Lyric HiFi In NYC Is Gone

Discussion in 'Music, Movie and Hardware Store Guide' started by Tony Plachy, Apr 13, 2021.

  1. Tony Plachy

    Tony Plachy Senior Member Thread Starter

    Pleasantville, NY
    I just read in the latest issue of Stereophile that Lyric HiFi has closed its doors in Manhattan forever. Can anyone here confirm that it is gone? I believe it started back in the 50's and at one time had two stores in Manhattan and one in Westchester. I have been to the main store in Manhattan and the one in Westchester. The manager of that store threw me out one Thursday evening ( the night they were open late ) when I was auditioning some speakers and amps. He had decided that his salesman had spent enough time with me and told me to only come back if I was going to buy something. Obviously, I never went back and never bought anything from Lyric HiFi. I wonder how much the pandemic hurt them. Even though Lyric did not work out for me, they were an icon and it sad to see them gone.
  2. Fruff76

    Fruff76 L100 Classic - Fan Club President

    From your story, they sound like jerks. If that’s the case, who cares?
    elgoodo, scobb, WvL and 14 others like this.
  3. Lowrider75

    Lowrider75 Forum Resident

    Philadelphia, PA
    That sounds like Lyric.
  4. Razakoz

    Razakoz Forum Resident

    Sounds like they're dying for a good reason if that's how they treat potential customers
  5. Tony Plachy

    Tony Plachy Senior Member Thread Starter

    Pleasantville, NY
    Guys, They were in business for something like 65 years in NYC. That could be the longest run ever for a B&M audio store in NYC. Do have any idea how tough it is to stay in business in NYC? They didn't treat me right, but they had to treat a lot of people right to stay in business as long as they did. I can respect that. I have seen a lot of great audio stores bite the dust in the 30+ years that I have been buying audio in and around NYC. Lyric was an icon and the NYC audio seen is worse off without them.
    jonwoody, Archguy, PB Point and 11 others like this.
  6. fish

    fish Forum Resident

    NY, USA
    Tim 2 and hi_watt like this.
  7. George P

    George P Notable Member

    Each of my experiences with Lyric over the last few years were poor. Their staff was condescending and rude.
    shug4476 and Tim 2 like this.
  8. Thermionic Dude

    Thermionic Dude Forum Resident

    Sorry to see a longstanding business like this go under, but like some others I always wondered how they managed to prevail so long given their reputation for being so prickly toward the people who provide them their livelihood. (I have heard enough similar stories as the OPs over the years that I was always too intimidated to go into the store; I simply lack the wherewithal to happily suffer jerks in my "hobby life", not worth the effort just for some stereo gear.)
  9. Fruff76

    Fruff76 L100 Classic - Fan Club President

    They can kiss ass to the people with lots of $$ and stay in business.
    bootbox, Roxy_Music, PineBark and 2 others like this.
  10. Blair G.

    Blair G. Senior Member

    Delta, BC, Canada
    Based on the article it sounds like they dealt with an extremely wealthy clientele and could afford to snub the unwashed masses
    shug4476, Shawn, timind and 3 others like this.
  11. btf1980

    btf1980 Forum Resident

    They were around since the 50s, and being in business for that long in NYC is no small feat, but it's 2021. Maybe it's just time. Nothing lasts forever. They had a hell of a run.

    I've been to Lyric a few times and stepping in there felt like I was always stepping back in time. They used to have demos for new Wilson speakers and I would go check it out for fun. One thing that was evident was that their clientele was much older. Most people in attendance were 60+. The model that served them for over half a century isn't the same anymore because the customers aren't the same. Lyric HiFi is one of those places that just didn't diversify and adapt to the wants and needs of the current market. The current owner Lenny Bellezza admits this in the Stereophile article. I found his honesty and sincerity refreshing. The old market where you could rely on wealthy international customers and high heeled buyers doesn't really exist anymore. High earners are still around, but they are different and want different things from the generations before. They might not want gigantic monoblocks and Wilson speakers, but they will still buy audio products. From the outside looking in, Lyric was stuck in a hifi mentality of gear like Wilson speakers and monoblocks. All that stuff is cool, but no one under 40 is buying that. Why would they? It's not just a thing about affordability, though that certainly is a factor. They just don't want 300lb speakers and 150lb monoblocks. It is not appealing to them. There's a reason why Pro-Ject turntables and smaller form factor integrated amps continue to fly off the shelves. People actually want them in their homes and you don't need a forklift, a huge space, or a fortune to enjoy it. Dealers like NoHo Sound understand this. Sure, they also have the big, bad a$$ expensive stuff, but they specifically market to younger clientele, not just with gear, but with event spaces, current music artists giving live performances, social media presence etc. You're not gonna sell gear in 2021 just by setting up $50K speakers and then wait for customers to come to you. It doesn't work that way anymore.
    snkcube, jonwoody, BluTorch and 19 others like this.
  12. DaveyF

    DaveyF Forum Resident

    La Jolla, Calif
    I once had a similar experience at a local audio store. They insisted I leave because I had not bought something from them that day, even though I had bought other gear from them in the past. I never went back and was pleased to see the company go under after a few years. Companies that treat their customers ( or potential customers) in this manner deserve to fail and suffer the consequences of their actions, IMHO.
    Archguy, kt66brooklyn, IRG and 10 others like this.
  13. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    Mike Kay, who passed away a while ago, was a force to be reckoned with in the golden era of high end in NYC. Few if any really competed with him during his heyday and the store had a strong base among its well-heeled clientele. I was never a customer in part because I was still in the upswing of my earning power when I came to NY in 1981. I did a fair amount of business with Dave Wasserman, who originally traded in used high end equipment- I bought my ARC SP-10 mk ii from Dave, along with a pair of Crosby Quads and a bunch of other stuff over the years, including a big home theatre installation. By that time, Dave's store was a huge block wide store just north of Houston St., high end two channel was already niche (as was vinyl) and Lyric was doing home theatre as well. (A friend was a home theatre installer for Lyric and a pretty good drummer). I did a little business with Andy, and some new folks, like Tone Imports, Highwater Sound and OMA were becoming players.
    It is possible that Lyric could close the Manhattan store and still operate by appointment. Dave wound up doing the same thing after the Stereo Exchange finally shut down. The Lyric website is still up.
    Kind of like what happened to 48th St. There is no Music Row anymore as far as I know. I left NY over 4 years ago, and have not been back to Manhattan for quite some time.
  14. mrdon

    mrdon Forum Resident

    I know Lenny. He retired. I wish him the best.
    timind and hi_watt like this.
  15. trickness

    trickness Gotta painful yellow headache

    I had a similar circumstance happen with them when I was listening to a Macintosh headphone amp. Salesman was talking to me about grateful dead shows and we were talking about the amp and suddenly some guy came out and said “that’s enough chit-chat” - salesman looked at me sheepishly & walked away. Good riddance.
    all24bits, jbmcb, shug4476 and 5 others like this.
  16. Vinylistener

    Vinylistener Well-Known Member

    I never stepped a foot into any hifi stores here in NYC, read enough reviews that i am shocked how these places treat potential clients. I only deal with amazon, after i got bad tratment from smaller online dealer last year. I don't know about you guys, but i take salesmen's negativity personaly, thus, not even gonna put myself in a position to be disrespected. Amazon 4 life-))
  17. trickness

    trickness Gotta painful yellow headache

    Many of the NY sales guys were great, and i had good experiences with Innovative Audio in Brooklyn. But a few of the NY dealers were/are awful. I also personally had a really uncomfortable experience where Andy Singer absolutely reamed a poor sales rep right in front of me while I was buying a pair of $17,500 mono blocks in the 90’s - just spoke to him like he was complete garbage for his entertainment. I almost didn’t complete the transaction but I felt bad for the sales guy. Eventually I found different ways to get my equipment and decided to never pay retail for gear again. All the stuff was marked up 50% from wholesale, and instead of being grateful that they had such superb margins, I think there was a lot of contempt for the consumers because they thought everybody were just rubes. I wouldn’t buy a bunch of bananas from Andy Singer.
  18. Scrumshus_Pilot

    Scrumshus_Pilot Vir Fidelis

    Brooklyn, NY
    I used to get my haircut on the corner of B’way & Bleecker, so I would stop by Stereo Exchange a lot, thinking back, it was never really a great experience...I mean, over the yrs I bought a few pairs of B&W speakers, and an early pre/pro when home theater started to take off, some cables, etc...but I always got the feeling that the staff couldn’t be bothered, almost like they were doing me a favor. But I never took it personally, I just figured that’s the way it is, no sweat...same thing at Lyric, those guys were never friendly or welcoming, at least not to me. But I would stop by there occasionally worries, their poor attitude meant nothing to me, I just liked the gear! :D
    kt66brooklyn, trd, timind and 2 others like this.
  19. Sneaky Pete

    Sneaky Pete Senior Member

    I bought a secondary system at the Lyric Hi Fi in White Plains. The salesman was a real jerk, and I was ready to leave. But I put on a beautifully recorded acoustic music CD, and someone that appeared senior came out of the office to listen. We started to talk about music a bit and he was nice. He asked about my preferences and showed me some gear and made the sale. It was a system for my wife's studio, I bought Denon, NAD, and Celestion. It sounded sweet.

    In Lyric's Manhattan store I always felt invisible. They were insufferably rude. Through the years I ended up buying gear from Stereo Exchange, Sound by Singer, and Harvey among others.

    Lyric Manhattan always ran me off. Yet I hate to see them go because it is a sign of the state of the industry.
    kt66brooklyn, trd, ayrehead and 4 others like this.
  20. bhazen

    bhazen Fab Fourever!

    Deepest suburbia
    Is this just a New York thing? ...

    The treatment I get from hifi shops in the PNW has been exemplary ...
  21. dreamingtree1855

    dreamingtree1855 Filthy vinyl spinning hipster millennial

    New Jersey
    Having shopped HiFi in NYC and Seattle I have to say Seattle’s hifi shops have always been extremely welcome and helpful. I think the fact that any schlub in a t shirt in Seattle could be a multi millionaire helps ;)
  22. Tony Plachy

    Tony Plachy Senior Member Thread Starter

    Pleasantville, NY
    As I understand it from what I learned when I started to shop for stereo gear in NYC in the 1980's Andy Singer ( who was a lawyer ) went to Lyric and no one would talk to him. He got so PO'd by it that he decided to go into the business himself and thus Sound by Singer got started. I actually went to his first store in the 80's to listen to some Apogee speakers. The place was much smaller and much friendlier than the store he moved to in the Union Square area. I guess once you get big and fat how you treat customers changes.
    VinylSoul, trd, patient_ot and 7 others like this.
  23. Tony Plachy

    Tony Plachy Senior Member Thread Starter

    Pleasantville, NY
    Atane, This is kind of morbid, but I do wonder what will happen to the hi-end audio industry once us boomers die off. I started off in audio in 1970 with a Heathkit amp and a pair of 2 way JBL speakers. Compared to the GE console stereo that my parents had it sounded amazing. Today ( some 50 years later ) I finally have the 300 lb. speakers and the 220 lb. amp and I love it. It is my dream / fantasy system. But, as you say, I just do not see that happening with younger or even middle age people today.
  24. Scrumshus_Pilot

    Scrumshus_Pilot Vir Fidelis

    Brooklyn, NY
    old money vs. new money... the price of Bitcoin just rose as high as $63,000. Maybe tech millionaires and younger entrepreneurs are just more mobile in general, and go for lifestyle products as a result, instead of traditional components that were sold at brick and mortar shops.
    trd and timind like this.
  25. carbonti

    carbonti Forum Resident

    This is not the greatest news to hear, no matter what & how one might feel about Lyric Hi-Fi. It is one less place for the hobby to make itself visible and accessible to anyone that seeks to participate in the hobby. And it is bad for NYC to lose a place that has been around as long as this one has. Even if one might be of the opinion that they deserve it and brought it upon themselves, c'mon, have a heart, ultimately Lyric Hi-Fi was an independent business and not a line item on a corporate balance sheet. As a Manhattanite, it is distressing to see something gone that functions to subtract uniqueness and threatens bland conformity as a possible replacement. But who knows, in the post-covid world maybe all of NYC cost structures will be altered and it is not a foregone conclusion that what fills that location will be yet another bank, telecom store, pharmacy or clothing chain.

    I've been to all the audiophile emporiums in Manhattan. They all have their own vibe that I believe reflects the approach that they think their clientele expect to receive. Most of the time I get pretty low key, almost standoff-ish; which is fine with me. Most NY'ers are not shy about flagging down help if that's what they want. If it seems like they don't wanna fuss over me for whatever reason, I don't GAS. There's a lotta money in this town and if they know at a glance who is rarin' to go then they are smarter than me and no hard feelings. You would never be descended upon like at the Magnolia Room at Best Buy and thank goodness for that, but some might interpret that as a lack of service or attention.

    I've been a customer at Sound by Singer since he was on 16th Street, maybe 30 years ago. Audio high end shopping was never pleasant for a young person back then but the way retail was is very different than it is now. Retail today, in all forms, is more democratized now. Back then, in a high end audio shop you were made to feel bad about yourself if the system you had wasn't comprised of the right stuff. And back then, I most certainly did not yet have the right stuff. Looking back I laugh about it now at being in my mid-20's, having a decent job working on Wall Street, and getting looked down upon in a stereo shop. And I put up with it 'cos I didn't know better. Comical. BTW just to be clear, this is not a criticism of Andy, this was high end audio everywhere and upscale retail in many places everywhere. You could get attitude from the fashion model wannabe working sales at Bloomingdales. Gimme a break. But that was then and this is now. There is so much money sloshing around this town it's not that easy to discern who's got what, maybe just like Seattle but without the schlubby t-shirt.

    NYC will reinvent itself again as a great city but too bad to see Lyric Hi-Fi not be a part of that revival.

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