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Some useful shops in London for processors and amps

Discussion in 'AV Pre-Amp/Processors & Power Amps' started by NicolasB, Dec 17, 2002.

  1. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    Some useful shops in and around London if you're looking to audition power amps and AV processors.

    1) Sevenoaks HiFi. Avoid the Holborn branch like the plague, it's a shambles, but not that many places have a Cyrus AV8 and Cyrus monobloc power amps. They also have Arcam FMJ but probably won't have any speakers that are good enough to audition it usefully.

    2) Graham's HiFi in Islington. The pinnacle of HiFi stores. Tremendously knowledgeable staff, great service. Probably best if you want to have a system recommended to you, listen to it, and buy it, rather than if you want to do lots of side by side comparisons. My salesman was very keen on M&K speakers and Arcam kit. They also sell B&W Nautilus speakers, and a wide range of other things: Linn, Naim, Meridian, etc.

    3) Cornflake. Situated on Windmill Street, just west of Tottenham Court Road. The bright yellow building was obviously constructed on Gallifrey as it's enormously much larger on the inside than on the outside. Staff are young, but usually fairly knowledgeable, and helpful. Pleasantly wide range of kit, including Bryston (only shop I've yet found that stocks Bryston kit), Arcam FMJ, Tag McLaren, Naim, Lexicon and Proceed.

    4) KJ West One. Very high-end shop. Bit posh. See if you can get hold of Steve Boxshall - slightly camp but very pleasant and cheerful and knows his stuff. Krell, McIntosh, and Meridian kit. Also Pioneer AX10 and Sonus Faber speakers. I think they also do Copland. They also like Martin Logan speakers.

    5) Musical Images, Covent Garden branch. Salesman I had (Matt) was a real hard sell merchant, but seemed to know what he was talking about. They have Linn, Arcam FMJ, Parasound and Meridian kit. They will offer more of a discount on new kit than most shops.

    6) The Listening Rooms, down in Kensington. Tediously disorganised, but a huge range of stuff including Tag McLaren, Arcam FMJ, Parasound and Meridian, and higher-end stuff too.

    7) HiFi Experience, Tottenham Court Road. Keen on Denon kit. Curiously they stock nothing in between a Denon A1SR and a high-end system where processor and amp between them cost about £16000, but their high-end home cinema demo system (from some Canadian company I've never heard of) is fascinating. Can get you a good deal on B&W Nautilus speakers. (I'm getting a pair of 803s unused for £2900). Don't tell them that you're shopping at other stores or they'll stop talking to you.

    8) Rayleigh Hifi (Rayleigh branch). M&K S150P speakers. Lexicon, Arcam, Tag McLaren.
     
  2. Nobber22

    Nobber22
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    IMO there are few HiFi stores in the UK that are further up their own butts than these guys!!:mad:
     
  3. martintyler

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    Interesting comments there Nicolas..

    1) Sevenoaks Holborn. This is where i got most of my current stuff.. they did tend to annoy me towards the end.. the most discount I ever got was half price on a pair of interconnects when i only wanted a single one :)

    2) Grahams Hifi. I went there once a while ago.. it was only a first impression (but first impressions count for a lot sometimes) i got the feeling they didnt want to speak to me.. maybe coz they didnt try.. went straight up to an older smarter looking bloke when he walked in though. So they lost out on a reasonable amount of money.

    3) Cornflake. Never went inside, didnt look very inviting.. do you need an appointment??

    4) Walked passed it before, but only when it was shut - looks a lot more Hifi than cinema - but dont know it really.

    5) Musical Images. Pop in there now and again, never really asked anything of them.. they always seem friendly though

    6) Listening rooms. Never been there

    7) Hifi Experience. Go in there quite often for a browse about - again noone ever seems to ask if i want anything - this and Grahams remind me of going to motor shows and not being allows to sit in the good cars and then you see someone better dressed sitting in one.

    8) rayleigh, never been.

    I think most places need to realise that these days you dont need to be 40 and look like you just had tea with the queen before you can afford stuff. They are clearly prepared to spend the time on demos if you go to the trouble (as Nicolas has shown.. how many demos have you had anyway? :) ). Did you put the effort in, or did you receive a different welcome than i did at these places?
     
  4. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    Nobber: don't know if I'd go quite that far, but I was really rather startled when I got the brush off. If you want to test drive a Nissan car and you happen to mention that you were checking out a Ford last week you don't expect the salesman to say "oh, well, if you've been test-driving Fords then maybe you should just let the Ford people look after you" and refuse to allow you access.

    Of course it's possible that he may have got the idea that I'm the sort of person who is more interested in listening than in actually buying. (cough)

    Suffice to say that purchase of Nautilus speakers from there was arranged via my girlfriend and without mentioning my name. :)



    Martin: It does, of course, help if they think they're going to get a significant amount of money off you. You should always make an appointment - even with the best salesmen it's useful for them to have the chance to spend a few minutes thinking "oh yes, he'd probably be interested in that."

    Put it this way: the cheapest system you're likely to be able to buy from a place like Graham's would be Arcam DV88+, Arcam AVR200 and M&K K-Series speakers. That comes to something like £3400. How likely is it that somebody who just wandered in off the street on impulse is going to say "Okay, I'll take it, here's £3400"? Just doesn't happen. On the other hand if you ring up and say "I'm thinking about buying a home cinema system, I can afford about £3500" then you're obviously a person worth paying attention to.

    How many demos? Let's see.... 2 at Graham's, 2 at HiFi Experience, 3 at Cornflake, 2 at Musical Images, 3 at KJ West One, 1 at The Listening Rooms, 2 at Sevenoaks, 1 at Rayleigh, 1 at Audio-T, 1 at Pounds, 1 at Uncle Eric's batcave. So that's 19. :eek:
     
  5. martintyler

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    You dont really just wander in to Grahams hifi, not exactly in the middle of a shopping centre is it :)

    Well, if thats how they feel then its up to them. they lost out on considerably more than your hypothetical 3500 system when they ignored me :) And yet they (and all the rest) treated you well coz you phoned.. how many of them have/will get a penny from you?
     
  6. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    I decline to answer that question on the grounds that I might incriminate myself. :cool:
     
  7. rjrodders

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    To Nicolas B

    You have demoed at quite a few of the higher end AV/HIFI dealers/shops in the business , apart from the how friendly or not and Knowlegble or not they were in selling to you, could you expand on who had the most impressive Demo rooms/facilities etc etc !!!!

    This would be quite useful to know in deciding where i would
    Like to listen to the AV8 /P7 V tAG etc etc
     
  8. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    If you want to try out a Tag AV32R against an Arcam AV8 I'd suggest The Listening Rooms as they're the only ones I've managed to track down so far who say they have an AV32R that's actually been upgraded to bp192 spec. (Still haven't managed to listen to it myself, yet).

    Graham's is very large, lots of rooms, all with suspiciously nice acoustics - the stuff definitely won't sound as good as that in your living room. :)

    KJ West One looks frightfully upmarket - you feel like you ought to be wearing a tie when you walk in. Some of their rooms are nice, but they have this one weird area with a marble floor and a very low, hard ceiling which makes you feel you're doing the audio equivalent of squinting through a letterbox.

    HiFi Experience has several small but rather plush rooms.

    I liked Cornflake because they have all of their home cinema stuff rack-mounted in one room, so it's easier to switch the cables around at speed. Some other places are less happy about zooming back and forth for comparison purposes. The acoustics in there are a little bit unforgiving.

    Musical Images was okay, except they had the projector on a table so when you sat in the middle of the sofa it blocked the picture. :rolleyes:

    The only place I would really tell you to stay away from is Sevenoaks in Holborn. But with all of them it's important to arrange in advance exactly what it is you want to listen to, and get them to repeat it. One time in KJ West One when the junior guy was on duty I ended up listening to a Meridian 568.2 processor plus a Krell Showcase power amp (total price about £9000) hooked into some Sonus Faber Home speakers (total price for the whole package 5-speaker package less than £3000). Bit of a mismatch. :)
     
  9. rjrodders

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    Excellent !!!!

    Thanks for the feedback ... that gives me a good starting point
    And will save me a lot of time and grief.

    Cheers again.
     
  10. AV Geeza

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    Heres what I have experienced from the shops mentioned:

    1. Sevenoaks Holborn- Went there many moons ago when looking for a pair of Epos Loudspeakers.
    Staff seemed to be reasonably knowledgeable and the demo room was good. They left me alone for a while, which I do prefer.

    2. Grahams- had a few demo's there, ranging from Naim to Meridian & Arcam. They had the first Naim pre/proc, and were very proud of the fact!!!
    Great service and very comfortable demo rooms!
    The main home cinema room is the dogs wotsits!!!

    3. Cornflakes- Had two demo's and have one arranged for after Xmas (Bryston vs Arcam). Young, but friendly staff, kinda laid back but they know there stuff!!

    4. KJ West One- Used them on a few occasions in my Krell days! good demo rooms and helpful staff.

    5. Musiacal Images- Used them once before, but felt that the demo room for hifi was too small.
    I do have a demo booked for this weekend (Lexicon Vs Arcam), no contest I know, but I want to see just how good all the competition is before i part with my money.
    The home cinema room seems better than the hifi room.

    6. Listening Rooms- Never been there. Spoke to someone on the phone once & they sounded like they couldnt be bothered!

    7. Hi-Fi Experience- This shop used to have some excellent staff, very helpful, but they seem to have all left!
    They have 4 or 5 good demo rooms. Or is it 6?

    8. Rayliegh Hi-Fi- Only used the Lakeside branch. They were hell bent on selling me TAG!!!

    Of all of them, Grahams and Cornflakes have provided the best service in all areas.
     
  11. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    One thing that did impress me about KJ West One (and about Mr Boxshall in particular) is that (even when we were running very late for various reasons) he made a point of sitting down and checking that all the speakers were in phase, that all the speaker volume adjustments were spot on, and that all the speaker delays were correct. A surprisingly large number of shops don't bother with this.
     
  12. jensK

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    I like this old thread and found it contained some useful information. So here is a small update.

    1) Sevenoaks HiFi. I agree with you on the Holborn branch same is true for the Watford Store. I wanted to audition the Yamaha DSP9 amp and I had Monitor Audio silver front and centre speaker, paired with some B&W mini satellite speakers and a wrongly set up B&W PV1. No match for the amp. Therefore became this the shortest audition in my life. Although, I have to say that the 7Oaks Bedford and Cambridge branch are on a different level and I like to shop around there.
    2) Graham's HiFi in Islington. Is on my to go list.
    3) Cornflake. Situated on Windmill Street closed on Saturday & Sunday and bankholidays-. Therefore not been there.
    4) KJ West One. Very high-end shop. Bit posh. After you praised this shop so much I put it on my to go list and paid them a visit. Clearly, my best audition so far and I am going to buy some SF speakers of them. These guys actually get the best performance out of the kit they have and they offered me favourable buying conditions as well. Although they don’t seem to respond to email to well.
    5) Musical Images, Covent Garden branch. Salesman I had (Matt) was a real hard sell merchant, but seemed to know what he was talking about. They have Linn, Arcam FMJ, Parasound and Meridian kit. They will offer more of a discount on new kit than most shops. I met probably the same hard sales man and the guy would try to sell anything. Not my cup of tea.
    6) The Audiofile (slightly to the north of London in Bishops Stotford). Very nice shop with B&W speakers, Naim and Meridian electronics. Very laid back auditions possible. No pressure selling here.
    7) Hifi Experience disapeared from Tottenham Court Road.
     
  13. pras1011

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    Hifi Experience disapeared from Tottenham Court Road:- Its still there but even I miss it due to their small signs. There is one door and this goes underground. The tall black guy is very posh and snobbie!!
     
  14. jensK

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    Hifi Experience disapeared from Tottenham Court Road:- Its still there but even I miss it due to their small signs. There is one door and this goes underground. The tall black guy is very posh and snobbie!!


    Sorry for the mis-information. I might try to find it then next time I am aorund there:D :D :D
     
  15. Dankeech

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    I'd like to step in and comment on Watford store, though haven't major experience from many shops so take with pinch of salt if wish.

    I've always found Watford Sevenoaks to be very positive, helpful and listen well. I normally end up dealing with Graham there and have felt he's anxious to help, laid back with no hard sell and Service has altogether been excellent.

    Just spoke to him/them yesterday as considering Arcam AVR250/300. Very positive and looking forward to helping me by demoing whenever I want, even though aware not in market til end of year and even then might take persuading.

    Dan.
     
  16. deaf cat

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    Love the thread:thumbsup:

    Anyone seen any Rega gear (exons) in any of these shops?

    I rather fancy a listen to maybe Linn, Naim and a few others get a good feel for the different sounds out there, before I plump for a power amp or two.

    You may have guessed I'm sort of at the low end of these shops, if not, still out side the front door by the sounds of some of them:)
     
  17. pras1011

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    Unilet Sound & Vision
    35, High St, New Malden, Surrey KT3 4DE

    They are very good, very knowledgable. They seem very willing to share information. There is also a guy who builds cables and a reasonable price in there!
     
  18. chachi

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    The Linn boys at 'Arrods are quite friendly and willing to show off the kit
     
  19. Knyght_byte

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    Swiss Cottage 7oaks......fantastic bunch in there

    if you are mostly considering music, moreso on the classical/jazz/acoustic line then you NEED to see Richard, the man knows music of all genres back and front but excels in the aforementioned areas......he has a very highly trained ear, listens to all the kit constantly and also goes to lots of concerts and gigs, so is well in with what a live performance sounds like too......

    if more for the AV side of things, Dori (i figure he still works there altho i havnt been in for a while, i do know he was moving at some point housewise so not sure if that meant job as well) is the man to see, knows how to set up a AV demo brilliantly, picture and audio.....

    the other guys that work there generally know there stuff for the most part, but Richard and Dori are the main stars.....(one of the other guys tho is very in to the production side of music, so he can give some useful comments on stuff with that idea more in mind).....

    and the owner/manager farooq, lovely bloke, very nice and friendly, always happy to help out with anything.......

    generally once you in the room, if you know how to operate things they are happy to leave you to it.....if not they'll pop in and out every so often in case you need something changed or whatever software wise........altho in my case being regular there i also change over hardware myself sometimes too....

    also they are quite happy to do evening demos on request.......altho you need to give them a little notice generally to make sure one of them is available...(after all they do have their own lives out of the job..lol)
     
  20. jensK

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    Good post Knyght_byte.

    Seems like 7Okaks Swiss Cottage is your 2nd home. lol
     
  21. MarkE19

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    Hifi Experience have closed - along with all the shops in that block I think.
    I bought some B&W speakers from them about 4 years ago. B&W recently sent me a letter to say that Hifi Experience had closed and to point me to another dealer for any warrenty issues etc.

    Mark.
     
  22. Peter Baker

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    If you're interested in Linn Naim, I would definitely recomend Grahans of Islington. John Oakham is very knowledgeable and friendly, as is Jude
     
  23. Knyght_byte

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    heh, almost was last winter.....i was there almost every week listening to this or buying that thing i forgot the last time i was in etc.....not to mention my marathon 8 hour demo of stereo amps that started at 6pm :eek:

    ok i could have looked in other shops at other gear, perhaps in the future i will, but i like the general sound to the brands they stock and having been a customer there for a good 3 or 4 years now they do me proud on specials now and then and i help back sometimes with advice and opinion.....

    it takes a fair bit of good quality service to impress me as i give people good service myself when in a CS related position at work, and these guys do the business far as i'm concerned :)
     
  24. dpstjp

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    Oranges & Lemons are a very good local shop, for local people in SW11. They include Naim and Linn. You could arrange a demo, park the kids in front of the telly and go shopping on the Northcote Road whilst they watch. :devil:

    dpstjp
     

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