Philadelphia Retailer Doug White on Tidal Audio Loudspeakers

Last week, we shared a conversation between John Atkinson and Philadelphia-area audio retailer Doug White (of The Voice That Is) that centered around audio retailing. Here's the second, and final conversation from our Philly trip. In this video, JA and Doug are joined by Stereophile writer Herb Reichert as they discuss the new Akira loudspeaker from German manufacturer Tidal Audio. Doug has been a fixture at regional audio shows the past few years, demonstrating Tidal speakers. (It is important to note that the high-end manufacturer Tidal Audio has no relation to Tidal the streaming service.)

Prior to filming this conversation, we all listened to the system visible in the background of this video. The system consisted of midnight black Tidal Audio Akira loudspeakers ($215,000/pair), Signal Projects Atlantis speaker cables ($8500), a Tidal Audio Prescencio Reference preamplifier ($77,900), Tidal Audio Impulse monoblock amplifiers ($66,200), and a combination of Tidal Audio and Signal Projects cables throughout. The digital source consisted of an Aurender N10 music server ($8500) feeding data to a Bricasti M1se DAC ($10,000). The analog source consisted of a TW-Acustic Anniversary turntable ($22,000) with a TW-Acustic 10.5 tonearm ($5490), a Transfiguration Proteus cartridge ($6000), and a TW-Acustic Mat ($500). The components sat on a StillPoints ESS GRID rack ($8600-12,100; varies depending on configuration) with StillPoints Ultra SS ($249 each) and Ultra 6 ($899 each) isolators. The room was treated with StillPoints Aperture Panels ($699–$749 each).

tonykaz's picture

I once did the same thing, open a "limited" open to the public auditioning room, in my home, soon afterward I opened a retail showroom. I didn't last long. Esoteric Audio Farmington Frills, Michigan in Orchard 12 Plaza.

I'm not a "Social", I'm an Analytical Industrialist.

Working with the Public, showing-off nice gear was fun for a while, meeting all the local Audiophile types, tweakers that DIY'd superb gear, Factory Reps, doing both CES Shows as an Importer, Manufacturer and then as a Retailer, kinda heady stuff.

I discovered Retailing to be the most difficult part of being in Audio!, even though I'd get 50 points which wasn't enough ( in my mind ).

The Landlord, the Phone & Yellow Pages, heating & AC, taxes, Accountant, Mag. Adverts ( Audio Mag.), sales people, damaged goods, trade-ins ( that I immediately shipped to Dave Wasserman ), Auditioning time, Wild Turkey and Rich-Rare booze. Phew, it's costly. ( Plus I had to have: "One to Show-Two to Go" of every line ---Phew ! 30-60-90 day terms -- ouch! )

In 1985 we shut the entire operation down, I returned to GM Corp as one of their traveling Manufacturing Troubleshooters, never looked back. ( sort of )

Now, if I visit an Audio Dealer, I'll buy "something" before I leave, I know what that dealer is coping with.

But I never quite knew what the Customers were coping with, why they'd buy the Monster Cable Alpha 1 Phono Cartridge ( that the Absolute Sound just reviewed ) and not buy a much better Koetsu. I couldn't understand Customers.

I do understand machines so I returned to my comfort zone and pay that sticks.

Mr. White looks like he's having the "time of his life" showing his discovery and ownership of this Best System Ever ( Half-Million Dollars worth ), having the chance to sell some of this stuff, meeting all sorts of people and doing video content aimed at the world. He'll have "the" must hear system at Apoxnia and take his place next to PS Audio & Wilson's big systems ( who sounds best? )

I wish you well, Mr.White.

Tony in Michigan

ps. Munich Show is filled with gear like Tidal, they're lucky they found you. Normally, folks like Tidal think that CES ( now-a-days ) is a waste of time. ( as do I )

a.wayne's picture

I do agree with you Tony , but it's a bit different today , because this kind of exposure was not availale back in the 80's as there was no internet , the internet provides the necessary exposure without having to pay the gate keepers, much easier than before ..

Aside, I do agree on how difficult it is and do wish Mr White all the best ...


Staxguy's picture

Have you had a checkup, recently? I'm noticing certain mouth movements in this video, and hand movements in the previous.

Great set of interviews!

John Atkinson's picture
Staxguy wrote:
Have you had a checkup, recently? I'm noticing certain mouth movements in this video, and hand movements in the previous.

I can't talk without moving my hands, a trait I inherited from my mother.

Staxguy wrote:
Great set of interviews!

Thank you.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

rschryer's picture

Interesting video that got my mouth watering. I don't know if I'm alone in this regard, but in videos such as this one, in which a component's/system's sound is being discussed, I always hope to hear the component/system play music at some point in the video, both to try to get an "impression" of the gear's tonal balance, and because gear in action is inherently more fun to observe than gear doing nothing, no matter how impressive its appearance.

azjake's picture

While i first watched both parts of this interview i afterwards needed to pick up my jaw from the floor!
Surely this must be a DIFFERENT Doug White then the man i dealt with!

Mr. White was the recipient of a projected +$400k system purchase by me shortly after his "agreement" with Jorn and Tidal Audio...

When i balked at his rational for the prices he was quoting[ AS A SYSTEM mind you] he was ready to just walk away from continuing the discussion of the deal.
If fact, it took a most understanding and generous owner of Tidal Audio , who now is a close friend as is his wife and darling child, to save the deal!

At that time Doug's own repeating comments were that this was "just a part time business and not his main one" and therefore was always looking to do as little, time wise, as possible!

Jorn and his company engineers came all the way from Germany for three days to set up and install my first Tidal system, Doug had to leave after one day...I rest my case!

I am now on the second Tidal Audio/Kronos.Esoteric system with the prototype cables due to be announced shortly.It has been Jorn's unfailing courtesy, follow through and unique combination of friendship and Professionalism that keeps me, not Mr, White and his actions...

To each his own but after hearing this "self serving" report by Mr. White i can only say i hope now he is actually living up to his words.

Linkster1954's picture

This whole thing sounds a bit strange to me and is the complete opposite of my experience with Doug White. Nothing but professionalism and ethics in my dealings with Doug (not in your price range, but exceeding well over $100K in retail prices). Rather than go on with regard to the specifics in my experience, this is an example IMO of someone with a proverbial axe to grind. Also, the bit about being close friends with Jorn's "darling child" strikes me as a bit creepy if my speculation about the real motive behind this disingenuous comment was incorrect. That is the giveaway- try to come up with something more substantive and dispense with the friendship aspect. BTW, I am not so certain that your good friend Jorn would appreciate slanderous comments directed at his premiere North American dealer. That cannot help Tidal! Lastly, I do want to leave you with a complement on your choice of Tidal loudspeakers. I myself now own the Contriva G2 (previously Piano Cera, Piano Diacera) courtesy of Doug making this purchase possible for me.

calloway's picture

Like 'Linkster1954' experience with Mr.White is diametrically opposed to the experience of 'azjake'..Mr. White could not have been more professional during the entire purchase...and setting up of the Tidal Contriva Dicera-SE speakers I bought some 6 years ago.He flew to Virginia and spent 2-3 days helping me set up the speakers and positioning them in almost exactly the same position they sit today.He could NOT HAVE BEEN more professional.I seriously doubt the story line in azjake's post...I would not hesitate to call on Mr. White for any other Tidal purchase.....

rjthomas's picture

Similar to linkster and calloway, I have always found Doug White to be courteous and professional and cannot imagine any other experience. I have known and purchased Tidal components from Doug over the past several years including Tidal Piano Diacera speakers and electronics and later, the Contriva G2. Doug has guided me through the process of building an excellent music system that meets my audio needs. Doug is not only extremely knowledgeable about the brands he represents, but about music as well, the real reason that we engage in this hobby. I have always found that Doug has the highest ethical standards and is one of the truly great guys in the audio industry.