Jul 262012

Splitting this into two pieces… someday I’ll say a bit about HiFi technology, but I feel compelled to write about a hifi experience I had recently.  Anyone who goes into audiophilia even a bit probably has some sad or bad stories about worthless tech, pushy salesfolks, hype, etc., etc.  Overall I chalk it up to part of the game.  And it’s been my experience that in general audiophiles are just kinda odd.  A passion for something that costs too much, is pretty much entirely socially irrelevant, and constantly enduring the jeers of the non-audiophiles and the endless commentary about how we spend so much on something that has almost no value beyond what a $100 piece of Walmart gear has.  So bet it, I know what I like, and I’m willing to pay, so a market exists for folks like me.

All that aside, however… I have got to say that Burt Goodman, of Seattle HiFi, had me looking around to see if there were cameras filming my incredulity at the astonishing service and customer care he gave me.  Just amazingly great.

I was in the market for the highly touted Berkeley Audio Design Alpha 2 and DAC and had called around to see who carried it.  The pair are pretty hot items these days given the great reviews they’ve been getting, and he was the only one who had it in stock… and, of course, being of the now generation when I finally make up my mind, it has to be… but he wouldn’t loan out the equipment (it’s pretty common to do so in hifi, so us snobs can listen to a piece of gear for a day or two before committing), saying that people often cosmetically damage the gear making it hard to sell (hard to argue with that ;)), but he volunteered to come to my house the next day, hook it up, and let me listen for as long as I wanted while he was there.

Given some quirks of my system and computers it took some time to get the things dialed in and working, but he never made me feel like I was wasting his time despite the fact that I basically was… and after listening for awhile and deciding to get the stuff he not only gave me a great price but threw in a trio of balanced AES/XLR cables and a USB cable for free (they weren’t top of the line audio cables, but sounded good, and even modest cables will easily run > 100-200 each.)  To top it off he lent me a Real Man’s Cable that cost more than I even want to type for fear of ridicule, saying I should just test it out/A-B it with the other ones he had given gratis.

In all the dealings he was absurdly knowledgeable but not snooty, worked with my rather odd space and helped set things up without any condescension, and freely admitted when he didn’t know jack about something, which is a quality I find more than endearing.  With a great personality and frat-guy  looks he was just a delight to work with.  Every once in awhile a salesperson is just a really cool person as well (I’m sure that’s what all the top sales folks are, sometimes it just seems like it’s  really hard to find them, kind of like that mythical plumber or auto repair gal that you always hope you’ll find….)

Anyway in over 20 years in the philia, my all-time best hifi dealer experience.  If you’re ever in the market for something, large or small, check out Seattle HiFi and ask for Burt.  (Although if you’re in the Bay Area Music Lovers in Berkeley is pretty rockin’ too.)  Thanks Burt!


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