A recent trip to the Big Apple -- dubbed thus by Jazz cats of yore who, while working the various burroughs on the coast like transient apple pickers, not surprisingly referred to NYC as the big one of the bunch -- allowed me to attend the Grand Opening of Avantgarde Music & Cinema. Armed with my newest toy, a 4.5 hours digital miniature recorder -- from, gasp, The Sharper Image, that pesky purveyor of the most redundant of gizmos -- I owned enough bytes of mic-buffered storage to conduct multiple interviews without my usual undecipherable note taking. First up today? The establishment's debonair principal, Bob Visintainer.

"Hello Bob, my name's Srajan and I'm an audiophile. Can you help me?"

"Nice to meet you, Srajan. I'm sure I can. There's the door. Grab my very last test CD on the way out (now that everything's dialed in, good riddance!). Ciao."

Ah, one of those "it's about the music" types. Undeterred, I turned my baseball cap rim backwards and knocked on his door again. This time I was allowed to stick around. What follows is my report thereof, red neck now suitably shaded by my head covering.

Upcoming shortly in this column -- to eventually form a thematic serenade of sorts -- will be informal interviews with Holger Fromme & Matthias Ruff of Avantgarde Acoustic, Eduardo de Lima of AUDIOPAX and Jim Smith of Avantgarde-USA, US distributor for both Avantgarde's hornspeakers and Eduardo's Brazilian amplifiers.

New York City's newest audio gallery is highly exclusive. Unless you wear stylish black and are in obvious need of respite from the city that never sleeps, you won't be admitted. Go back home. Bother some other salesmen who, with obvious reluctance, will have to put down their thin-worn audio magazines and -- grumpily but hopefully -- deal with your galling attempts at having your needs met. Goddamn customers! Why can't they pop up on somebody else's screen? Where hides that 'delete' command?

Just kidding. In this instance.

The only thing exclusive at Avantgarde Music & Cinema is the speaker selection: Avantgarde hornspeakers. Exclusively. From their entry-level dual-concentric SOLO to the elegant statement TRIO CLASSICO with just-released Basshorns, each model is set up in its dedicated space to showcase the entire line under optimized conditions. That's it. You desire low-sensitivity cones in boxes that require at least 50 watts to blink an eye and awaken from their antediluvian nap? Now you do need to leave, buster. It's the 21th century, remember?

To us hip and highly sensitive horny types however, the doors at AMC are open at all possible and impossible hours. Some recent visitors from Portugal discovered the dimmer hours of operation.

They called at 10:00PM expecting to leave a message for a possible appointment the following day. Much to their pleasant surprise, Visintainer not only picked up the phone but invited them over on the spot. The demo presumably spun out well past midnight. Does this parlay the strange notion that passion and enthusiasm rule chez Bob's, rather than irration at being asked for a demo, courteous treatment, superior sound and low-key comfortable digs? That would be entirely by nefarious design. Mine as your scribe reporting on personal impressions, Bob's as his self-professed mission. He views himself as your musical priest/therapist, called upon to venture beyond the usual audio ranks per se into realms where music becomes a healing art - not only for those who make it, but more importantly, for those of us who simply listen to it!

Before we clip my li'l mike to Bob's T-shirt -- for an explanation why, in today's recessive economy and "High-End audio's dying" funeral mood, this high-ranking Intel manager would dedicate a high-rent Manhattan store to just hornspeakers and single-ended tube amps -- let's visit his shop and get a feel for its particular come-hither vibe.

< 24th Street just off Broadway
27 West >
24th Street is our destination
The ground-floor entry of the building.
Its inhabitants during work hours (which increases Manhattan's 1.5 Million resident head count to 3 Million).
First have O'Neill design your new house, then see Bob to outfit it with the proper music.
One more door and you'll be home - away from home, but home nonetheless if you love music.
Suite 502.
Viewing the main room from the door.
That gold-horned phonograph actually works. For a walk down memory lane (further emphasized by photographs of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and other past stars), Bob cued up the occasional record on it. Boy have we come a long way since!
Blue DUOs against one of the short walls of the main room, casual curtains covering a hallway window in-between. Envision central SOLO and a screen there in the future when Bob brings the "and Cinema" half of his business name to bear.
Software. Without it, places such as these would be out of business. Bob's advice? Bring your own, too!
Amp row - Viva and AUDIOPAX with Audio Aero Capitole 24/196 32-bit tubed CD player.
From Brazil to Italy, automotive lacquers and tubes galore.
Matthias Ruff & Eduardo de Lima congregate around Marilyn. Explains Eduardo that he has found a way to reduce impertinence in humans by biasing their self image in pure Class A. Good for those chilly NY eves, too.
"You're spinning my head", warns Matthias whose multi-tasking left brain is beginning to emit loudly cackling bright white light.
With Matthias' head blown, the wall clears up for an uncongested view of the main room's long wall. Circularly arrayed TRIO CLASSICOs to right.
With the center dividers opened, a look at the far short-wall system of TRIO CLASSICO, with the SOLOs facing the
DUO system on the opposing short wall
With the center dividers closed, the main room is separated into two halves, giving the SOLO system a rear wall. This can turn the DUO system into a 5.1 setup using these SOLOs as rears.