New York Goes Avantgarde

There may be thousands of audio manufacturers around the world, but there are only a handful of ways for them to sell their products. These include your traditional bricks-and-mortar dealer network (everything from small audio boutiques to mass-market chains), the online or mail order retailer, direct sales via the Web or catalog, or direct sales via a company store.

Although it has been put to successful use by mass-marketers such as Bose and Sony, the last approach has rarely been seen in the high-end audio business—until Red Rose opened shop in front of the Whitney Museum in New York a few years back, that is. Now we can add Avantgarde to that short list of daring business-folk.

Customer Bob Visintainer owned two pairs of Avantgarde Duo horn speakers in separate locations for years before travelling to company headquarters near Atlanta to see if, in fact, they were getting better sound in their plant than he was in his home. Sure enough they were. Visintainer also found that what the company had learned from years of setting up its product lent itself perfectly to duplication in his and other's homes. Visintainer says he was "so thrilled with the results" that he decided to "spread the gospel beyond the occasional post on audiophile chat rooms."

He eventually left a director position running the channels at Intel's Communications Group to pursue his dream of opening an exclusive Avantgarde showroom in Manhattan. Avantgarde says that a deal has been struck, and Visintainer has become the proprietor and operator for the new store, slated to open August 1 just off Fifth Avenue in the Flatiron district at 27 West 24th Street, Suite 502.

Visintainer says that phase one for the shop will be getting all of the Avantgarde Audio systems up and running. "The purpose of opening Avantgarde Music & Cinema is to create a world-class 'gallery' where all four Avantgarde speakers (Solos, Unos, Duos, and Trios) are set up and available for people to hear and enjoy. I believe that if people hear properly set up Avantgarde speakers they will re-evaluate their perceptions on home music reproduction and possibly find a new way to enhance their lives through listening to music in their homes."

Early next year Visintainer hopes to add select video products to "offer an unbelievable HT experience utilizing the Avantgarde speakers." For now, though, the store will feature Audiopax electronics, with support products from Grand Prix Audio and Cardas. Visintainer says that "in addition to Avantgarde speakers, which is what Avantgarde M & C is all about, we will be carrying the brilliant Audiopax 88 monoblock amplifiers from Eduardo de Lima of Brazil. One listen to these very special monos driving Avantgardes and the goosebumps speak for themselves." He adds that there may eventually be one more exotic low-power tube line of electronics, but the concept of the gallery is to pre-select the optimum ancillary products for Avantgarde's products and "just let people listen and enjoy the music rather than having to spend their time selecting components."

"My value proposition to my customers will be to introduce them to the Avantgarde experience, educate them on all of the equipment that we offer, assist the customer in selecting the ideal system for their homes, and insure proper system installation in their environments, which makes all of the difference in the world with regards to reaching the level of enjoyment that I am offering."

Visintainer points out that he has personally been buying audio equipment for over 20 years and in the last three years has become a "true-believer" in horn systems, specifically Avantgarde speakers. The shop's location was carefully chosen, and Visintainer adds that he "opened in the lower mid-town area and generally in NYC because of accessibility for clients, demographics for music/audio appreciation, and I personally love NYC and its electricity. NYC is where I wanted to make the statement that I believe that is gong to be made by opening our facility."

Store hours as of August 1 will be Tuesday–Saturday 11am–7pm. The phone number is (212) 229-1842 (scheduled appointments are recommended). Visintainer concludes in true-believer fashion, "We will bring the Avantgarde experience to an entirely new level. These are pretty lofty claims, but I have been to the mountain, and I promise to deliver a listening experience second to none."