

So home sweet home upstairs & music sweet music downstairs in my basement !

Not "everyone" would buy expensive playback system. I am one-of-a-kind that does not buy any expensive system! I'vee design/built or upgraded my audios since day one decades back, thanks to my addiction to classical vinyl music, backed up by my electrical/electronic engineering background.

Love your music & play smart ! Why should I render myself so helpless to finance audio vendors with my hard earned money given I think I know the game well enough.

I'm sure I am not alone in DIYing audios.

Listening is believing

Jack L

Twigs's picture

Being an NYC boy the world was my oyster having some great stereo shops around me. I get up early and get to the shops when they opened so I could learn and experience audio bliss.
Today the issue becomes threefold:
1) The opportunity to listen to music the way it was presented is long gone.
2) Regardless of age, people that I have contact with have no clue what music can sound like and can become a source of pure entertainment.
3)Prices of equipment have become beyond stupid. How do you expect to draw people in when a decent integrated amp costs 1000 plus?

Time for a change in the industry

Kal Rubinson's picture

What first floor high-end audio is left in New York City, the most prominent city in the Americas?! I can only think of Park Ave. Audio.

Their front door is at street level but, just like Innovative Audio, their facilities are all below street level.

tonykaz's picture

Audio was a great hobby, back in the day.

Gear was on a constant 'improve' trajectory, a few outstanding vinyls were being released in small batches and prices were not like what we see featured in Analog Planet Stratospheres. phew!

It was ( and still seems ) wonderful to spend a Saturday visiting Audio Shops with friends auditioning new gear, making well planned purchases, admiring the Displayed latest Nak cassette deck offings that we all read about. Audio was a fun place !

Detroit had Stereoland, Audioland, Audio Dimensions ( The ARC Dealer with the loveable Harry Francis ) , Absolute Sound ( the LINN Dealer ), Audio One ( Ken Maverick & Nick Ferrar ), Audio Threshold, High-Fidelity Workshop, Tec Hifi ( Nikko & Ohm in every home ), plenty of Radio Shacks and a whole lot more !!

Now-a-days ( 2020 ) my peers are outfitting 35' Sailboats for Blue Water Caribbean adventuring, their Frozen North Audio Gear remains stored. ( or is being sold to excited & anxious Asians ).

My generation went from 78s to Shirt Pocket.

I'm here at Stereophile watching where personal Audio is heading next, I suspect it's headphones and Active Loudspeakers.

Stereophile remains Viable ( and still the best ) because of a small handful of outstanding writers: Mr.JA, Mr.HR, Mr.KM, Mr.KR along with a scattered brilliance shining thru. "Paint by Numbers" reviews are getting rare.

The wonderful Audio hobby will continue as long as there is great writing describing and revealing it.

Tony in Venice Florida

rbafna's picture

"New York ranks among cities with the highest per capita income, but in audio it's one of the poorest-performing areas for manufacturers". What I find so odd about this is that New Yorkers will spend $15,000 on Sub-Zero fridges and $6000 on Wolf gas ranges which nobody actually uses, but won't buy a decent stereo. Maybe awareness is part of the problem.

CG's picture

I think you're on to something.

Most anybody can talk to their social peers about a refrigerator or range. Even if it's to complain about the cost. That's true whether you're talking about a product on sale at Home Depot or the pricey ones you mentioned.

But, how many people have social peers who give a fig about audio in any form where you can talk to them about it?

I've found that even the people who do care and have some kind of moderately priced home audio system are so violently opinionated that you can't carry out any kind of conversation with them. I'm not talking about arguing over the advantages of horns and SET amplifiers versus electrostatics and high power solid state amplifiers. I'm talking about simple stuff, even if it is just "Hey! Did you hear the reissued version of Abbey Road?"

There's something about the audio hobby that doesn't lend itself much to positive social interaction these days. Enthusiastic energy has been replaced by aggressive defensiveness. That wasn't the case a while back, like in the heyday of Lyric. Maybe all hobbies have become this way - dunno!

OT: What's also crazy about those Sub-Zeros and the Wolf products is that in a couple years, those models will be passé and will be replaced to keep up with the fashion of the day. It's worse than hifi products!

Jack L's picture

......the fashion of the day. It's worse than HiFi products" quoted by CG.


Really ?

My GE 'Custom' fridge still works fine down my basement sundry room after 32 years & my LG fridge freezer still maintains down -21C after 16 years in my kitchen. So my wife, th kitchen boss, must be too dump in her kitchen fashion !

Me too, I still wear casually my Lacoste tee shirts, soft-leather sneakers, & Ralph Lauren Polo shirts which I bought many years back.

Yes, we should have replaced all those old fashion stuffs, but we don't! Why? Value lasts !

Likewise for my HiFi. I've chosen 50-year young vintage Telefunken ECC83 tubes in my design/built phono-preamp since day one quite a few years now. Why I don't change them? Value lasts !

Jack L

Jack L's picture


That's life, my friend. You know who decides on buying expensive kitchen appliances? The kitchen boss, of course: your Sprouse !

New Yorkers make most money? It depends on what what walks of life one is in. For money marketeers, yes, they make their fortunes on Wall Street. But for hi-tec guys, go to the Silicon Valley.

I know too well. My younger son & his sprouse managed to own 2 houses while raising 2 boys just moved down there from the Great White North 15 years ago. Sure earned money, not so vulnerable like the money markets. You don't want to know how expensive are the houses purchase & rental costs there ! Thanks to those gigantic hi-tech companies all located there !

Jack L

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

Some audiophiles are women, other audiophiles are LGBTQ, some are single, and yet others are in equal relationships with their partners and this "sprouse" thing that you talk about as universal law does not apply.

CG's picture


I know a number of men who are the fancy kitchen enthusiasts of the house, too.

There may be more to the idea that kitchens are generally considered, rightly or not, to be integral components of houses and therefore are investments that people can rationalize. Most people need a kitchen, right? That even affects the actual financing of a kitchen versus that for a home audio system. (I'd argue that a better audio system is as worthy of a home improvement loan as an expensive range...)

Golden Ears's picture

At 16 years old, 1979 , I wandered into Lyric with a 55mph gas powered skateboard Lenny embraced that concept being a guy who loved gas powered vehicles. I had a bunch of Classic rock albums, wanted to get a modest system for $1500. Lenny said, , just buy this (B&W a decent turntable , and integrated Creek or similar amp). Lenny was just happy to play rock and roll instead of audiophile pressings.

Me: Hey , what's in that room back there?
Lenny: You don't want to go in that room.
Me: Wow those speakers look like floating Pyramids!

Well he played The Doors Soft Parade and for the first time ever a recorded voice seemed almost real, in the original recorded space. I bought those Dick Sequerra Pyramid Metronome 3 speakers 13 months later, and bought a Bryston 4b, Mitsubishi LT-30 linear tracking turntable with Dynavector Ruby moving coil cartridge, Apt Holman preamp, and that system served me well for the next 20 years (err 4 years until I got 3 bryston 4b and Infinity Reference Standard RS1-B and a pair of Entec SW-1) - my hands were shaking as I wrote the biggest check I had ever written ($2950)... I sold the speakers and bought Infinity Reference Standard RS1-b that I bought off of Sid Marks for $3100. Turns out, everything I had bought from Lenny in 1980 sold for nearly double in 1998. Nothing ever broke, and even the Bryston amp I bought used with an expired warranty 2 years after the purchase they had a 20 year RETROACTIVE warranty introduced . I sent it in 10 years later for a slight buzz and the entire amplifier innards were replaced....for free.

Lenny never sold me anything I did not need, everything was sold to me to fix problems caused by another store awful Borger's Audio on 2nd Ave. I asked Lenny about vacuum tubes, and he said ...well for rock you can get by with solid state. And here I am now owning vacuum tubes and oddly being pulled into listening to other genres I don't like as much as rock... should have listened to Lenny. I launched two DJ businesses in NYC just to buy more high end gear..hahah.

I was a DJ to all the all women's colleges around the Boston Area, and there is no doubt that I would not have had so many gorgeous girlfriends if not for my Infinity Reference Standards being set up in my Apts. on Commonwealth Ave. and Newbury Street. Guess I owe that to Lenny as well.

Lenny, Fantastic guy , sharp, to the point, problem solving person a good guy I'd like to thank. Lenny allowed me to enjoy music without having to learn abut audio and without making purchasing blunders and system mismatches.

In the end, some 40 years later, I ended up knowing way too much about audio. I had insomnia and y solution was to read copies of Stereophile and The Abso!ute Sound to bore myself to sleep- works like a charm, try reading a review on phono pre-amp, or a power cable....zzzzz. No sleeping pill needed . The side effect was I learned so much about audio.

Here's the odd thing. After eventually becoming an audio tuner for High end shows (RMAF, CES, T.H.E. Show Newport Beach ...etc) ...and re-setting up systems for people which inadvertently end with with speakers being moved out of place. I now design super high end full range consoles with audiophile gear and speakers Pre positioned for optimum imaging that can't be messed with! There are some real advantages to this. But you need a recessed middle, the turntable has to be wall mounted , and you need incredibly good crossover components- in the end you can easily beat free standing speakers that are not optimized (Yes at 95-99% of the rooms at audio shows ...where they have years to get it right, with the best audio professionals in the world... all competing, almost none of them can get a system to image properly.) But if you design a console right, with the only instruction to push it up against a wall with no obstructions within 6 feet of the speakers, you can get nearly perfect imaging every time and perfect phase for the bass, all that has to be adjusted is the bass output and fletcher munson loudness curve.

Micheal Kay had it right all along. And that 'Marantz 10b tuner... I listen to a one owned by the Senior Executive VP of the Los Angeles and Orange County Audio Society every other week as I upgrade and tune his system in a battle with Production Master tapes vs an extremely elaborate digital chain . Only Lenny could have sold and set up a awesome sounding system so I wouldn't ever have to learn anything more than flip the switch to on. . Now You practically need to have a PHD in audio just to have the same thing that would be less reliable . I wonder about Duelund capacitors , integer upsampling vs DSD, outboard reel to reel vacuum tube amplifiers for tape heads, matching Fletcher Munson loudness contours to speaker efficiency and RT-60 times, why De-oxit doesn't sound as good as anhydrous alcohol for cleaning tube sockets, the use of sound absorbing material on car audio system dashboards, short plate vs . long plate 12aX7 Mullards, lofgren b vs linear tracing arms, designing a predictive linear tracking system that uses a laser to measure the upcoming groove pitch, why shanti hologrphs actually work, why combining different power conditioners is the only way to get power that sounds like music...

But most of all, what ever it takes to bring out the characteristics in fine musical instruments that make them so communicative and deeply blissful and how to preserve and reproduce that in the audio chain.

All while taming the hardest problem in the audio chain, making speakers properly couple with an imperfect room to get as close to perfection as possible - more strides can be done here for less money than anything else.

It was so much easier when you have a guy like Lenny to make those sage decisions for you rather than having to spend a lot of time listening to comparisons than music .

Lyric will be missed. They were a force in audio.

Now oddly enough I'm helping others with the knowledge I got from Lenny which was one of the very few high-fi stores that knew how to set up systems right.

MT_Guy723's picture

Your comments were very well stated. I'm not in the audiophile realm after many, many years of enjoying higher end sound quality, but I got here through friends and mentors who know something about quality sound. They, and a subscription to Stereophile, helped me know what to look for when I needed to replace or upgrade any of my components. My original system I bought back in 1975 when I graduated from college all came from the Budget Components area of Sterophile's Recommended Components - all bought from the same retail store in Great Falls, MT. This story about Lyric's history, its people and now its closing sort of tears at me in a couple ways. It reminded me of the day I had enough money saved for that first really nice system... and how sad I was when that store closed several years after that. I'll bet it was like taking a drink out of a firehose when you walked into Lyric and started talking with somebody who knew a lot about what you were interested in. Conversation like tinfoil in a microwave... you were lucky to have them.

Golden Ears's picture

Now I'm putting audio systems in Pop up shops at Tesla Chargers (Palm Desert and LA), the only place where people have time to kill. We used to kill time wandering into shops like lyric, now no one has the time for that.

I'm also going to be installing a tube buffer for Tesla car systems, with the hope that people will want the type of systems in their home that give the great sound Lyric used to make . I've become "mobile Lenny" flying around to tune audio systems and keep people from diving down rabbit holes that only have gophers at the bottom.

But my conversations with Lenny were always memorable, and now I understand why to him it was all worth it- seeing a persons jaw drop and always hearing the EXACT same comment that never gets old, "I really had no idea, no idea, that it was even possible for music to be like this."

Beam me up Scotty, turn on a truly well matched , properly room coupled audio system and you will travel around the globe in seconds, and through time.

Real hifi is a transporter to the original event, to a world full of emotion in music you never knew was there, a place where total envelopment by the artists is the norm not the exception. The other day, I put to the test to see that my phone number spelled DISCO-DRAFT (347)-263-7238 (like the wind that comes out of a woofer). Once you get into audio, you'll never get out lol.

MT_Guy723's picture

There have been a few times in my life where, while listening, I got 'chicken skin' from what I was hearing. When the newest Beatles' remasters came out and I got my first few in the mail and instantly put on Revolver and "I'm Looking Through You" and turned it up a little. Standing in the sweet spot, Ringo's drums imaged vertically in the soundstage and I was stunned. Horizontally... there they were exactly in the positions as seen on The Ed Sullivan Show. Another time it was Hendrix and the clean remaster of "Red House" with no layers of studio garbage on top of his original sound. One of my favorites of his every since it first came out, and this listening made me feel the electricity shooting out of his fingers. And the anniversary remaster of Time Out - ALL of the songs, but especially Take Five... the cymbals in the drum kit on every song with the pop of that snare right there in my listening room - POW! Right in the kisser! That accuracy has always made me FEEL the musicians and the engineers working so hard to capture what they were laying down at the time. That sound made me feel like I was right there with 'em. When you feel that deep a connection to music you love... what's that worth? It has been the joy in my life ever since I was about 5 or 6 years old and listening at our cousins' house across town to Ray Charles "What'd I Say"... like 5 times in a row because I asked them to - before they said "No more! We have other stuff to play for you." I can remember that moment like it was yesterday and I'm 68 as I write this. That 'system' was one of those little 4-part jobbies that sat on top of their upright piano with a speaker on each side and the turntable and stereo receiver in the middle. It sounded great to me... and over the years that's all that mattered was whether I liked what I was hearing or not. The joy my music has provided me is immeasurable to the point that I have to remind myself that not everybody loves it like I do. I suppose it's like colors where what you love is perfect for you... and it doesn't have to be perfect for anybody else. Foreground listening is basically almost extinct as a pastime, and I don't understand anybody who would prefer the sound of earbuds compared to that produced by a music system of any serious level. I upgraded my outfit to a CD player replacing my old cassette system last summer, and while I love the convenience, I'm not sure the sound is better even though I improved the front speakers and the amplification level in them with the new deck. Although the deck's D/A converter is audiophile level, the warmth of the analog sound was gone. My stack has a Carver deck I bought back in the mid-nineties and by recording a titch hot on the Metal setting really put down a seriously good sound level on my homebrew tapes. Vehicles offer such a good sound reproduction environment that when you get the system right, your enjoyment of driving elevates substantially. I'm betting your folks are very grateful for your assistance. I sure as hell would be.

Old Audiophile's picture

"Oh, it's (Prozac) time again. You're gonna leave me. I can see that far away look in your eyes." Sing it again, Ray!

All of us lamenting the closings of our favorite neighborhood stereo shops, the slow & painful demise of stereo shops everywhere and reliving the good 'ole days, sound like that bunch of 80 years olds tonykaz is talking about, sitting at the end of the bar crying in our beers. At our cores, we are all lovers of music. This is what spurred our respective escapades into the world of audiophilia and what continues to sustain us to this day; isn't it? Whether a lover of Classical, Country & Western, Jazz, Folk, Rock & Roll, all of the above or whatever, there is nothing like listening to our favorite tunes in the open air over a nice sound system; is there? Nothing like reminiscing and re-visiting our favorite concerts; is there? Top-shelf headphones are certainly nice but, speaking for myself, I much prefer the open air experience, whether in the living room, the man cave or what have you. So does my spouse and virtually all of my friends who are true lovers of music and owners of audiophile sound systems of their own. Sadly, we are all about the same age, with a few exceptions that help me maintain my optimism for humanity.

I have a grand-nephew who started becoming more than a little interested in music in his mid-teens. He was aware of my love of music and that I had a respectable sound system at home. He'd never seen or heard it because he had yet to visit. We live far apart. Every once in a while, he would approach me with his Walkman or MP3 or whatever gadget he was devoted to at the time and say something like: "Hey Uncle; listen to this! It's a new band I discovered that I think you'd like, too." His mother and her brother, my niece & nephew, did the same thing when they were kids. On more than one occasion, that new band he'd discovered and was so in to at the time was Led Zeppelin, Steely Dan, Aerosmith or somebody the old Uncle was already quite familiar with. It never ceased to amaze him (or his mother & her brother when they did the same thing growing up) when I would respond something like: "They're not new! That's Led Zeppelin. I've got some of their albums." "You mean records?", he'd say. "Yeah! Those round things you put on a turntable.", I'd respond. "You mean a record player?", the kid would ask. "Yeah.", I'd say, and quickly & facetiously add: "And I've got a lot of those other little round shiny things you put into a machine to hear music with, too. You know! CDs?" Now, THAT, he was more familiar with.

Occasionally, we'd have focused and quite enjoyable conversations about sound systems, audiophile components and, basically, the quality of sound reproduction. I could tell by the look on his face at these times, a certain incredulousness as to how anything could possibly sound better or that much better than whatever convenient, carry it with you everywhere gadget he was enamored with at any given time. On his first visit to my place a couple years ago, that skepticism was instantly washed away. He had me listen to a new pair of ear buds he'd recently purchased that he said cost a lot of money (probably not more than one or two hundred bucks) and were the best on the market. Surprisingly, the sound was, indeed, impressive. I knew he wanted me to say or was hoping I would say something like: "Wow! That's as good as my system!" However, I politely suggested he take a seat in the sweet spot of my living room and listen to a little something I played for him on my system (you know; that old fashion sound system) and tell me what he thought. It only took a handful of seconds for his jaw to drop to his chest in disbelief. One of those rare times he was rendered speechless. All he uttered was one "WOW"! Maybe the old uncle knew a little something after all.

The moral of this story is that manufacturers of audiophile equipment really should do everything within their respective powers to keep local stereo shops in business and more. They should do everything possible to help them thrive. Maybe by fronting some or a good portion of the inventory? Don't know. However, I do know that it was these local stereo shops that were responsible for my audiophile addiction and the continued decline of shops like this does not bode well for the industry's future. It's similar to how Major League Baseball saw a significant decline in avid Baseball fans when they stopped televising day games kids could watch before bedtime, including the playoffs and the World Series! Really? What marketing genius came up with that idea?

This is the point, isn't it? Youngsters nowadays know good sound when they hear it. They've got the ears for it. For those who like music, why not cultivate the LOVE of music? I think it's a safe bet that most kids these days have never heard a respectable hi-fidelity sound system. Why not make it easy for them?

Cassettivity's picture

Just throwing a possibility out there based on little to no actual industry knowledge: maybe young people can't stand these grumpy store owners? I've had a few pretty frustrating NYC store experiences. In one, I purchased a $6k amp, yet when reaching back out for future purchases or with questions, either received email responses weeks later, or never. So, I spent the subsequent $6k via online resources (direct with PS Audio, or with Cable Co, etc). In another, I sat in for a demo of a $40k CD player where the store owner used a terribly noisy copy of Kind of Blue for the A/B between CD & LP. Not the kind of behavior that would encourage someone like me to stand by them. I know 4-figure customers are lame, but maybe this just indicates that something needs to change. Maybe they can't rely on 5-figure+ customers any longer? Thoughts?