Those who know about these things will tell you the formula for a great Hi-Fi store.
Without hesitation, they’ll all point to the character, indeed the personality of the owner of Sydney’s Len Wallis Audio.
This they say is the reason they beat a path to this store for their next hi-fi or home cinema system.
Surprisingly they’ll add that it doesn’t matter a jot to them who actually attended to their needs when they arrive there.
It doesn’t have to be Len Wallis, the store’s owner.
They’re confident any one employed at Len Wallis Audio is more than professionally equipped to ensure they get what they need. Not it’s worth adding, what any given store needs to sell.
Unraveling this conundrum is as simple as ABC.
The founder of any specialist Hi-Fi store, so the reasoning goes, imparts his ethos on the employees, the physical layout of the premises and of course the quality or its dearth, of the stock held there.
On all these counts, Len Wallis Audio was bound for greatness the moment it opened for business way back in 1978.
Back then, the man himself recalls, the combinations of equipment were endless but the options were limited.
‘’The complexity of ‘’this sounds better with that component ‘’ was left to the consultants because of their vast experience. But really when you think of it, besides that the options were very few,’’ recalls a bemused Len Wallis.
‘’You could offer a turntable, amplifier and speakers. That was the basic makeup of the average hi-fi system. And Yes, a radio tuner and a cassette deck were handy options. But that was it.’’
These days, the bewildering options open to music lover beggars belief.
‘’You can have hi-fi or multi-channel surround sound with or without home automation. Display options include flat screen TVs or projectors. You can have pull down or remote controlled electrically powered screens.’’ He says.
‘’You may also want a home automation system that controls heating, cooling, lighting, security and home entertainment that you can monitor and access by phone or tablet even when you’re in the great outdoors or overseas.’’
‘’Then you have an array of wireless, streaming models. Do you want to hear music stored on your iPhone, smartphone, computer or tablet with perfect clarity in one room. Or would you prefer to have the option of streaming it to any part of the inside or outside of your home? Would you like hi-res or CD quality music streaming?’’
The question we put to Len Wallis was vital: ‘‘why did he open a hi-fi store in the first place when he could have chosen any number of ways to be successfully self-employed?’’
The answer neatly explains why the ‘’personality’’ theory of hifi stores has so much valid currency, in every part of the world.
‘’I opened Len Wallis Hi-Fi in 1978 because I loved music passionately.’’ Wallis says quietly.
‘’It certainly wasn’t because I was spellbound by the technology. Far from it. But I learnt at a very young age that the relationship of music and the quality of the equipment reproducing it was vital.’’
‘’The better the audio equipment, the greater our enjoyment of music.’’
Len Wallis and his staff demonstrate this basic axiom six days a week. Music played back using quality audio equipment does sound demonstrably better than the same music played back on a garden variety system.
While the store has a vast repertoire of makes and models and can muster up audio or home cinema systems with a price tag that would make the Sultan of Brunei blush, Wallis insists great audio accommodates all budgets.
He powers on a budget-priced, very affordable system comprising the option of a CD player, turntable, hi-res audio media server, stereo amplifier and a pair of compact speakers.
Attention to detail is impeccable. The speaker stands, equipment rack and cables have all been carefully chose by the store’s staff for their positive contribution to good sound.
Wired and fired, we’re soon listening to Tristan and Isolde. Len adores Wagner. Within a couple of minutes we’re both absorbed by the majesty of the performance and soon forget the equipment. It recedes politely into the background leaving the performers seemingly unlimited freedom to communicate Wagner’s musical ideas.
‘’Good equipment does that,’’ Wallis says.
‘’Here, I’ll show you the same qualities on a mid-priced surround sound home cinema system.’’
We move to another demonstration room and begin to watch the mini series called Birdsong. Again the combination of crystal clear images on a flat screen TV allied to the soft, emotional soundtrack combine to transport us out of the room, into a more sublime personal space.
Point is you don’t need to be an audiophile or videophile to enjoy the same experience.
‘’A good store does the equipment matching for you. We can’t assume consumers have the same amount of exposure to an endless array of equipment as we do in the store. ‘Wallis says.
‘’But once the system matching is done, the rest is easy. Anyone can hear the differences in any number of systems we’re able to demonstrate.’’
When Len Wallis or his staff talk about enriching lives and improving lifestyles, you know it isn’t glib sales speak or idle chatter.
The testament of the store’s customers and its international peers speaks of Len Wallis and his store as setting benchmarks in service, quality of stock, personnel, fair pricing across audio, video and the home automation fields.
For example, High Fidelity magazine rates Len Wallis Audio as one of the world’s five best audio stores. More recently it was adjudged as one of the top 500 privately owned companies ion NSW.
In the last decade Len Wallis Audio has won an unprecedented 15 Australian (CEDIA) Custom Electronic Installation Association, ’Installations of the year awards’.
And a few years ago, Len Wallis Audio became the first dealer outside the US to win the coveted ‘’International Dealer of the Year ‘’ year award.
In 2005, Len Wallis Audio took off Creston’s inaugural Best International Total Home Technology Integrator Award.
And to think it all began and continues with an abiding passion for music.
For more information: www.lenwallisaudio.com