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Hi all,

 

I dropped into duratone today for a quick visit as I haven’t been there for some time and I wanted to kick some tyres.   But I noticed it has changed.  
 

they’ve moved things around and it looks like the large area out the back (which is normally where the 2nd hand stuff is) is no longer open to the public.

 

Pat wasn’t there - same as Charles and Faye.  I do acknowledge that this trio may be getting on in the years now but duratone just doesn’t seem the same anymore.  Some young whipper-snapper almost jumped on me as soon as I walked in and some other guy was there (who I may have seen before but I don’t remember him).  He was showing someone how to use a turntable.  It seemed the customer had no idea how to use it.

 

I have no idea if Charles and Faye have anything to do with the shop anymore.

 

I’m not criticising the place but just observing how things have changed.  At least I have the memories though as I’ve bought many items there over the years and have been there countless times - just haven’t been there for a few years though.

 

At least they are still open I guess.  Many specialist shops are now gone.

 

Oh well.

 

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Impact records used to have Klipsch La Scalas hanging from the walls throwing out the tunes and sounding wonderful (mainly rock / metal)   Abel records used to have Michael Brown's concrete

I do realise that both Charles and Fay are getting on in years now.   I wasn’t aware of the Mawson shop but I heard stories about the “relationship” between Kent hifi and duratone.  

Thanks for the kind words! For me it's always music (of all sorts) first, equipment second but in a vital supporting role. My website is still up, and the Music page may be of interest. some of t

My memories of Duratone are of Faye and Charles being utterly dismissive of anyone who deigned to walk in their doors under 40 years of age, the utter disorganisation and hoarding of decrepit old vinyl and equipment that made 90% of their shop space unusable, and in more recent years, staff desperately attempting to prevent Faye from interacting with customers lest she drive them away...

I miss the Music Room on the side of the Canberra Centre.

 

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I remember visiting Duratone around 2001/2 while visiting a mate who worked in Canberra (under 40 and had more hair on my head than I did on my backside in those days). 
 

As we were walking out the door I said to Charles and Faye we would be back later to have a listen to some Ambience ribbons - Charles made some snide, mumbling remark about me not coming back because I would not know good sound if it bit me on the ear - unfortunately for Charles my hearing was fine, so I challenged him toe to toe if he had a problem with me, my colleagues or even my ears (which are both symmetrical, pleasing to the eye and one in either side of my head....) - never gone back there since.

 

I now live in Canberra and “import” my gear from Melbourne / Sydney.

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I was recently planning on taking some gear over to them for repairs...  But, I was advised by a good friend to take them elsewhere, as they now outsource their work.

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Pat was always available to help sell me my first gear as a young long hair. I made a point of going back a few years ago and thanking him.

He was only going in part time then and couldn't stand for long.

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On 09/04/2021 at 3:31 PM, captain starlight said:

 

 

I have no idea if Charles and Faye have anything to do with the shop anymore.

 

 

 

That is probably a good thing. 

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The last time I went in there, about three years ago, I overheard a young sales fellow taking to a late middle-aged couple. When asked by the couple if turntables provide better sound he replied that that had been true up until the emergence of MQA. He then went on to heavily promote MQA without any explanation as to what it really is or, given the fact that it was still a new-ish thing at that stage, how widespread or accessible it was. The couple looked increasingly confused.

The shop itself, on that day, looked no different from how it was on the first day that I ever stepped foot in there in 2003; it looked like an audio version of a poorly kept charity shop, at best. Loads of gear that hadn't been sold, or even demonstrated I would guess, in at least a decade, haphazardly strewn all over the place. It was like wading through a primeval audio swamp.

How they have kept going all of these years is a mystery to me. Perhaps a large pool of loyal customers stretching back over decades for whom the unchanging nature of the place is reassuring and comfortable. Lord knows how the place will go once they all start shuffling off this mortal coil.

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19 hours ago, FR DRew said:

My memories of Duratone are of Faye and Charles being utterly dismissive of anyone who deigned to walk in their doors under 40 years of age, the utter disorganisation and hoarding of decrepit old vinyl and equipment that made 90% of their shop space unusable, and in more recent years, staff desperately attempting to prevent Faye from interacting with customers lest she drive them away...

I miss the Music Room on the side of the Canberra Centre.

 

Yes - The Music Room was a very good shop - and professionally ran too.

 

Besides their strong classical CD music collection, they had some very good hi-fi equipment.

 

I do remember when they finally closed, the guy who was the classical music buff there got a job in jb hifi in Woden (this was when job were located near kfc in that mall with the gawd awful car park).  Anyway, he didnt last with jb for long.

 

‘same as some of the guys from impact records when jb bought them out.  Some of the music guys from impact worked at jb but they don’t last there long either.

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16 minutes ago, JukKluk2 said:

 

The shop itself, on that day, looked no different from how it was on the first day that I ever stepped foot in there in 2003; it looked like an audio version of a poorly kept charity shop, at best. Loads of gear that hadn't been sold, or even demonstrated I would guess, in at least a decade, haphazardly strewn all over the place. It was like wading through a primeval audio swamp.

 


Actuallly that what I enjoyed about duratone.  It was run by fanatics who had no business sense but they knew their stuff and were selective who they dealt with.  
 

pat was my main go-to person there,.  Faye was always trying to sell me cables with my purchases and Charles was walking around listening to everything.

 

 It felt comfortable to me - it wasn’t a glitzy big box Harvey Norman crap store with pimply faced salespeople - it was people who knew their stuff and they had good stuff.
 

charles was a hoarder - a hifi and music hoarder and that was evident. I heard that he’d attend the CES and various hi-fi shows and come back with heaps of equipment that just say around.  He was like a little boy in a Lolly shop.  Faye, in her faded pink Alfa Romeo was always driving around.

 

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28 minutes ago, captain starlight said:

Yes - The Music Room was a very good shop - and professionally ran too.

 

Besides their strong classical CD music collection, they had some very good hi-fi equipment.

 

I do remember when they finally closed, the guy who was the classical music buff there got a job in jb hifi in Woden (this was when job were located near kfc in that mall with the gawd awful car park).  Anyway, he didnt last with jb for long.

 

‘same as some of the guys from impact records when jb bought them out.  Some of the music guys from impact worked at jb but they don’t last there long either.

Impact owner can now be found online as Phoenix Music or ebay as Mick6990.

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1 hour ago, captain starlight said:

 

‘same as some of the guys from impact records when jb bought them out.  Some of the music guys from impact worked at jb but they don’t last there long either.

I remember walking down the stairs into Impact Records for the very first time, again in 2003. It was sort of like coming home. For anyone who used to frequent 78 Records in Perth when they were next door to Her Majesty's Theatre it would have brought on a sense of Deja Vu.

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1 hour ago, captain starlight said:

pat was my main go-to person there

 

Pat actually came to my home to set up my LP12 when I was newly arrived in Canberra. Lovely fellow.

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11 hours ago, JukKluk2 said:

I remember walking down the stairs into Impact Records for the very first time, again in 2003. It was sort of like coming home. For anyone who used to frequent 78 Records in Perth when they were next door to Her Majesty's Theatre it would have brought on a sense of Deja Vu.

I remember when Impact was in their tiny shop near the Electric shadows - before they moved to the much bigger basement location.  This was when they publicly displayed and sold those “rare live recordings”.

 

 

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46 minutes ago, captain starlight said:

I remember when Impact was in their tiny shop near the Electric shadows - before they moved to the much bigger basement location.  This was when they publicly displayed and sold those “rare live recordings”.

 

 

Yep. The first tiny shop was like a pilgrimage to the windswept edge of civic at the time.

Don't meet many ppl who know if it. There was the larger interim shop before the downstairs in civic centre.

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I’ve been buying hi-if since 87 here in Canberra. Not one dime of mine ever went into the hands of Duratone. Hated that place with extreme passion. 
As for the other established store still open, well Sydney is a far more better option. 

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It's interesting the definite negatives.

I was shopping around town for my first gear in the mid 80s and Duratone was the only place that didn't criticize any other shop so I went back. I always talked to Pat so maybe that's the difference?

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2 hours ago, Sime said:

As for the other established store still open, well Sydney is a far more better option. 

After a few years of kicking tyres in "the other store" I finally made good and one day spent some reasonable money in there. I have to say that they were always accommodating whenever I went in, and then left, without spending anything. I'd rate them above a couple of the Sydney stores that I have been in, one of which left me feeling a bit "why did I bother?", after splashing the cash and discovering that after sales service hardly bothers their conscience.

 

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3 minutes ago, JukKluk2 said:

After a few years of kicking tyres in "the other store" I finally made good and one day spent some reasonable money in there. I have to say that they were always accommodating whenever I went in, and then left, without spending anything. I'd rate them above a couple of the Sydney stores that I have been in, one of which left me feeling a bit "why did I bother?", after splashing the cash and discovering that after sales service hardly bothers their conscience.

 

I think I have been to the "other" store and actually found them pretty good.

 

Having moved to Canberra from Geelong late last year, I kept dealing with the stores I had been dealing with in Melbourne out of "loyalty" - a concept I am currently testing with one of those stores with the attempted return of my NAD C298.

 

I am moving back to Geelong end of this year, so in the interests of interstate trade, I may as well develop a relationship with the "other" Canberra store and have them ship stuff to Victoria..........I mean, its only logical......

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Interesting the difference in views, lived in Canberra from late 70's up to 89.  Most of my hifi purchases were at Duratone.  They let me borrow gear to trial quite freely on weekends, would borrow a few amps and different speaker cables at a time from them and Kingston hifi.  I brought my Sugden pre and power amp from them, lots of DD Vinyl, all my Sheffields as an example, cables and the list goes on.  Never had a problem, they were always great to me and never pushed any items at me.

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I've dealt with both shops in Canberra, and have had good experiences at both places.

 

I do recall a fairly stand offish attitude from Duratone during my first couple of visits there, however relatively recent visits have been pleasant and I often buy their reasonably priced LPs.

 

On my last visit I witnessed the significant makeover and cleanup of the previous storeroom atmosphere of the rear area.

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They were always an odd shop, though their ad in the TV guide in the Canberra Times every week was part of my growing up as a teenage audiophile. 
 

Shops like that don’t just happen in audio- Cecil walker cycles in melbourne was just the same, a veritable trash and treasure of cycling history.

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I either shop at Len Wallis or the lifestyle store now, once I know what I’m buying, I just hop in the car and enjoy a nice drive. 
Better deals, more variety. 

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2021 - As an occasional customer I can happily report experienced Andrew was appointed store manager a few months ago and his team have been flat out modernising the shop and sorting through older inventory that has revealed many collectables. 
Andrew is a special talent and I always leave knowing more than when I walked in. Same goes for a number of part time sales folk. 

Duratone HiFi continues on in the Cull family line and are supporting the refresh. Charles and Faye are fully retired. 

The former large rear section that housed trillions of records and equipment is closed now. However in the main shop I’ve noticed 2nd hand records, CDs, DVDs are regularly restocked. 
 

They still carry many good brands and know their customer base. Some cabinets contain interesting items such as the biggest old hifi valves you’ve ever seen and some collectables. 

4F928FC6-C798-49E9-866F-449585BF7E6E.jpeg

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Impact records used to have Klipsch La Scalas hanging from the walls throwing out the tunes and sounding wonderful (mainly rock / metal)

 

Abel records used to have Michael Brown's concrete Audiospheres hanging from the walls and sounding wonderful (mainly classical music)

 

For everyone who worked at Duratone the Shahinians were our favourite speakers which we happened to sell and they sounded awesome, along with many other high end brands.  They sounded like a real orchestra in the room much of the time unlike anything else we had heard before or since (with rare exception).  The biggest Allisons were very good also along with the stacked Quads and many other one off orphan speakers that stayed in the shop decade after decade still advertised at the new price.  In one corner upstairs was a pair of immaculate DQ10 Dahlquists, in another Tasmanian built electrostatics that looked like Martin Logan CLS's, Altec 19's, Soundwaves, bossendorfer, the dalek looking polished stainless steel pod speakers with massive spikes from New Zealand, Spendors, Tannoys, Lowthers in various cabinets, Magnat with the round plasma omnisphere that made us all feel like throwing up and passing out after a couple of hours when demonstrated in one of the tiny audio rooms upstairs and on and on.   Orphaned amps littered the shop from Metaxas (MAS in the early days with some of the marble fronted pre and power amps), Micrex (which became Supratek), early Quad 33/303, 405's, Rotels (when some of them were stuffed with black gate caps), Nakamichi cassette decks etc.  Had nothing but wonderful experiences with Duratone.  Many people became part of the Duratone family and were treated as long lost friends when they would return (even if not buying anything).  They used to have a trade in program where anything you bought from them you could return within (i think 3 months) for a full refund if you were upgrading.  Kept many of us on the upgrade path for many years (case in point B and W 110i full refund to Allison 6, Allison 4, Allison 3, Allison 1, Allison one with subwoofer control unit and the list went on and on for many many years).

 

The Music Room opened many years later upstairs in a couple of small rooms before moving to a huge ground floor retail shop in the city for a few years.  Geoff had been in the Public Service but always loved music and so opened a shop.  Geoff Forgy at the Music Room who was a true gentlemen and a great Classical Music and Jazz lover.  They had the bipolar Mirage speakers, large Duntechs (Black Knight, Crown Prince, Princess) and Audio Definitions which looked like Duntechs but wrapped totally in cloth.  The earlier Osborns where there sounding fast as lightning if a bit aggro with the yellow kevlar cones and continually blowing up tweeters (these were fixed much much later and were reliable after that) Peter Stein at ME was a frequent visitor at the shop when i was there with his gold plated ME mono block amps.  Musical Fidelity's big F series amps were driving the Mirage Bipolars and the ME drove the Duntechs.

 

These stores were all quirky in their own ways but none of them seemed to be too fixated on making a profit and most were in it for the love of music (or the audio gear).

 

LPG

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3 hours ago, Lansche plasma guy said:

 

 

These stores were all quirky in their own ways but none of them seemed to be too fixated on making a profit and most were in it for the love of music (or the audio gear).

 

LPG

Yes - this last line draws up my thoughts too.  There for the love of music - and sharing it.  To me, that what is was all about.

 

Ross from abels knew his stuff too - he would often tell me some great stories of his times producing tapes for the ABC and even taking some cds around to the lodge for Paul Keating to listen too.  Apparently he was a big Mahler fan.  
 

It is a pity The Music Room closed shop.  Maybe the the rent was too much for where they were - especially in their big shop on bunda street.

 

it’s also a pity Impact is now gone.  Jb hifi is sure as heck not the same.

 

oh well.

 

the world moves on.

 

 

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On 10/04/2021 at 5:13 PM, BuzzzFuzzz said:

I was recently planning on taking some gear over to them for repairs...  But, I was advised by a good friend to take them elsewhere, as they now outsource their work.

They often send stuff to a guy in Watson, who does it at weekends. I cant recall his name right now (I live in Watson too) but he's around the corner from Pat Turner, who no longer does repairs

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Having been in Canberra , mostly, since 78, this conversation brings up lots of memories. Lots of admiration here for Pat who was a great bloke (and hopefully still is).

Another bit of Cull snobishness there was the special room. None I knew had ever been in there, but its what they used for Paul Keating, and other VIPs, if there were. That probably means they missed out on lots of sales.

I spent a bit of time in Sydney in Neutral Bay etc, and discovered a shop there run buy 2 guys- both Julians, one now sadly passed away- who had worked at Duratone, and they sold Shahinians too.

I bought my Tannoys- 15" Golds- there for $500!

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17 hours ago, Lansche plasma guy said:

Geoff Forgy at the Music Room who was a true gentlemen and a great Classical Music and Jazz lover.  They had the bipolar Mirage speakers, large Duntechs (Black Knight, Crown Prince, Princess) and Audio Definitions which looked like Duntechs but wrapped totally in cloth

Music Room Bunda St - was a nice new shop, I audition Sonique speakers coupled to some lovely sounding valve amps for about $22k being a real lot of money at the time. 

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16 minutes ago, Alpine Electrocats said:

Having been in Canberra , mostly, since 78, this conversation brings up lots of memories. Lots of admiration here for Pat who was a great bloke (and hopefully still is).

Another bit of Cull snobishness there was the special room. None I knew had ever been in there, but its what they used for Paul Keating, and other VIPs, if there were. That probably means they missed out on lots of sales.

I spent a bit of time in Sydney in Neutral Bay etc, and discovered a shop there run buy 2 guys- both Julians, one now sadly passed away- who had worked at Duratone, and they sold Shahinians too.

I bought my Tannoys- 15" Golds- there for $500!

I think the shop in Neutral Bay with Julian (over the road from the Oaks) was Audio - 1 from memory. I lived in Neutral Bay from 1988 - 1993 and would often visit Audio - 1 before popping over to the Oaks - I found visiting the Oaks before Audio - 1 more expensive for some reason......

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1 minute ago, Pigpen said:

I think the shop in Neutral Bay with Julian (over the road from the Oaks) was Audio - 1 from memory. I lived in Neutral Bay from 1988 - 1993 and would often visit Audio - 1 before popping over to the Oaks - I found visiting the Oaks before Audio - 1 more expensive for some reason......

yes, a great spot. My sister had a fabric store down the other end of NB. I think the sax player from INXS was up the Oaks end then

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Audio - 1 was a great little store as they did not mind if you popped in for advice and a listen without spending a cent. In the end I think quite a few of my mates purchased a lot of gear of varying levels over the years from them.  

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1 hour ago, Alpine Electrocats said:

They often send stuff to a guy in Watson, who does it at weekends. I cant recall his name right now (I live in Watson too) but he's around the corner from Pat Turner, who no longer does repairs

Possibly Bill Crampton (?)   

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18 hours ago, Lansche plasma guy said:

Impact records used to have Klipsch La Scalas hanging from the walls throwing out the tunes and sounding wonderful (mainly rock / metal)

 

Abel records used to have Michael Brown's concrete Audiospheres hanging from the walls and sounding wonderful (mainly classical music)

 

For everyone who worked at Duratone the Shahinians were our favourite speakers which we happened to sell and they sounded awesome, along with many other high end brands.  They sounded like a real orchestra in the room much of the time unlike anything else we had heard before or since (with rare exception).  The biggest Allisons were very good also along with the stacked Quads and many other one off orphan speakers that stayed in the shop decade after decade still advertised at the new price.  In one corner upstairs was a pair of immaculate DQ10 Dahlquists, in another Tasmanian built electrostatics that looked like Martin Logan CLS's, Altec 19's, Soundwaves, bossendorfer, the dalek looking polished stainless steel pod speakers with massive spikes from New Zealand, Spendors, Tannoys, Lowthers in various cabinets, Magnat with the round plasma omnisphere that made us all feel like throwing up and passing out after a couple of hours when demonstrated in one of the tiny audio rooms upstairs and on and on.   Orphaned amps littered the shop from Metaxas (MAS in the early days with some of the marble fronted pre and power amps), Micrex (which became Supratek), early Quad 33/303, 405's, Rotels (when some of them were stuffed with black gate caps), Nakamichi cassette decks etc.  Had nothing but wonderful experiences with Duratone.  Many people became part of the Duratone family and were treated as long lost friends when they would return (even if not buying anything).  They used to have a trade in program where anything you bought from them you could return within (i think 3 months) for a full refund if you were upgrading.  Kept many of us on the upgrade path for many years (case in point B and W 110i full refund to Allison 6, Allison 4, Allison 3, Allison 1, Allison one with subwoofer control unit and the list went on and on for many many years).

 

The Music Room opened many years later upstairs in a couple of small rooms before moving to a huge ground floor retail shop in the city for a few years.  Geoff had been in the Public Service but always loved music and so opened a shop.  Geoff Forgy at the Music Room who was a true gentlemen and a great Classical Music and Jazz lover.  They had the bipolar Mirage speakers, large Duntechs (Black Knight, Crown Prince, Princess) and Audio Definitions which looked like Duntechs but wrapped totally in cloth.  The earlier Osborns where there sounding fast as lightning if a bit aggro with the yellow kevlar cones and continually blowing up tweeters (these were fixed much much later and were reliable after that) Peter Stein at ME was a frequent visitor at the shop when i was there with his gold plated ME mono block amps.  Musical Fidelity's big F series amps were driving the Mirage Bipolars and the ME drove the Duntechs.

 

These stores were all quirky in their own ways but none of them seemed to be too fixated on making a profit and most were in it for the love of music (or the audio gear).

 

LPG

Must be time to sell my Allison Ones and DCM Time Windows, both bought from Duratone

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5 minutes ago, peterr said:

Possibly Bill Crampton (?)   

no, not Bill, not sure where he is but he is back in Canberra I think (an associate if his is trying to sell overpriced gear on local facebook)

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2 minutes ago, peterr said:

Must be time to sell my Allison Ones and DCM Time Windows, both bought from Duratone

I had a pair of little Allisons, first thing I bought there, but they were stolen from my house a year later. Very cute speakers. I am in line for pair of the concrete speakers from a friend in a little while. I remember them selling the time windows too

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3 hours ago, Alpine Electrocats said:

They often send stuff to a guy in Watson, who does it at weekends. I cant recall his name right now (I live in Watson too) but he's around the corner from Pat Turner, who no longer does repairs

Sid?

Think he retired from doing the repairs at Duratone some 20 yrs ago so he must be getting on.

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47 minutes ago, eman said:

Sid?

Think he retired from doing the repairs at Duratone some 20 yrs ago so he must be getting on.

That’s him! Now I mainly take straight forward stuff to Peter Montgomery in Hackett 

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1 hour ago, Alpine Electrocats said:

That’s him! Now I mainly take straight forward stuff to Peter Montgomery in Hackett 

It's good to have this local huddle for contacts.

 

 

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5 hours ago, Alpine Electrocats said:

I am in line for pair of the concrete speakers from a friend in a little while

We sold the Audiospheres at Fayes other shop (Kingston HiFi).  They are wonderful speakers!!!!!!!  I still love my updated pair.  Concrete spherical enclosures, super light paper cone main driver.

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7 hours ago, Alpine Electrocats said:

Another bit of Cull snobishness there was the special room. None I knew had ever been in there, but its what they used for Paul Keating, and other VIPs, if there were. That probably means they missed out on lots of sales.

The upstairs back room was locked most of the time because it had the most expensive gear, was the farthest from the front of the store, and there usually weren't enough staff to man that room.  But if someone asked or if we knew they would like something in particular, we would take people up there.  Paul Keating heard the small Shahinians (we didn't have the larger ones in stock at the time) and also some top B and W's and other speakers on his list.  He loved the small Shahinians so much he immediately contacted the importer and purchased the top of the range model Shahinian Diapason with Double Eagle Subwoofer).  Then loving those he bought the middle model (Obelisk) for another property.  A man of usually superb taste.

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