Hifi Purchasing Experience in Vancouver, BC

Alon Goldberg

Screenwriter
Joined
Jul 10, 2006
Messages
1,131
Real Name
Alon Goldberg
I'm moving to a new condo, so I decided its time to build a new entertainment system, this time focusing on fidelity and getting the very best picture and audio quality I can afford on a medium budget. I plan on building a 2.1 system as I'm in a very limited space, but one that I can build up to 5.1 over time. I've budgeted $10,000 ($8,850 + tax) Canadian for the full system, which will consist of:

- Television
- DVR
- HD Player
- Receiver
- Speakers (2) + stands
- Subwoofer
- Power Conditionner
- Wall mount bracket for TV
- Pro Installation for TV
- Cabling

I've already chosen most of the equipment, with the exception of receiver and speakers. Here's my experience auditionning speakers at various stores in Vancouver:

Hi Fi Centre (Seymour Street): Excellent selection - B&W, Monitor Audio, Sharp, Fujitsu, Denon, Rotel, plus gear I could never afford such as Classé, Naim, Sonus Faber, Runco, etc. Exceptional audition rooms, very knowledgable staff, though I've encountered both excellent and mediocre service depending on the staff member. Best Sharp dealer in the city. Talk to Greg.

A&B Sound (next to Hi Fi Centre): Limited selection of speakers (Energy, Totem), but very good selection of Yamaha and Denon receivers. I've found some good deals at various locations (particularly Marine Drive and Seymour) on both receivers and TV's. Some staff members can be very pushy, others have been excellent.

Audio Video Unlimited (Coquitlam): Paradigm, Anthem, Denon, Pioneer Elite. Prices are marked way up at MSRP, but are negotiable. Closed on Sunday, which is a pain as its quite a drive for me. Talk to Richard, he's very approachable and willing to go the distance for a sale.

Commercial Electronics (Burrard Street): Martin Logan, Pioneer Elite, NAD, Marantz, Teac. Outstanding selection of pre-owned gear. Awful customer service, would not return to this store, though I see myself owning Martin Logan speakers in the distant features. Staff were rude and disrespectful.

The Sound Room (Broadway): Paradigm, Anthem, Yamaha, Harmon Kardon, Sherwood. Friendly staff. I would likely price shop this store against AVU for Paradigm speakers.

Sound Plus (Broadway): Arcam, Boston Acoustics, KEF, Krell, Magnepan, Marantz, McIntosh, Pioneer Elite. Oh boy am I overwealmed in this store, this is serious gear right here. I need to make a return visit to get my bearings. I haven't engaged with the sales staff at this store, but I'm eager to return even though I don't have the budget to own these toys. I have dreams with Krell and McIntosh poweramps, I'm serious.

Visions: Staff are teenagers with limited product knowledge and questionable sales tactics. Primarily sell cheap JBL speakers. In any case, it's possible to negotiate some killer deals on TV sets with them. They also sell Harmon Kardon, which is a bonus.

Yana (West Vancouver): very small boutique store, they specialize in custom installs for rich British Properties residents. I'm not really their target market. In any case, they specialize in Pioneer Elite, Arcam, Integra, Teac, Yamaha, Canton, Klipsch, Martin Logan, Monitor Audio, etc. I'm likely to return to audition some Canton and Martin Logan speakers, seeing as how I won't return to Commercial Electronics.

Westminster Stereo (Richmond): As I currently live in Richmond (moving to Burnaby in March), seemed logical to visit this store in Lansdowne Mall. They specialize in B&W and Rotel. Mediocre customer service, though I'm sure they deal with mall browsers all day long. No listening room. In any case, might be worth price shopping for Rotel gear.

Are there any other speaker stores in Vancouver that anyone is aware of? I can't for the life of me find a store that sells PSB Speakers. Right now my short list is down to Monitor Audio, Canton or Paradigm Studio speakers, with a Rotel receiver, or Denon receiver + Rotel poweramp. Subwoofer will be an SVS SB-12 Plus.

I may consider purchasing a pre-pro and poweramp through Audiogon. Does anyone have experience shipping pre-owned gear from the States to Canada?
 

Paul_Dunlop

Second Unit
Joined
Nov 28, 2001
Messages
318
Nice amount of research you have done!
Must have been fun

In T.O., the main place that sells PSB is the Sony Store
 

KenWA

Agent
Joined
Dec 14, 2004
Messages
28
I know you won't go back to Commercial Electronics (sadly, I've had a similar experience with some of their sales staff), but they do carry PSB subwoofers and can probably access the rest of the speaker line as well. As far as other PSB dealers go, it's out of your way but Soundforme in Langley sells Quad, PSB and Revel (and probably some other brands as well) loudspeakers. They are a fairly small store, but the staff seemed quite friendly there. For PSB there's also Jack's Radio in Delta, but I've only ever spoken on the phone to them. NHT (if you're interested) was carried by a place called Main & Matrix on Fraser St. in Vancouver, but it's been a while since I was there. They advertise ISF-trained staff there, so it might be an interesting place to drop by.

For a very cool hi-fi experience, you should check out Soundhounds in Victoria if you're ever over there. If you visit their web site, you can see all the brands they carry (Magnepan, Audionote, Paradigm, Boston, Linn...). They also have a very interesting selection of used gear.

Let us fellow Lower Mainlanders know how the search goes, please!
 

Alon Goldberg

Screenwriter
Joined
Jul 10, 2006
Messages
1,131
Real Name
Alon Goldberg
Last night I went and auditionned Paradigm Studio 60 loudspeakers with an Anthem pre-pro and Anthem two channel poweramp, was really satisfied with these speakers (even without a subwoofer, and they sounded great for home theatre). I'm considering a Denon AVR-3806 receiver to drive these, as the Denon has bi-amp capabilities (I don't believe the Rotel RSX-1057 does?). I haven't had the opportunity to audition the 60's with this Denon receiver however, so any opinions on a Denon + Paradigm combo greatly appreciated!

Thanks for the advice on Soundforme - my car is from Acura of Langley, so I may as well drop by Soundforme the next time I have my car serviced. I haven't auditionned NHT, so I'll be sure to drop my that store on Fraser Street.
 

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