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In the good old days gentleman dealer used blind testing to save audiophiles' money!

BobbyTimmons

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'Many years ago, with my first couple of months wages in the bank, I went to see Thomas Heinitz in Moscow Road, Bayswater, then the top audio equipment shop in London. I wanted a tyrntable and was determined to spend as much as I could. Mt Heinitz sat me down in front of the six foot tall electrostatic speakers in the shop and set up behind me a couple of turntables with the records synced. 'I will switch from one to the other and you must tell me if you can hear any difference,' he said. I listened and after a long few minutes decided that I couldn't hear any difference between the two. 'Now turn round.' There was a Sondek LP12 and next to it a )realitively) cheapo turntable. The interesting thing was that he had put a box of matches under the felt on the platter of the cheap one and that set the record at a very odd angle, with the tone arm riding along like a small boat in a heavy sea. He advised me to buy the cheap one. (That shows how long ago it was.)'


'THOMAS HEINITZ runs a music shop in Moscow Road, London W2. But no ordinary music shop. With its sombre brown carpet and brown leather chairs, its motley collection of speakers and hi-fi equipment, its piles of CDs and reference books, and its large presiding portrait of Toscanini, No 35 looks more like a gentleman's study than a modern showroom. Heinitz is a salesman, but what he prides himself on selling most is advice.

Heinitz, purveyor of hi-fis, CDs and musical wisdom, has enjoyed the trust of classical music aficionados - from bus-conductors to royalty - for more than 35 years. He arrived in England from Berlin in 1934 and initially trained as an engineer. But it was music that he loved ('my natural habitat') and he began reviewing classical music records. His twin-track expertise - sound perfection and musical discretion - has been his meal ticket ever since.

People come to 35 Moscow Road (where Heinitz cultivates a domestic air - 'I don't want to create a musical laboratory') to find out what to buy. Heinitz keeps up to date by reading 'those wretched magazines', but in the course of his career, has seen only three technical developments: 'LP, stereo and CD, and in each case I've been out there fighting on the barricades.'

In terms of stereo equipment, Heinitz asks his clients three questions: what basic facilities are they after? How big a room are they dealing with? And what sort of total do they have in mind? 'I've never been interested in pushing something to someone who can't afford it,' he says, 'I don't work on commission and anyway, equipment is so darned good today, even on a modest level, that the difference between a vastly expensive amplifer and a cheap one is virtually indiscernible.' Not that this rule applies to speakers. Heinitz waxes lyrical on the subject of 'woofers' and 'tweeters' and that little pig in the middle, 'the squawker'. Particularly close to his heart is the 'sub-woofer', a third speaker that catches the very deepest notes. A sub-woofer combined with two more pedestrian speakers could set you back about pounds 900. 'But you should hear it,' he sighs.

Heinitz also stocks several thousand CDs (he sold off all his LPs in a bumper sale eight years ago), ranging from Gregorian chants to the most avant-garde compositions; there's a 20 per cent discount for anyone who's ever bought equipment. And he gives support here too. 'The choice of recordings is frightening and people need help. It's not a field you can judge by scientific measurement, so I am only really interested in people who genuinely listen to music.''

Outside Edge, Edward Helmore Thursday 13 May 1993

'Thomas Heinitz advised me on my first ever HiFi system in 1974. I have to say that the initial attraction was that I had heard that Mr Heinitz allowed one to pay by 6 post-dated cheques. A true gentleman who took it for granted that a handshake (even from a shabby long haired 22 year old he had never met before) was as good a guarantee as he needed. To me, who had been working for less than a year and had no credit record at all, this was a real godsend.

I remember nervously opening the door to no. 35 Moscow Road, Bayswater. The shop was small and there were one or two older customers conversing with a portly gentleman in a cardigan. They stopped talking and looked at me. "Mr Heinitz?" I ventured. He immediately came over to me and asked if he could help. An hour or so later I was writing out six cheques for £25 each and my first hifi system was to be delivered and installed in my bedsitting room that very afternoon.'

 
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DMill

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Commissions and sales incentives really hurt the brick and mortar guys In the end. “You’re gonna need a good set of Audioquest speaker cables to make those babies sing though.“ are words I remember all too often and even bought into at one point. The best hi-fi shop in my area is the owner and a couple other people. They even ask you schedule a listening session so they can set things up as close to apples to apples as possible. I’ve spoken with him and mostly it’s a passion project i think so he can play with the McIntosh stacks in his showroom.
 

DLS79

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That's a man who cared more about customer needs than his short-term financial gains. In the long term he probably benefited, because actions like that yield a lot of customer loyalty.
 

Elkerton

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sigh... In my market in south-western Ontario, Canada, I did much the same, careful to qualify a customer to suggest what they needed, selling the steak instead of the sizzle. Alas, many other salesmen were much more adept at selling the sizzle than I the steak. I don't miss being in the business.
 

Purité Audio

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sigh... In my market in south-western Ontario, Canada, I did much the same, careful to qualify a customer to suggest what they needed, selling the steak instead of the sizzle. Alas, many other salesmen were much more adept at selling the sizzle than I the steak. I don't miss being in the business.
Completely agree if only I had been a more convincing liar.
Keith
 

Roland68

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'Many years ago, with my first couple of months wages in the bank, I went to see Thomas Heinitz in Moscow Road, Bayswater, then the top audio equipment shop in London. I wanted a tyrntable and was determined to spend as much as I could. Mt Heinitz sat me down in front of the six foot tall electrostatic speakers in the shop and set up behind me a couple of turntables with the records synced. 'I will switch from one to the other and you must tell me if you can hear any difference,' he said. I listened and after a long few minutes decided that I couldn't hear any difference between the two. 'Now turn round.' There was a Sondek LP12 and next to it a )realitively) cheapo turntable. The interesting thing was that he had put a box of matches under the felt on the platter of the cheap one and that set the record at a very odd angle, with the tone arm riding along like a small boat in a heavy sea. He advised me to buy the cheap one. (That shows how long ago it was.)'


'THOMAS HEINITZ runs a music shop in Moscow Road, London W2. But no ordinary music shop. With its sombre brown carpet and brown leather chairs, its motley collection of speakers and hi-fi equipment, its piles of CDs and reference books, and its large presiding portrait of Toscanini, No 35 looks more like a gentleman's study than a modern showroom. Heinitz is a salesman, but what he prides himself on selling most is advice.

Heinitz, purveyor of hi-fis, CDs and musical wisdom, has enjoyed the trust of classical music aficionados - from bus-conductors to royalty - for more than 35 years. He arrived in England from Berlin in 1934 and initially trained as an engineer. But it was music that he loved ('my natural habitat') and he began reviewing classical music records. His twin-track expertise - sound perfection and musical discretion - has been his meal ticket ever since.

People come to 35 Moscow Road (where Heinitz cultivates a domestic air - 'I don't want to create a musical laboratory') to find out what to buy. Heinitz keeps up to date by reading 'those wretched magazines', but in the course of his career, has seen only three technical developments: 'LP, stereo and CD, and in each case I've been out there fighting on the barricades.'

In terms of stereo equipment, Heinitz asks his clients three questions: what basic facilities are they after? How big a room are they dealing with? And what sort of total do they have in mind? 'I've never been interested in pushing something to someone who can't afford it,' he says, 'I don't work on commission and anyway, equipment is so darned good today, even on a modest level, that the difference between a vastly expensive amplifer and a cheap one is virtually indiscernible.' Not that this rule applies to speakers. Heinitz waxes lyrical on the subject of 'woofers' and 'tweeters' and that little pig in the middle, 'the squawker'. Particularly close to his heart is the 'sub-woofer', a third speaker that catches the very deepest notes. A sub-woofer combined with two more pedestrian speakers could set you back about pounds 900. 'But you should hear it,' he sighs.

Heinitz also stocks several thousand CDs (he sold off all his LPs in a bumper sale eight years ago), ranging from Gregorian chants to the most avant-garde compositions; there's a 20 per cent discount for anyone who's ever bought equipment. And he gives support here too. 'The choice of recordings is frightening and people need help. It's not a field you can judge by scientific measurement, so I am only really interested in people who genuinely listen to music.''

Outside Edge, Edward Helmore Thursday 13 May 1993

'Thomas Heinitz advised me on my first ever HiFi system in 1974. I have to say that the initial attraction was that I had heard that Mr Heinitz allowed one to pay by 6 post-dated cheques. A true gentleman who took it for granted that a handshake (even from a shabby long haired 22 year old he had never met before) was as good a guarantee as he needed. To me, who had been working for less than a year and had no credit record at all, this was a real godsend.

I remember nervously opening the door to no. 35 Moscow Road, Bayswater. The shop was small and there were one or two older customers conversing with a portly gentleman in a cardigan. They stopped talking and looked at me. "Mr Heinitz?" I ventured. He immediately came over to me and asked if he could help. An hour or so later I was writing out six cheques for £25 each and my first hifi system was to be delivered and installed in my bedsitting room that very afternoon.'

I used to work with dealers like this in the 90s and early 2000s. You can only take your hat off to each of these traders, because it's like Don Quixote fighting windmills.
Despite perfect advice, most customers will buy from a dealer who is not that reputable or who sells customers overpriced goods.
And even among customers who were given good advice and bought a really good system, many of these customers ruin their systems because they later buy something dubious and overpriced.
Unfortunately I have experienced this over 100 times, very frustrating.
 

Purité Audio

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What is slightly vexing is one spends a long time with a potential customer explaining honestly the pros and cons of a component or configuration only to discover that they purchased somewhere else at a very slightly lower price or and this occurs increasingly often, someone asks me to explain to them how their new product works, even though they didn’t purchase it from me.
I always ask them why don’t you ask the vendor and they often have but have received no reply.
Retail!
Keith
 

Roland68

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What is slightly vexing is one spends a long time with a potential customer explaining honestly the pros and cons of a component or configuration only to discover that they purchased somewhere else at a very slightly lower price or and this occurs increasingly often, someone asks me to explain to them how their new product works, even though they didn’t purchase it from me.
I always ask them why don’t you ask the vendor and they often have but have received no reply.
Retail!
Keith
In such cases, only consistency helps in the long run.
You simply have to change your behavior as a seller/dealer. Detailed consultations must cost money (deducted when purchasing), just like any kind of support for devices purchased from other dealers.
10-20 years ago I advised various dealers in the areas of photography and AV systems/home cinemas on this matter.
For the good and consistent dealers, this has led to an increase in sales and an expanded customer base in the long term. There was also more time for meaningful activities, such as professional planning for customers, marketing, public relations, etc., because the customers who just take up your time and take advantage of you are no longer there.
Although it is a niche area, there is a significant group of buyers who are willing to reward good service. The biggest problem, however, is that the retailer has to completely rethink things.
 

Ze Frog

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'Many years ago, with my first couple of months wages in the bank, I went to see Thomas Heinitz in Moscow Road, Bayswater, then the top audio equipment shop in London. I wanted a tyrntable and was determined to spend as much as I could. Mt Heinitz sat me down in front of the six foot tall electrostatic speakers in the shop and set up behind me a couple of turntables with the records synced. 'I will switch from one to the other and you must tell me if you can hear any difference,' he said. I listened and after a long few minutes decided that I couldn't hear any difference between the two. 'Now turn round.' There was a Sondek LP12 and next to it a )realitively) cheapo turntable. The interesting thing was that he had put a box of matches under the felt on the platter of the cheap one and that set the record at a very odd angle, with the tone arm riding along like a small boat in a heavy sea. He advised me to buy the cheap one. (That shows how long ago it was.)'


'THOMAS HEINITZ runs a music shop in Moscow Road, London W2. But no ordinary music shop. With its sombre brown carpet and brown leather chairs, its motley collection of speakers and hi-fi equipment, its piles of CDs and reference books, and its large presiding portrait of Toscanini, No 35 looks more like a gentleman's study than a modern showroom. Heinitz is a salesman, but what he prides himself on selling most is advice.

Heinitz, purveyor of hi-fis, CDs and musical wisdom, has enjoyed the trust of classical music aficionados - from bus-conductors to royalty - for more than 35 years. He arrived in England from Berlin in 1934 and initially trained as an engineer. But it was music that he loved ('my natural habitat') and he began reviewing classical music records. His twin-track expertise - sound perfection and musical discretion - has been his meal ticket ever since.

People come to 35 Moscow Road (where Heinitz cultivates a domestic air - 'I don't want to create a musical laboratory') to find out what to buy. Heinitz keeps up to date by reading 'those wretched magazines', but in the course of his career, has seen only three technical developments: 'LP, stereo and CD, and in each case I've been out there fighting on the barricades.'

In terms of stereo equipment, Heinitz asks his clients three questions: what basic facilities are they after? How big a room are they dealing with? And what sort of total do they have in mind? 'I've never been interested in pushing something to someone who can't afford it,' he says, 'I don't work on commission and anyway, equipment is so darned good today, even on a modest level, that the difference between a vastly expensive amplifer and a cheap one is virtually indiscernible.' Not that this rule applies to speakers. Heinitz waxes lyrical on the subject of 'woofers' and 'tweeters' and that little pig in the middle, 'the squawker'. Particularly close to his heart is the 'sub-woofer', a third speaker that catches the very deepest notes. A sub-woofer combined with two more pedestrian speakers could set you back about pounds 900. 'But you should hear it,' he sighs.

Heinitz also stocks several thousand CDs (he sold off all his LPs in a bumper sale eight years ago), ranging from Gregorian chants to the most avant-garde compositions; there's a 20 per cent discount for anyone who's ever bought equipment. And he gives support here too. 'The choice of recordings is frightening and people need help. It's not a field you can judge by scientific measurement, so I am only really interested in people who genuinely listen to music.''

Outside Edge, Edward Helmore Thursday 13 May 1993

'Thomas Heinitz advised me on my first ever HiFi system in 1974. I have to say that the initial attraction was that I had heard that Mr Heinitz allowed one to pay by 6 post-dated cheques. A true gentleman who took it for granted that a handshake (even from a shabby long haired 22 year old he had never met before) was as good a guarantee as he needed. To me, who had been working for less than a year and had no credit record at all, this was a real godsend.

I remember nervously opening the door to no. 35 Moscow Road, Bayswater. The shop was small and there were one or two older customers conversing with a portly gentleman in a cardigan. They stopped talking and looked at me. "Mr Heinitz?" I ventured. He immediately came over to me and asked if he could help. An hour or so later I was writing out six cheques for £25 each and my first hifi system was to be delivered and installed in my bedsitting room that very afternoon.'

What a legend. You won't find many if any like him nowadays, they will be rubbing their hands together chuckling or wondering if they just hit you over the head with the turntable instead and take your wallet and leave you tied up in the alleyway with some mediocre interconnect cable.
 

Anton D

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What is slightly vexing is one spends a long time with a potential customer explaining honestly the pros and cons of a component or configuration only to discover that they purchased somewhere else at a very slightly lower price or and this occurs increasingly often, someone asks me to explain to them how their new product works, even though they didn’t purchase it from me.
I always ask them why don’t you ask the vendor and they often have but have received no reply.
Retail!
Keith
100%.

Bricks and mortar stores offer value, to me.

What percent of our population here bother with that?
 

Descartes

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100%.

Bricks and mortar stores offer value, to me.

What percent of our population here bother with that?
To me they are useless, just moving boxes or worse, all they do is increase cost by 50% to the consumer.
 

A Surfer

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Completely agree if only I had been a more convincing liar.
Keith
Word. I was a cracker Jack sales professional in any setting I plied my then trade in, but I just would never, ever become a shark. I explained to management that I made customers while the sharks made sales. Luckily I could also match them on sales volume, but I left sales because I was tired of having my relationship with so many nice people being anchored in money.
 

Rja4000

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There was a Sondek LP12 and next to it a )realitively) cheapo turntable
The guy who could afford the Linn at the time, and would have been able to keep it, would have earned an interesting amount of money saling it 40 years later...
But that's another discussion.
 
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