I've shopped at Audio Vision over the last 10 years or so and bought around 15K worth of kit there. I'd agree with most of the reviews below --- both the good and bad. Cris and Randy are cool to work with - decent guys who pretty are pretty straight up and know there stuff. But Antonio, the owner, is just a piece of work. He is incurably arrogant and opinionated -- sort of a parody of a bad hi fi salesman who takes his opinion on the inherently subjective subject of hi fi gear just a wee bit too seriously. I suppose I could deal with that, but I feel like I was sort of treated shabby to boot. For example, after big upgrades several times on some gear over a period of less than I year, he gave me a serious, serious haircut each time on my trade in -- contrast this with places like Music Lovers which will give you up to 100% trade in if you buy something twice the price. The difference is that Music Lovers want you to become a long term customer, whereas Antonio really just focuses on the business on a transaction by transaction basis. I also had trouble getting Antonio to demo stuff. I recall one time I wanted to demo a couple of turntables and he was constantly poking in the room trying to hustle me along even though there was only one other customer in the place. Another time I wanted to demo a couple of speakers and he made some snide remark about how he was hoping I wouldn't do ""that side by side comparison thing"". But when I returned a couple of weeks later to do just that and give them a good listen, he was impatient with me listening for more than half an hour in total even though the store was once again virtually empty. Bottom line is that I do everything I can to avoid shopping there -- I always walk away with the feeling like I've just spent time with a used car salesman. I will now only buy stuff there that I feel I can't get anywhere else.
I stopped into Audio Vision last week unannounced and was greeted warmly by Randy Johnson. I explained that I was from out of town, currently owned a number of speakers including Quad 57's, had never heard 2805's or 2905's, and saw his shop listed in the Quad dealer directory. He replied that he had 2805's in his main listening room, and that I was welcome to hear them as soon as another demo in that room was finished. I wandered around the store for 20 minutes. While there I witnessed a first time visitor audition an inexpensive integrated amp. The sales consultant was courteous and informative. Randy hooked up the Quads (I brought my own cd's), handed me the remote to the cd player, and left me alone to listen to the speakers to my heart's content. Very, very impressive sound. During the 35 minutes I spent in the listening room, the employees told my wife, who was sitting elsewhere in the shop, that they were ordering lunch and asked her if she wanted anything to eat.\r
I've been around high-end audio for a very long time, and can not recall a shop with this degree of warmth. None of the haughty behavior that many of us have come to associate with browsing in upscale stores. These guys knew I lived 3,000 miles away and would not be buying anything, but I was treated like an old friend. By the way, to the negative reviewer who made the Ferrari remark: I sell at a Ferrari dealership and I can assure you that the responses I received from Randy and the other guys at Audio Vision can not be faked. This in spite of the fact that I was dressed in jeans and an old shirt. I know all to well how it feels to be a commissioned salesperson talking to a browser from out of town who has no intention of buying anything. \r
I hope this review will repay, in some small way, the guys at Audio Vision for the way I was treated there. This is a business that deserves the patronage of those of us in the high-end community.
I started reading reviews above and had to respond. I've bought a few items from Antonio (the owner) and have always been treated with respect and treated fairly. I've been in some other salons in the bay area where their noses were so far up their _____ that I wouldn't buy from them if they were giving their stuff away. Furthermore Antonio has the largest selection of really good stuff that I've seen assembled in one place. With the cost of overhead in SF, it's not surprising that they are not able to give every customer what they want when and how they want it! Two days ago I asked Antonio to special order an item for me. He called the distributor, didn't even ask me for a deposit and the next day the distributor called me directly to let me know the item is being shipped. So...get over it!
Good selection of high end components, but I won't go back. I had a bad experience at the store.
Pros: Wide selection of high end components; decent listening rooms
Cons: Arrogant owner/staff
I've frequented ""specialty"" audio shops in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and Chicago over the past few years, and AVSF is my clear favorite. If you're the type of audio consumer who's focused on finding the the lowest price or going someplace where the customer is always right and contrary opinions or strong personalities from store staff aren't appreciated, this is not the place for you. That being said, what's the point of blowing large and potentially obscene amounts of money on stereo components if you're looking for a Best Buy sort of experience? AVSF is about selection and expertise.\r
I've purchased a good amount of equipment there over the past couple years. The staff is really friendly and knows their equipment top to bottom. I've been invited to audition various amazing setups while window shopping, had staff (and owner) spend almost two hours trying to perfect the toe-in of a pair of finicky bookshelf speakers I was interested in and been steered toward less expensive speakers than those I was initially interested in based on my listening space and associated equipment. They're also typically your best (and often only) bet in the area for equipment which is sold by only a handful of dealers across the country. \r
The negative reviews focus on two issues that seem interrelated: price and negative customer treatment. Stores like this don't survive by offering low prices; nor can they afford to devote so much attention to people who walk in the door and use up tons of time auditioning equipment ad nauseum only to shop online or used for better prices once they're made their decision. These aren't 19 year old kids with all the time in the world who have no real idea what they're selling. Respect that and they'll give it back in spades.
Interesting reviews. The trouble is, you normally only hear from the disgruntled when reading something like this. If a customer is happy, they usually go on their happy way and you don't hear from them again. \r
My first experience with this store was while looking for a ""better pair than average pair of speakers"" while not having to spend the big $$$ for the high end products out there. Another store salesman recommended AudionVision SF to me and I've been a customer ever since. My experience with the arrogance of the staffs of other high end stores made me shy away from them all together. It wasn't until a regular shop employee told me I'd be better served by this place that I decided to go. When I entered the store (5 minutes before they closed) one of the store owners greeted me and immediately put me at ease with my concern over high end audio shops. I explained my situation and I didn't get the usual snobbery because I didn't want to spend big bucks. He took the next 30 minutes to explain to me what my options were given my space, budget and quality concerns. I never would have expected this kind of treatment here, based on my other high end store experiences. I returned several times over the next month before I finally made a selection. I worked with a few different salespeople including the owner before making my first purchase and they were always very gracious and never pushy.\r
I've been patronizing this store for at least 3 years. During the times I've been in the market for equipment I have visited several times, asking many questions as all the employees in this store have worked with me and educated me in audio and video technology. They are a no nonsense shop. They take the time to answer all your questions, sale or not. \r
As for price, they have it all. Low to High. They buy back your equipment when you upgrade and have always been more than fair with me. I'm a customer for life!
Pros: beautiful store, large selection, down to earth staff, nice range of equipment for all budgets
I am really suprised that there can be any negative reviews of this store. I have been going to Audio Vision for many years. I've worked with one of the owners going back to when he ran his shop out of a furniture store. He is extremely knowledgeable and helpful and friendly, he has never steered me wrong and the one time I had a problem with something he replaced it no questions asked. He really values his customers. He upgraded components for me and bought back equipment at more than a fair price. I've worked with one other salesman who is also friendly and extremely knowledgeable. The owners of this store are serious about music and audio equipment, I can't speak to the video side of things. They provide systems to their customers that are extraordinary values because they can truly help pick the right components that match to produce the best possible sound at any price point. My system can easily compete with systems that run more than twice the price and the only reason I have such a system is because of the knowledge of the owner, these are not components one finds at big box stores or reads about on CNET, but they are often not any more expensive and they are generally much better. If you want the best equipment at any price point and components that are difficult if not impossible to find elsewhere, combined with owners who really know what they are talking about, no BS whatsoever, then go here. I've been to almost every other audio store in the area, and some are good stores, but they are not in the same league as this place. And, yes, I am a real customer!
going into audio vision for the first time was amazing. they have so many things to choose from; all quality gear well worth the price. the experience was like no other. everyone that works there seems to have a wealth of knowledge and are very helpful; especially the owners. they spent time with me and helped me pick out a system that suit my needs without over-selling. if you are a movie and music lover, i encourage you to check them out!
Pros: service, selection
Cons: expensive; but worth it!
Glad I didn't read the previous reviews before going. The main difference cited in the reviews is the difference in customer service between Chris and the owner. My wife and I were fortunate to audition speakers with Chris, who was patient, experienced and well-informed, and showed us a broad selection of speakers in our price range. Granted the store wasn't busy most of the time, but it's still extraordinary that he worked with us for over 4 hours (spread over 2 days) until we identified a speaker we fell in love with. Overall, it was the best retail experience I've had with any product, period. And we ended up buying a pair of speakers from him, and will probably buy other products. So if you're going (and they have a fine selection of audio gear to choose from), just make sure you work with Chris.
Pros: excellent service, high quality products
Cons: retail prices
A good product selection and helpful, engaged sales staff were not enough to offset the complete lack of tact, business sense and customer service shown by the owner. I had stopped by during a speaker shopping trip, hoping to buy from a neighborhood merchant. The owner asked me what other equipment I had - I mentioned a (well regarded) tube amp I would be using. He asked me if had bought it used because ""if I was they type of person to by used"" he was not going to bother demoing speakers for me. Hard to believe this guy is still in business but I suppose if you don't have the unfortunately experience of encountering the owner your point of view could be different. Many other options to choose from before patronizing this shop.
Pros: good selection, helpful sales staff
Cons: owner's attitude, owner's approach, owner's arrogance
After making an appointment to listen to loudspeakers (in the $10k range), I show up at the shop and the dealer actually *refused* to audition the speakers for me, and told me to come back in six months when I was ready to buy. He said ""it takes a good 20 minutes to set up the speakers for you to listen to, and I'm very busy"". Well guess who else has a busy schedule, and doesn't appreciate taking time off from his work day to travel across town and be treated with rudeness?
He actually compared my to ""someone who walks into a Ferrari shop and doesn't even have a credit card"". Even car dealers are not this insulting.
I personally value my money and my time too highly to deal with people like this.
Pros: lots of gear
Cons: rude, arrogant, insulting
Based on some other reviews I read, I felt the need to add my experience.
When I ordered a set of Radia in-walls, one of the speakers made a buzzing sound when it first arrived. Randy, who has been a great sales person throughout pickup the pair, made sure a replacement was obtained within a week, drove it and installed it in my house and made sure everything was in good working order.
To me this is superior service. Also, out of the 5 items I purchased (as most of my speakers came in pairs), two of the items they custom ordered for me so I can get an install deal. They cannot provide demos of what they don't carry but do what they can to meet the customer's needs.
Pros: post 30 days followup, individual attention, Good for mid-to-high
Cons: Not cheap
I read the reviews of this store, and I was curious to see how I would be treated on arrival. Thankfully, I had a great experience. The person who helped me was named Chris, and he was very friendly. I was looking for a pair of audiophile headphones, and he was very gracious. He allowed me to try all of the headphones to compare, and even offered my wife and I seats to sit down and really enjoy the listening experience. Unfortunately, it turns out that the store does not carry the particular model I'm looking for, but it was a great experience nonetheless. Of all the stores I visited in town, this was by far the best, at least for high-end gear.
One caveat: I did not meet the infamous owner, so my experience could have been totally different if I had!
Pros: knowledgable salesppl, wide variety, high quality gear
As far as mid-to-high-end stereo shops go, Audio Vision has good products, good variety, and very knowledgable salespeople. Some of the salespeople I would even call outstanding in terms of friendliness, knowledge, and general customer service. But the owner is shockingly rude. I've never felt so belittled or insulted in a store as I did when speaking with him. Whether expounding on store policy (which is totally reasonable, but he's a jerk about explaining it), or his opinion on anything, he's rude, mean, and other words I won't write here. I'd be willing to pay retail at a shop like this where they have good listening rooms and a good staff, but I'll never go there again because of the owner's attitude.
Pros: Everyone but the owne, Product Quality, Listening Rooms
Cons: The Owner, The Owner, Prices
If they show you a product they expect you to buy and can be very rude if you hesitate or decline. I spent $1500 for a defective unit. They were unable to replace it with a working unit and instead of refunding my money forced me to buy something in the store that I did not want. When they were already holding my money they didn't care at all if I would return as a customer. There are many other good options in the Bay Area to risk dealing with these people. Take my advice and find another store.
Cons: Bad ethics, Rude, Arrogant
We went shopping three times in this store to make sure what we wanted was right. So in the end the owner says, well if you had bought from me the first time we would have knocked a few hundred off the products but since you wasted my time you can pay full price. The ultimate nerve of this sent us on our way. The prices are lower in Los Angeles and San Mateo by the way on the goods they carry.
Cons: no honesty, no courtesy, questionable ethics