With Space to Sing

See these two smiling faces? That's my uncle Omar on the left. He's standing with John Rutan of Audio Connection in Verona, New Jersey, a short and happy drive from downtown Jersey City, along the Parkway and up good old Bloomfield Avenue, dotted with trees and liquor stores, pizzerias and movie theaters. A very fine place, indeed.

What's Omar so happy about?

This was my first time at Audio Connection. I'd been meaning to visit ever since I noticed their ad in Stereophile, five six seven maybe almost eight years ago. I was not disappointed. We walked into the quiet front room where we were greeted by Carlos. Carlos led us into a small listening room, where we sat and enjoyed the blues as presented by Hans Theessink, a voice and style I was not familiar with. The system was very fine, too. The player was a Linn Majik. Amplification was provided by the Rogue Audio Perseus preamp and Atlas power amp. A pair of Vandersteen 2Ce loudspeakers hid in the shadows.

What's Omar so happy about?

Last week I mentioned that Omar had purchased a pair of used B&W DM602s from a local junk shop. He immediately brought them home and installed them in his very modest system. Before the B&Ws, he had been listening to an inexpensive bookshelf system. I think he had purchased it from Best Buy. He was happy with it. It was small and silver and it fit nicely on his shelf. He even liked the sound.

He connected the B&Ws, placing them just where the pieces of plastic had been—on a shelf, up against a wall, with only about ten sad inches of space between them. (I could cry.) It was the best he could do, the most he was willing to do. He would later tell me that he "didn't want to understand why he needed to place them on the floor." He "didn't want to know why he needed speaker stands." He "didn't want to sacrifice the layout of his living room." (I was dying inside.) He cued up a record on his thrift shop Stanton, and dropped the needle.

That was pretty much all it took. In that very instant—I wish I had noted the time—Omar became an audiophile. I've since endured countless phone calls, e-mails, and text messages from my uncle. He's keeping me up to date with how awesome his system sounds.

John Rutan even convinced Omar to place the B&Ws


I don't know how Rutan did it. I certainly wasn't able to convince Omar to do this.

John had suggested a placement which would provide the speakers with about 71 inches between their tweeters. Omar has mustered up a solid 48 inches—a considerable improvement over those miserable ten inches he had been so attached to. Rutan also emphasized the benefits of a good pair of sand-filled stands, but advised that "even perfectly-leveled 16 inch cement blocks sprayed BBQ Flat Black would do the trick." Omar, my BBQ Flat Black-loving uncle, adored this idea. He made a quick trip to Home Depot, and picked up everything he needed. John supplied the Fun-Tak, which also tickled Omar to no end.

With the speakers on the floor, atop their cinderblock stands and with space to sing, Omar's system sounded even better. Much better.

E-mails, phone calls, text messages.

What's Omar so happy about?

Well, he's the proud new owner of a Rega P1. He purchased one that day at Audio Connection. You would be smiling, too.

Omar is hooked. And that's not the end of the story. He wanted more. Obviously, he would need a new CD player. He didn't want to spend more than $150. It had to look nice, too. Small would be good. I told him about the Oppo. He trusted me on that one.

E-mails, phone calls, text messages. Awesome awesome awesome.

And guess what? Omar says that CDs sound better than LPs in his system. He thinks he needs a new phono preamp.

Stephen Mejias's picture

I should also mention that, by the time we left Audio Connection, the place was packed. Many people were coming in to pick up gear. Carlos and John actually apologized for not being able to spend more time with us."No need to apologize," I told them. "It's great to see how busy you are. It's a great sign."

CB in MoTown's picture

Great story- love the idea of combining a thrift shop, Home Depot and Audio Connection to create a new system. Reminds me of my college days. Welcome to the club Omar. By the way, was Rutan wearing shorts?

selfdivider's picture

John Rutan is the MAN! I went to Audio Connection looking for some speakers, and John and Mr. Ed stayed WAY past closing time, letting me listen. We walked to this satellite listening station across the street & they had Vandy 5 bi-amped w/ Pass's best stuff. They knew I wasn't looking in that direction & they didn't try to upsell. Just let me listen & they listened with me. Never heard Wagner sound so good. Audio Connection = class act.Great post, Stephen!

Dr. Joe Bianco's picture

AC is pretty awesome, you can spend hours in there and get lost - oh and they'll let you too :-) John and company are the best. I wanted to get back into LP's again; I shopped around and "fell into" AC via a recommendation. Their analog person Nick listened to my wants and needs made let me listen to "my" music for as long as I wanted. He made me feel at ease never any pressure, answered all my questions and gave me a good understanding of the analog setups. I took his advice on turntable, cartridge and phono pre-amp. I love the setup I got from AC. I've made several purchases there since and look forward to future purchases. Nick was outstanding in every way during and after the sales process. I just wish John would bring in more Rock-N-Roll LP's we've talked about that :-)You couldn't find more competent, nicer, music loving bunch of folks in the audio business.