Toronto Retailer Audio Excellence Has Moved

Imagine that you own an audio store, and business is good. Sales are up, and you'd like to take on additional lines. It's a good position to be in, but it has its challenges. You need more space, for sure. But what if the only suitable space that's available is some distance from the original store. Will customers follow you to the new location?

Adrian Low, owner of Audio Excellence, has had to face this challenge three times. The first store, which was basically just one room, was established in 1991, in an industrial plaza in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough, part of what's known as the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). In 1995, they moved into a charming old house in Richmond Hill, another Toronto suburb. This is where Audio Excellence really became established. But eventually space became a problem again: not just demonstration space, but storage space. So in 2011 it was announced that Audio Excellence was moving; the new store was in another industrial area, in the Toronto suburb of Vaughan. It offered more space, but the location was not ideal. Unless you lived in the Vaughan area, to get to the store you pretty well had to take Highway 407, a toll highway. Audio Excellence continued to thrive, but it was not getting much "drop in" traffic. And, wouldn't you know, they were once again running out of space.

In December, 2016, it was announced that Audio Excellence was moving again. The new location is in the town of Markham, also part of the GTA, in another industrial plaza, but this one more accessible, and the space increased from about 3700 square feet to 5500 square feet. For me, this new location is much preferable: it's about a 10-minute drive from where I live, and does not involve having to take a toll road), It's also convenient to a Costco, one of my Most Frequently Visited stores.

The move to the new store officially took place in January 2017, but Adrian Low says that it will be early spring before all the renovations are completed. The store would be open in the meanwhile, and on February 18 there was a "Grand Opening Phase 1" event, which I attended.

The mood at the reopening event was decidedly upbeat. Several manufacturers' reps said to me that they much preferred the new store and its location. One of the listening rooms in the new store is big (19' W x 26' L x 9' H), which is just what's needed to accommodate speakers like the giant Wilson Alexx. When I was there, they were playing Wilson Sabrinas,with McIntosh electronics, to great effect. The Sabrinas—the same pair that I had for review—sounded much better than when I heard them in the old store two or three months ago. Adrian Low told me that the components in the system were "basically the same," in which case the difference had to be the room or the additional break-in time (or both). My guess is that the room was a major factor. The photo shows Michael Tang, Audio Excellence's turntable setup wiz, pretending (at my request) to fiddle with the McIntosh preamp volume control. Plans call for a total of five audition rooms, four of them audio-specific and one multi-media.

Personal listening is a product category that does not require much in the way of space to demonstrate, and Audio Excellence certainly carries an impressive assortment of high-end headphones: Focal, AudioQuest, Audeze, HiFiMAN, McIntosh, and at least one brand that was new to me: the very stylish Pryma, made by Sonus Faber.

Audio Excellence has an outstanding assortment of used equipment. (The photo shows only a small part of what's available in the store.) I always enjoy looking at components that I used to covet or have owned. Anyone for Dynaco?

In his mission statement on the website, Adrian Low (left side on the photo) describes Audio Excellence as "more than a store, we're an education and imagination hub, where audiophiles, A/V experts, manufacturers, and master technicians come together to share knowledge, provide recommendations, and enjoy their love of all things sound and vision." It's an approach that obviously works.