BEST ELECTRONICS (AUDIOPHILE) (1999)
On the night we visited, Frank Sinatra's "Embraceable You" was booming out of a PS Audio CD player and a Pass Labs amp wired to B&W speakers with eel-sized MIT cabling--and we were damn near given to wonder whether ol' Blue Eyes had come back from the dead. Many other such close encounters of the recorded kind can be had at this longtime audiophile fave (est. 1951), which continues to distinguish itself through its smart and friendly salespeople and its highly discerning manner of maintaining its upscale inventory. (To wit, the formerly well-reputed NAD was bumped from the brand-name roster for failing to meet Hi-Fi Sound's impeccable performance standards.) Thankfully, the store's taste in manufacturers runs the gamut from the big-buck home theater company Lexicon to the cost-conscious California classic Proton, whose no-frills video monitors (ranging in price from $500 to $5,900) provide pictures that are way warmer than any Trinitron's, and can be further improved through Hi-Fi's unique program of offering customized calibration of your set through the local ISF company for as little as two bills. Naturally, the accessories are also state-of-the-art here and could work wonders even for a medium-budget system, which is to say that Hi-Fi Sound is a fine place to pick up that Grado cartridge you've been wanting to upgrade your turntable, or a new set of wires to maximize your connections, or perhaps a sleek A/V rack from Sanus or Studio Tech that can be yours for a few hundred clams. In short, you don't need to have won the lottery to transact here--but if you did, it might well be the first place you'd go.