In “Jeff Visits Audio Advice, Part One,” you were introduced to the Raleigh-based, high-end-audio superstore: their floor and physical space, some of their product groups—accessories and portable audio, home theaters, high-end lifestyle all-in-ones—and a few of their vast loudspeaker offerings. In many establishments, that impressive lineup would be all. Audio Advice is that and more.
This month, we meet some of the people at Audio Advice (AA) and see more of the store. I was at AA that day to pick up my personal Rotel Michi X-5 integrated amplifier-DAC, destined to anchor my Compact Reference system (which you’ll see on December 15 right here on SoundStage! Ultra). A little more on that, too.
These guys, Ricky Miranda (right) and Scott Newnam (left), were great hosts to me and my daughter, Abi, on our visit to Audio Advice. Ricky is the marketing manager for Rotel; Scott is the hands-on CEO of AA. You won’t find more enthusiastic advocates of great sound than these two.
Ricky had flown down to Raleigh from Brooklyn, New York, where he works, to deliver my Michi X-5 in person and explain its many features. He was also going to conduct a training session at AA on the Rotel brand and its current offerings. Product training is ongoing at AA, and the staff know the products they sell inside and out, which is not always the case in audio stores.
Every turn promised an exciting display to feast your eyes and ears on. I loved the displays at Audio Advice; how easy they made envisioning products in a home setting. Here, a bunch of smallish KEFs are flanked by some larger Focal Kanta loudspeakers. You can hide away good audio, but when it looks as stylish as this, why would you?
Small systems can sound big. Connect this compact integrated amplifier from McIntosh Laboratory to any pair of solidly performing standmount speakers, and you’ll end up with a healthy dollop of big-audio sound out of a relatively small and affordable audio system.
The McIntosh MHA150 headphone amplifier outputs 50Wpc into custom, gold-plated binding posts—plenty of power to propel a pair of standmount or desktop loudspeakers. With the dual-purpose MHA150, you can feed two birds with one seed.
One of the big rigs at Audio Advice did take up a lot of real estate: the large Sonus Faber speakers, powerful McIntosh monoblocks, and sprawling Rel subwoofers could easily fill the largest of spaces with great sound.
This system brandishes components from McIntosh, Naim, and AudioQuest. You’ll find an eclectic mix of brands at AA, many of which the store has been carrying for decades.
Craftsmanship was amply displayed at Audio Advice. I had never seen Sonus Faber speakers paired with Rel subwoofers, and although I did not get to hear this system, I was struck by the visual synergy of the pairing.
Turntables were everywhere at Audio Advice, and the selection was wide. If you’re in the market for a budget ’table, brace yourself: there won’t be just two or three to choose from. I count seven in this photo alone.
One unique feature (in my experience) of AA’s business model is the photo and video studio they’ve set up in the back offices of the store. These adaptable displays allow AA to take professional-quality photos for advertisements and shoot promotional videos, tutorials, and how-tos for their YouTube channel.
A lot of equipment is involved in professional video production and photography, something we know all too well here at SoundStage!
Scott Newnam explains to Ricky and Abi how the room gets overhauled regularly when shooting different brands to simulate different residential and commercial settings.
I could take four different photos of this space from different angles, and it would look like four different rooms. In a matter of an hour or so, it could look and feel completely different to highlight another brand or group of products.
“We fix it all!” Scott Newnam proclaimed proudly. AA can service any product they’ve ever sold, right down to the circuit-board level. When you buy from AA, if you live in the area and have a service issue, you can drop off the product at the store and pick it up, all good-to-go, a short time later. Sounds like the way things used to be—they still are at Audio Advice.
Ricky’s role at Rotel, in marketing and training, demands extensive product knowledge, and he speaks confidently about Rotel products. I found out that he owns a Rotel Michi X-3 (the X-5’s slightly smaller sibling) and a pair of Sonus Faber Olympica Nova I loudspeakers. Sounds like a lovely system to me!
Scott Newnam explains that the Rotel Michi X-5 weighs more than 100 pounds and needs to be carried by at least two people. His staff used a sturdy cart to help get this beast into my daughter’s car.
All in all, it was a great visit to Audio Advice. For its brand representation and range of products on display, knowledgeable staff, and dependable in-house service, I recommend Audio Advice highly. This is what a high-end store should be like.
Audio Advice is located right in the heart of Raleigh, near shopping and eating establishments. Although I normally shun chain restaurants, Abi and I do like P.F. Chang’s; this one is just a few miles from AA. It was a delicious conclusion to a delightful day. Heading back to our coastal North Carolina home, about two hours away, I knew how this report would end: if you love great sound, and you’re in Raleigh, NC, you must visit Audio Advice!
. . . Jeff Fritz