BE­HIND THE SCENES

Australian HIFI - - CONTENTS -

Tivoli Hi-Fi has been in Hawthorn for 36 years, but re­cent changes mean that al­though the store is at the same ad­dress, it’s a now a whole new destination!

Tivoli Hi-Fi has been an in­sti­tu­tion on Mel­bourne’s hi-fi scene for years. Forty-five years, in fact, the last 36 of them at the same ad­dress at 155–157 Cam­ber­well Road in Hawthorn, the ex­te­rior of which hasn’t changed all that much in all those years. This means that if you haven’t been in­side Tivoli Hi-Fi in the last few weeks, you won’t have re­alised that ev­ery­thing in­side it has changed. It’s not the same store it once was.

‘It may be the same ad­dress, but it’s now a whole new destination,’ says Store Man­ager Ge­off Haynes. ‘We’re mov­ing with the times, be­com­ing more mod­ern and in touch with to­day’s trends, while at the same time main­tain­ing the orig­i­nal guid­ing prin­ci­ple of Tivoli’s founder, Philippe Luder, which is that of ‘ex­perts help­ing peo­ple’.’

Change is ev­i­dent from the mo­ment you walk in the door at Tivoli, be­cause you’re now con­fronted by a fully ac­tive head­phone lis­ten­ing sta­tion where you can lis­ten at your leisure—and us­ing mu­sic from what­ever source you like… your phone, a CD, the in­ter­net—to any one of 80 dif­fer­ent pairs of head­phones rang­ing in price from $200 to $12,000 and in de­sign from dy­namic, to elec­tro­static, to wire­less and ev­ery­thing in-be­tween. There’s even a full length mir­ror, so if you want to check what you might look like wear­ing the ‘phones on your daily com­mute, you can. ‘We of­fer head­phones at ev­ery price point,’ says Haynes, ‘and we also of­fer an in­cred­i­bly wide range of brands. We see it as our job to al­low our cus­tomers max­i­mum choice, as well as to in­spire them to want some­thing better.’

Deeper into the store are sev­eral smaller dis­play ar­eas packed with prod­ucts that you wouldn’t ex­pect to find at any spe­cial­ist hi-fi store, and most par­tic­u­larly one with a ‘highend’ pedi­gree. ‘This area is fur­ther proof that the ad­dress is the same but ev­ery­thing else

has changed,’ said Haynes. ‘You can see that we have the full range of Tivoli ra­dios, small sound prod­ucts from Sonos, Heos and BlueSound, plus a va­ri­ety of Blue­tooth au­dio prod­ucts… all dif­fer­ent, but the single thing they have in com­mon is that they’re not prod­ucts you’d ex­pect to find in a spe­cial­ist hi-fi store. We’re about giv­ing our cus­tomers choice, and we’re about prov­ing that we’re very price-com­pet­i­tive. Our aim is to be able to match prices with any­one, any­where in Aus­tralia.’

All the head­phones and small sound prod­ucts can be pur­chased from Tivoli Hi-Fi’s web­site, which not only guar­an­tees com­pet­i­tive pric­ing, but also same-day ser­vice. ‘Damian Rio usu­ally han­dles all our In­ter­net or­ders’, says Haynes. ‘He makes sure that you get ex­actly what you’ve or­dered, that it goes out on the day you or­dered it, and that it’s prop­erly pro­tected by black shrink-wrap. But if he’s not avail­able, one of the other team mem­bers will jump in to en­sure the cus­tomer gets ab­so­lutely the best sales ex­pe­ri­ence. When you buy from Tivoli, you’re not just buy­ing from Ge­off or James or Paul, you’re buy­ing from the whole team.’

Right at the back of the store is a pri­vate con­sult­ing room with a fully-ac­tive ‘Marantz Wall’ as well as a so­phis­ti­cated com­para­tor sys­tem that al­lows staff to demon­strate the sonic dif­fer­ences by in­ter-link­ing dif­fer­ent mu­sic sources, am­pli­fiers and speak­ers at the touch of a but­ton… lit­er­ally. Six sources, six am­pli­fiers, six pairs of speak­ers, able to be linked in more than 200 com­bi­na­tions. The con­cept is to be able to dis­cover the par­tic­u­lar sound you like, af­ter which a more fine-tuned sys­tem can be put to­gether in one of the lis­ten­ing rooms up­stairs.

In the next room, which is past the staff counter and the ca­ble dis­play, you will dis­cover what, per­haps, is the most dra­matic change at Tivoli. The store is no longer sell­ing the Loewe TV brand. This is be­cause Tivoli is now an in­de­pen­dent Mel­bourne re­tail out­let for Bang & Olufsen—an ac­cred­ited B&O ‘Destination Store’ in fact, hand-picked for the task by B&O ex­ec­u­tives. ‘Loewe makes out­stand­ing tele­vi­sions, and we’ve been con­fi­dently rec­om­mend­ing and sell­ing them for many

Tivoli Hi-Fi has changed. ‘It may be the same ad­dress, but it’s now a whole new destination’

years,’ said Haynes, ‘but when we were shown the picture qual­ity of B&O’s new­est TVs, and saw their styling, and in­ves­ti­gated the qual­ity of the man­u­fac­tur­ing, we re­alised we had to move with the times and up­date to what we now think is the best TV brand in the world.’ But Tivoli is not only sell­ing B&O tele­vi­sions, it’s sell­ing B&O’s com­plete range of prod­ucts, in­clud­ing its range of ac­tive Be­o­lab loudspeakers, wire­less BeoPlay speak­ers and its in­cred­i­ble new wall-mounted BeoSound ‘Shape’ speak­ers which can be cus­tomised to suit your home’s dé­cor.

Haynes says that one of the other at­trac­tions of B&O was the Dan­ish com­pany’s phi­los­o­phy that style is as im­por­tant as per­for­mance in the elec­tron­ics, speak­ers and screens in the mod­ern home. ‘Here at Tivoli we shud­dered when we first heard that hor­ri­ble ab­bre­vi­a­tion WAF…wife ac­cep­tance fac­tor, be­ing used in re­la­tion to home au­dio equip­ment,’ he said. ‘Our phi­los­o­phy has al­ways gone far be­yond just ‘ac­cep­tance’. We want ev­ery mem­ber of the house­hold to truly ap­pre­ci­ate and en­joy all the tech­nol­ogy in their home, not to just ‘ac­cept’ it—in­clud­ing the hi-fi and video equip­ment. They need to en­joy how it sounds, how it looks in the room, and how it com­ple­ments their decor, so ev­ery­one in the fam­ily will be proud to have the equip­ment in their home.’

Scot­tish man­u­fac­turer Linn has a spe­cial place in the hearts of all those at Tivoli, not least of all Tony McKay, who is an ac­cred­ited Linn tech­ni­cian, able to ex­tract ul­ti­mate per­for­mance from any LP12… or any other vinyl-spin­ner for that mat­ter. Tivoli is the only re­tailer in Vic­to­ria ac­cred­ited to sell the full range of Linn prod­ucts, so tucked be­hind the B&O show­room is a single small room ded­i­cated to prod­ucts from the Scot­tish com­pany. Not just some prod­ucts, ei­ther. ‘We stock ev­ery single com­po­nent made by Linn,’ says Haynes, ‘right up to the $115,000 Kli­max ac­tive sys­tem.’ Rather un­usu­ally, this room is not acous­ti­cally treated; in­stead it’s full of hard sur­faces and is ex­ceed­ingly bright-sound­ing. This is de­lib­er­ate. ‘It al­lows us to demon­strate Linn’s unique Space Op­ti­mi­sa­tion tech­nol­ogy, which uses so­phis­ti­cated acous­tic mod­el­ling that can com­pen­sate for the unique char­ac­ter­is­tics of your room to reveal the mu­sic that would oth­er­wise be hid­den,’ says Haynes. ‘It proves to our cus­tomers that with the right equip­ment, you can get great sound in any room.’

Tivoli has three rooms on the sec­ond floor that show the store’s com­mit­ment to this phi­los­o­phy, but al­though you’ll no doubt be im­pressed by the ded­i­cated home cin­ema room, and by the home theatre room, you’ll be knocked out when you see Tivoli’s fully-kit­ted-out ‘apart­ment’ room. It’s so re­al­is­tic that when you open the door, you might close it again think­ing you’ve in­truded on a pri­vate area of the store… one where some­one is ac­tu­ally liv­ing. ‘The idea is to show ex­actly what is pos­si­ble to achieve in a small room,’ says Haynes. ‘We’re ex­cited by how well it turned out with the brands we’ve used in it, but we may turn it into a B&O space in the fu­ture. That’s what hap­pens here at Tivoli…we’re evolv­ing all the time, so even if you’ve been here be­fore, we’re not the same now… it may be the same ad­dress, but it’s a now a whole new destination.’

The sec­ond floor has other se­crets. One is the ‘two-chan­nel’ room where you can set­tle into the store’s comfy sofa and lis­ten not just to what’s in the sys­tem that day, but to any com­po­nents you like. ‘We’re happy to heft any of our speak­ers into this room for our cus­tomers—or into any of our rooms, part­nered with their choice of elec­tron­ics—be­cause we want all our clients to be able to hear ex­actly what they’ll hear in their own home,’ says Haynes. Al­most on cue, his phone pinged. It was an email from a cus­tomer ask­ing for a com­plete sys­tem to be set up at 2.00 p.m. the fol­low­ing Satur­day for a pri­vate au­di­tion­ing ses­sion. ‘That’s how all our cus­tomers see us,’ he said. ‘Our goal is to help mu­sic-lovers buy from Tivoli.’

But buy­ing your equip­ment from Tivoli isn’t the end of your jour­ney be­cause Tivoli will also de­liver it to your home and, if re­quired, in­stall it to a pro­fes­sional stan­dard in­clud­ing show­ing you how to get the best from it. If you need ad­di­tional post-pur­chase as­sis­tance, the per­son to ring is Tivoli’s Paul Ong, who can suc­cinctly and pa­tiently ex­plain any-

That’s what hap­pens here at Tivoli…we’re evolv­ing all the time, so even if you’ve been here be­fore, we’re not the same now…

thing you need to know about op­er­at­ing your sys­tem. And he can do it in English or Man­darin. And if he can’t ex­plain it over the phone, he’s happy to visit your home. ‘Paul is one of our best trou­ble-shoot­ers,’ says Haynes.

Exit the two-chan­nel room and you’ll find your­self walk­ing down a cor­ri­dor lined with the finest au­dio elec­tronic com­po­nents avail­able any­where in the world, ev­ery one of which is ready to be moved to a pri­vate lis­ten­ing room for au­di­tion­ing. Haynes tells me it’s fairly com­mon for peo­ple vis­it­ing for the first time to stop at the start of the cor­ri­dor and ex­claim ‘I’ve ar­rived in au­dio heaven.’

Turn left at the end of the au­dio heaven cor­ri­dor and you’ll find Tivoli’s own ‘Aladdin’s Cave’—a small room packed full of sec­ond-hand equip­ment that has been traded-in, but this be­ing Tivoli Hi-Fi, it’s not so much ‘sec­ond hand’ as ‘col­lectable’. Fa­mous names such as Au­dio Re­search, Elec­tro­com­paniet, Dun­tech, McIntosh, Pri­mare, and Merid­ian to name but a few. (You can see the full list on Tivoli Hi-Fi’s web­site, along with new prod­ucts avail­able for sale.) What’s more, you’re not buy­ing un­known, be­cause Tivoli is one of the few hi-fi stores that has its own in-house ser­vice depart­ment, man­aged by 40-year in­dus­try vet­eran Tony McKay, who does a full Check/Ser­vice on ev­ery trade-in be­fore it’s sold. You can be as­sured of get­ting the right price on your trade-in too, be­cause val­u­a­tions are done by res­i­dent high-end and stereo ex­pert James Tranchina. ‘James is only 40 and has gained vast ex­pe­ri­ence of au­dio since he was a young boy. His knowl­edge and skills are among the best in the coun­try,’ says Haynes. ‘Give him a model num­ber and he’ll tell you when it was re­leased, what it sold for and, if it’s a turntable, what arm and car­tridge were usu­ally fit­ted to it. He’s a walk­ing en­cy­clopae­dia. James’ love of au­dio and mu­sic leaves Tivoli’s cus­tomers en­riched with new bands and tracks to look up ‘way af­ter meet­ing him’, raves Haynes.

The ‘ piece de re­sis­tance’ at Tivoli Hi-Fi is the room Tivoli staff (who num­ber 7 in all) call ‘Stu­dio One’, an ap­point­ment-only high-end au­dio room in which the lux­ury of the equip­ment is matched only by the lux­u­ri­ous­ness of the fur­nish­ings. Un­like Tivoli’s other rooms, this one is def­i­nitely ‘ap­point­ment only’, with $300,000 worth of speak­ers ready for au­di­tion­ing and one of the sources no less than Mark Doehmann’s Helix 2 turntable. No sur­prise there: Tivoli is Doehmann’s nom­i­nated Vic­to­rian re­tailer, and the great man reg­u­larly makes him­self avail­able on Satur­days to as­sist Tivoli’s cus­tomers align their cartridges and tune their own turnta­bles… all part of the Tivoli ser­vice.

‘One of our great­est tasks as a spe­cial­ist hifi re­tailer is to ex­pose more peo­ple to the joys of mu­sic and teach them how they can have a great lis­ten­ing ex­pe­ri­ence,’ says Haynes. ‘One of the prob­lems we face is that there’s a whole new trend in the world to dam­age the cred­i­bil­ity of ex­perts: the so-called ‘fake news’ phenomenon. But we are ex­perts, we are spe­cial­ists, and the spe­cial­ist hi-fi in­dus­try lives through our souls. We truly care about mu­sic, we care about hi-fi and we care about all our cus­tomers… all we need is for peo­ple to trust that spe­cial­ist hi-fi stores have their best in­ter­ests at heart to es­tab­lish a rewarding, re­spect­ful and re­cip­ro­cal re­la­tion­ship.’

Haynes says that it’s not just the joy you’ll ex­pe­ri­ence be­cause of the way your favourite mu­sic will sound when it’s played through a good, well-matched sys­tem cu­rated by a hi-fi spe­cial­ist. ‘Hi-fi equip­ment is a great in­vest­ment,’ he said. ‘You re­place your phone ev­ery 2 years or so, your wash­ing ma­chine and fridge ev­ery 10 years or so and likely even your car ev­ery 5 years, but a good hi-fi sys­tem lasts a lot longer than ten years—and not only will you use it far more of­ten than you will any other item in your home, so will other mem­bers of your fam­ily, be­cause lis­ten­ing to mu­sic is a fam­ily-ori­ented ac­tiv­ity.’

If you’d like to ex­pe­ri­ence what Tivoli HiFi has to of­fer, even if you’re not in­ter­ested in buy­ing any­thing at all, Haynes wel­comes you to drop by one day and ask for a tour of the store. Ei­ther he or one of his staff will be more than happy to be your guide. You’ll dis­cover that al­though the ad­dress is the same, ev­ery­thing else has changed.

Tivoli Store Man­ager Ge­off Haynes (left) pic­tured with store founder and owner Philippe Luder.

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