There is a joke that sometimes circulates around the American high-end audio fraternity, which goes something like this: Q “What do you call a high-end audio store that also does home theatre?” A “A home theatre store!” OK, so it’s not going to win joke of the year, but it has a kernel of truth to it, because so many audio stores discover home cinema or custom install, and almost immediately forget the core of their business. The Source AV of Torrance, California is a notable exception; it’s a high-end audio company that also builds excellent high-performance home cinemas, produces custom install systems, and designs and builds home automation systems with equal ease.
With a line up of some of the finest names in audio and audio/video, this is perhaps completely understandable, but The Source AV’s reputation reaches far and wide, far wider perhaps than just a good line in products might suggest. Much of that reputation comes from tireless co-founder of the company Jason Lord. Genuinely one of the hardest working, and one of the nicest, people in the audio business, Jason embodies the spirit of The Source AV – dedicated, professional, and thorough.
It took some time to pin Jason down, because he’s almost constantly designing, demonstrating, installing, or updating one of the many systems in California that bear his company’s name.
What brands/products do you stock?
MBL, Boulder, Dan D’Agostino, McIntosh, Gryphon, Moon by SimAudio, DataSat, Marantz, Denon, bel canto, aurender, Chord, Cavalli, Woo Audio, and Sony ES are the electronics brands we display and stock. When it comes to loudspeakers, we concentrate on Sonus faber, Focal, MBL, Totem Acoustic, Quad, and McIntosh designs. We have found these brands meet the needs of both audio and video lovers.
What inspired you to get into the industry?
My motivation was that I wanted to create a store, no… make that a company… that really was a part of the community. A place you could go where there was no sales pressure, and no motivation based entirely on financial benefit. In other words, a store that would take the time to teach the consumer best practices to meet the expected outcome.
Who has been your biggest influence?
In the audio world, my biggest influences were Saul Marantz, Frank McIntosh, Charlie Randall, Morris Kessler, Bob Carver and John Curl. These guys helped define – and in some cases continue to define – high-performance audio at all levels. Many of them also built some of the most famous names in the audio business to this day.
What music do you listen to when doing a demonstration?
Not a very good question really. I listen to whatever the client wants to use as a reference for their ears. My personal music choice is mostly jazz. I like lots of different genres, but jazz is my go-to music most of the time.
We all naturally have our own choices of music we use, whether it’s to evaluate equipment, help set-up a system, or just for listening for pleasure. But when it comes to the tastes of the client themselves, I would never impose my own music on them unless they didn’t bring any music along. Which is maybe the best reason to bring music to demonstrations!
What is the best piece of advice you can give to someone who is looking to improve/upgrade their system?
First, understand that it’s your ears that you are trying to make happy, not the ears of your buddy down the street. Next, do not be afraid to take your time in your decision making process. Third, if you are upgrading incrementally be sure you have a clear global goal. Fourth, if your salesman is saying things you don’t understand, stop them and ask for a clear explanation: if he/she answers with more confusion, walk away and go to another store. The chances are they are just as confused by the terminology as you!
Finally, it’s all too easy to be worn down by the tyranny of choice that comes from visiting too many dealers in search of the best sound or the best bargains. Anyone who has worked in audio retail for any length of time has met people who have already tried six or seven systems in as many dealers, and at that point it becomes all too easy to end up never making a decision. Find a retailer who speaks your language and stick with them. Especially if they happen to be called The Source AV!
Which do you prefer: Vinyl, CD/SACD, or downloading… and why?
I prefer vinyl, however, although the wear and tear on LP is both greatly exaggerated and limited significantly when played though good, well-maintained equipment. LP is a degradable medium, and it takes patience and care to keep it in good condition. If I didn’t have vinyl as an option I’d likely choose downloads of high resolution audio to be sure.
Is streaming taking over from downloading?
No, streaming is taking over CDs, but not downloads. Downloading, in my opinion, has not yet begun to take off and mostly because the suppliers are wasting time with recordings that no one really wants. At some point, they will wake up to this, and downloads will take off because more preferred content will be made available.
How do you see the industry in five years from now?
I see the old guard going away and the current more mobile users, the youngsters taking the demand for audio to a new and more exciting direction. Connectivity and access are key for the future hi-fi lovers.