In this new year, 2015, it is quite obvious that cutting-edge sound, music storage, and retrieval is here to stay and better than ever. What that really does for all of us listening to music over fine audio systems, is make it possible for the best sound ever.
Archive Audio is a home-based business, specializing in two channel audio systems. At Archive, the sounds you hear will be coming from great speakers-the latest and greatest of a long line of forbears.
I started this business 20 years ago because I wanted to get to the bottom of things. I wanted to get a deeper, insider’s view of what was going on in audio, and I wanted to get into the business myself. I had read the original publications of the high end, The Absolute Sound, later Stereophile, The Sensible Sound, The Audiophile Voice, Bound for Sound etc. It seemed that no matter who said what in print regarding how things sounded, I found myself not always agreeing with the reviewers when I searched out the gear.
As a rock ‘n roll guitarist, a guy in a band in high school, I always wanted to try to have fabulous music at my house. Over and over again, I noticed that the speakers just didn’t hold up. They didn’t sound realistic. They didn’t sound like what I heard in my parent’s living room at 17 when we practiced, nor what I heard whenever I heard real musicians playing live in a space. Speakers were always distorting or failing, or just not sounding like cymbals, voices, guitars, horns, violins, pianos, none of it. Realism was hard to come by.
This bothered me. So, I SEARCHED HIGH AND LOW FOR GREAT, AFFORDABLE, LOUDSPEAKERS!!
Here’s my list of speakers I have owned (and, in most cases offered for sale at Archive Audio) since I could afford to buy any myself. Even including when I couldn’t afford to…I listened to everything within driving range of wherever I was.
I cop to some speaker-craziness…
SPEAKERS I HAVE PERSONALLY OWNED:
|Dynaudio||Joseph Audio||Induction Dynamics|
|DM 2/6||Pearl III||S1-T|
|XEO 3||RM-55||Living Voice|
|XEO 4||RM-25||Avatar OBX II|
|Blue Heron II||Adrenaline Dipole||M16i|
|Shearwater Hotrod||Veena||Cerwin Vega|
|Kestrel Hotrod||Da Capo||Magnat|
|Kestrel||Da Capo I||500|
|CS 7||LFT-VIII||50 ME II|
|CS 3.5||Lyrix||Stanley Linear|
|Ar 10 Pi||Equinox||UD-65 Studio|
|AR 3a||KEF||Model 2|
|AR LST||Q-15||Model 1 Sig.|
|Focus II||Mordaunt Short||Arro|
|Legacy Sub||10i Pearl||Rokk|
|Focus||20i Pearl||Mask II|
|LII Studio||VR-5 LE||Dream Sub|
|2+ Signature||VR-3||Model 2|
|Mini Satellite||VR-4 Silver||801 Mk II|
|Chapman||VR-4 Gen ll||802|
|True Sub II||D-870||Audio Specialiste|
|Adamante II||Satellite I||L-200 Sub.|
|Prelude II||Satellite II||Opera|
A fair number of brands, a fair number of models.
Many other speakers stopped by and didn’t stay…the losers and the TRADE-INS
I can honestly say, trips to shows never left me lusting for some speaker I wished I could get, unless we push costs to Mercedes sedan territory. And even then, Dynaudio’s top contender is just that. But the Joseph Audio Pearl III is a secret that shouldn’t be kept.
My first really great set of speakers, the venerable AR-3a’s, sounded better than anybody else’s speakers that I knew of. In the early 70s, JBL came out with the Century L–100s. They sounded very impressive in the shop. I brought them home and compared them to my speakers. I was quite surprised. Yes, they sounded good, and they would play loudly, but there was something missing from them. The instruments, spaces, and voices though clear, did not have that spooky feeling of actually being in the room with me. Sound, musicality, realism are funny things. That’s when it hit me; realism was a big part of what made listening to music so enjoyable for me. I have been around live instruments plenty. I took the speakers back. It changed how I listened ever after.
Some people train certain sensory perceptions all their lives. A cook like my mother would say, “Give it a dash of paprika.” She was right; it tasted better. A florist can know the flowers don’t smell as fresh as the vendor claims. My buddy the target shooter saw the coral snake way before I almost stepped on it. After less than a minute of playing the guitar I wanted to buy, my friend said the fretboard wasn’t fast enough to be Ebony, it was fake. He was a studio musician.
People’s sensory perceptions become very keen through years of exposure and use, whether they realize it or not-particularly if they’re passionate about something. I’ve spent countless hours listening to systems carefully for the fun of it, without really thinking about it and critically, for the analysis of it, sifting through the products that deliver sounds that re-create real instruments, voices, venues, moods, and colors of recorded music for years on end. And it’s a pleasure to help people find their way to musical nirvana. It’s why I started Archive Audio.
Arriving at what combinations of gear work together requires some time, dedication, experience, and expertise.
Audio reviewers crow about the kinds of huge differences between DACS and cables as if it is night vs. day, dark versus light. A person reading such a review comes away expecting to be able to perceive those differences. Visiting an audio store and listening to A/B comparisons of reviewed components, if one is lucky enough to find said components side-by-side in a dealership, almost always results in feelings of inadequacy. ‘I can’t tell that much of a difference,’ is the usual thought. Followed by, ‘I must not be able to hear very well, discern differences very well…and I will buy what the reviewer said is best’. There are many frustrations in the world of audio for the music lover. I have lived many of them. I have learned from all of them.
That’s why Archive Audio is a speaker-centric business.
By far in my experience, the grossest differences in sound-the ones that really make you want to listen to your whole catalog top-to-bottom-are achieved by spending your money on better speakers. They are the most organic element in the entire chain of the music system. Speakers move the air in your listening room. They either do it with accuracy, fidelity to real instruments which also do it in some airspace, just like the one you’re sitting in in your own home, or they fall short. None are perfect… However, great sound, grand pleasure is available. And surprisingly, one can if one let’s oneself, have a lot of fun at a reasonable price point. And, that said, stratospheric expenditures for speakers are…come and hear for yourself.
But, that said, once I got into the business, and began to assemble a reference quality system top to bottom, my ardor was high for great sound-and because my business is in my own home, I have spent many hours evaluating music systems in every way.
Everybody has a budget. At Archive Audio, I’m going to tell you to spend up to 75% of your budget on your speakers. And I have a lot of fun proving that this is a good approach. If you upgrade other elements of your system…will your hear them?
With so many options in the increasingly crowded and complex world of modern audio equipment, most normal people, people who work hard at their regular jobs, at raising a family, don’t have time nor the inclination to approach the marketplace from a position of expertise and experience. Most people are at the mercy of not only the local shops and their established, well advertised brands, but also the written word as it appears in the pages of audio magazines, whose allegiances reside with the established advertisers. Are these large concerns with all the ad revenue representative of the best sonics in audio? The best value?
At Archive Audio, sound comes first. Value a close second. How can service and courtesy be on the same plane? Only by keeping standards are high and important. Maintaining first rate customer satisfaction is always the primary goal of Bob Kirk, Stereo Maestro. Oh, and let’s have fun too!
Archive Audio accepts nearly all major credit cards. Mail-order is possible whenever no local dealer for any given product is available to serve any given customer’s location.
Archive Audio is primarily a walk-in business. Shipping charges are arranged as per agreement with customer. Returns are pre-arranged with Archive Audio.
Payment can be made up of credit card payments and/or cash. Any remaining balance must be paid in a period of no greater than 30 days or by another date specified by Archive Audio. The method of payment is stated as credit card, cash or money order. Failure to comply with terms here stated will result in immediate remand of merchandise to Archive Audio under penalty of a minimum restocking fee amounting to 20% of the STATED RETAIL PRICE will be deducted from refund upon receipt of merchandise in original factory condition. Cosmetic or mechanical damage will result in further deduction by the fair judgment of Archive Audio.
Any equipment that is not normally held in inventory constitutes SPECIAL ORDER MERCHANDISE. Once equipment is ordered, if it is refused by customer and returned to Archive Audio, it is subject to the above stated restocking fee.