Innovative Autio in NYC just hung up on me

Being they are one of two dealers for StromTank, and being I would like to buy one, I called Innovative Audio in NYC and was greeted by a woman who insisted on keeping her voice loud and when I told her she was yelling at me, hung up on me!  

I guess this is why in my 50 years in HiFi, I NEVER shopped at Innovative Audio Video Showrooms.  I can order the unit directly from Alex, and I am.  It would have been nice to go for a listen.  StromTank should STRONGLY consider these yokels selling for them.


Considering what they cost, the person answering the phone should have impeccable manners.

Audio stores complain about not having customers, yet I've run into the biggest jerks and posers, you know the type, they treat you like you're stupid, and they know everything, or they immediately assume your just shopping and treat you like dirt. I've walked into stores with money burning a hole in my pocket and have walked out without anything. Weird customer service. 

New Yawkaz are LOUD!  They sort of have to be.  It's a noisy town.  Was it just her volume level, or was she being nasty?  

I know of a place that sold high end equipment for decades and the owner would actually tell people to leave because he thought they will not buy from him. The people he told this too were in audio clubs that owned higher end equipment so word got around and the clientele who were most interested in his equipment stopped going to his place.

She did have a loud voice, but she was yelling on top of that, which made it worse.  All she had to do was put me on hold and look it up.  She was rude and nasty.  

I haven’t been to Innovative in years, but when I lived in NYC their Brooklyn store was my preferred dealer. I also used to like Stereo Exchange. Once I had a poor experience at Stereo Exchange with one of the salesman that I had already established a relationship with. It was a busy moment, and it never happened again. I chalked it up to a human having a bad day. It never happened again. Good service continued as usual.

There is this false narrative about dealers being helpful and nice. I have not necessarily seen that. They don’t let you really listen at your leisure. They control the music selection. Easier to just buy online. 


There is this false narrative about dealers being helpful and nice. I have not necessarily seen that. They don’t let you really listen at your leisure. They control the music selection ...

You've been visiting the wrong dealers.

I've had the best service at Brooks Berdan Monrovia SoCal.  Great listening session.

On audio dealers most of the time good service is rare.Here in Chicago At Quintessen Audio never have a bad experience from them? Mick treat everybody with dignity.

Clearly they were having a party in their store, I'd be frustrated too if I didn't get invited.

Maybe she got unhappy because she hates charging such high prices for audio gear.

Maybe she hates working there.

It's Manhattan.

Most people going into the stores don't buy anything it's very frustrating.



that store wouldn’t be Lyric that was in NY was it?   The one that was a few miles over the border of Connecticut.  New Rochelle or some place similar?   My friend and I got thrown out of the store after driving down from RI. My friend was planning on buying from them but  the owner looked us over and decided we didn’t have money.  My friend did have his AMEX gold card he was going to use.  We ended up at what is now Take5 Audio in Connecticut and he bought what he wanted at a slight discount.   This was back around 1978 or so. 

Sounds like Audio Vision of San Francisco. Talking down on you to satisfy their Egos.

I imagine it must be difficult for dealers today, as many audio shoppers will have no problem taking up time at a store, saying thank you, and purchase the item on line elsewhere....used in many cases. I unfortunately know people like this. This is all part of doing business........

In 1998 I went to this auto dealer, I saw this beautiful van worth $48,000. Though Iam asking for salesman , no one want to entertain me..Iam on my early 40 that time. Believe it or not two salesman on their mid 50 are just standing looking at me?until I left the dealership.six months later.I saw this van still not sold. I stop by again? The same 2 salesman saw me and hide.This new young salesman approach me and asked me if I like van ? I said yes.The van is now price 36k.i said give me a good reasonable price. And he run to his manager very excited.Then the 2 salesman are just watching me?THE young salesman on his late 20  came back. The price he said $ 32, 600? I said I will buy It.i wrote him a check for the whole price total. Then the two salesman claim to the young salesman they indeed know me.I said no I don’t know them, because they ignore me two times I went to this dealer.True story.

Back in the day, you had a handful of dealers in the NYC area. Lyric, Innovative ( Brooklyn locations ) Sound by Singer, Stereo Exchange, Park Avenue Audio, Grand Central Radio, and Harvey....that I can remember. A few excellent dealers in Long Island and over in New Jersey. I spent some time early on at a few ( selling, consulting, at peoples homes and businesses ), and had a very loyal following. I did not run into many tire kickers, but the competition between stores, and brands, was fierce back then, just as it is now. Not sure of the point I am trying to make, but audio shoppers today, imo, are less loyal, and the internet has a huge play in this. Anyway, my best. Always, MrD. 

Michale Kay and Lenny from Lyric were ALWAYS nice to me, even when I was a poor graduate student in the late 70s.  Michael even let me back to hear the HQD set up he had there, and we both knew I was no position to purchase anything like that.  It led to loyalty from me and I was a fairly regular customer there.  

I went there for a visit last spring.  I found the owner to be very friendly. I was supposed to meet a friend but I got days mixed up and ended up there w/o an invite during covid. I told them what happened and I am not there to buy. He let me browse and listen to a few systems. Chatted for a bit.  Tried to sell me a $15k DAC, but hey that’s what he is in business for.  No idea why someone would hang up on you. I would have called back and asked for manager. 

Perhaps she was having a bad day, she’s only human…..did you try calling back later and ask for the owner?  Everyone deserves a second chance before you put the whole business on blast.  I agree that someone misbehaved, just not sure who.

It’s NY other than being assaulted on the way to the store what did you expect!!

Lyrics other store in White Plains NY would always let me take gear home to try out. Harvey sound would do the same! Those days are long gone!

@stereo5 : I had a bad experience back in 1980 when I went to Lyric. Mike Kaye refused to honor a trade-in for my Fidelity Research FR-1mk3F mc cartridge. He was an FR dealer and wouldn’t take the trade + cash for a new FR cartridge because I didn’t buy mine from him. I had to get on the subway and go to Innovative Audio in Brooklyn Heights to get a new FR cartridge.



Thank you for sharing your experience. I would certainly inform Strom Tank about this situation. Agreed, purchase from another Dealer/Retailer.


Happy Listening!

The HiFi Audio market is an Uber competitive space today with a shrinking customer base.  The internet has opened up the possibility of the brick and mortar stores not being needed due to online sales, brands being able to go direct to market and a sea of used equipment being at anyone’s finger tips via a phone, tablet, PC. 

There is a lot of pressure on the brick and mortar stores that are left, gone are the days of an expansive customer base that drive higher volumes of sales spread across the price curve, most brick and mortar stores today have to bank on far fewer sales and customers but the customers they do have buying high end pieces, dropping some serious coin.  I’ve talked to several owners at brick and mortar stores who have been great, let me demo items at home, exchanged items if I didn’t like it, carved out time at the store to spend with me.  My go to store started with selling me a relatively inexpensive Parasound 2 channel amp.  What the store owners would do is let me know if they had clients coming in that needed their time or equipment I was also interested in, laid out what those patrons were likely to spend, buy.  That helped me understand what they had going on. 

What is sad is there are fewer and fewer HiFi stores.  There is still a real value a brick and mortar store has over the online experience.  Also a real value to the experience a seasoned HiFi salesperson has and the perspective they can offer.  It stinks that the OP had the experience he had, hopefully the Audiophile community does it’s best to keep some of these HiFi brick and mortar stores around.  

I periodically visit Innovative Audio Video. I wish I lived closer - because it’s an event I always look forward to (I grew up in Westchester, NY and now live in the central NJ area). Are you sure you dialed the correct number?

My experience has been Innovative Audio Video is a world class facility with a group of exceptional people. And I’m not exaggerating. This is reflected by the principal individual, Elliot Fishkin who himself is an exceptional man (and for the record - I have no association with Innovative Audio Video).

I’ve been fortunate to have been invited to multiple product introductions - and these occasions really are world class events. I enjoy bringing fellow audiophiles for the treat. When I brought my friend Gary to attend The Wilson Chronosonic XVX introduction, upon introducing him to Peter McGrath - Gary was like a kid in a candy store and Peter was such a gentleman (he always is) and spent so much time with Gary. My friend Gary still talks about that evening (a heartfelt thank you Peter).

At that event, I left the XVX demonstration room and went into the Alexia room (by myself) to listen to those speakers because these are what I intend to upgrade to. After a while of listening, Elliot came in and socialized with me, sharing live music performance experiences and relating them to different equipment and tastes. I really enjoyed that time with Elliot because he builds relationships.

I met Chris Foremen on my first visit to Innovative when I was considering the purchase of Sasha I speakers. Chris also is an exceptional individual and builds relationships.

When I had an issue with one of my Meridian 800 components, both Chris and Elliot personally helped me get things resolved. Their help was critical at the time, for which I will always be grateful. It was then I learned who these people really are. At one point, Elliot spent quite a bit of time with me on the phone and I specifically said to him that I wanted to be considerate of his time. He responded by saying he enjoys helping people - independent of what they purchase and enjoys proliferating the enjoyment of music and our audiophile industry with everyone. He shared examples of helping clients with more moderate budgets and systems because he understood my concern. This is when I started to understand and develop a sincere respect for Elliot and Chris. They are ethical people who operate their business with the same philosophy I do (that is in a win / win manner) and they enjoy sharing their passion of music.

The last event I attended was the Wilson Alexx V introduction, what an experience. Yet - I had to break away from that room and visit the Alexia room. It’s easy to become accustomed to the Alexx and they’re unfortunately not in my budget (I’ll be happily stretching for the Alexia speakers).

To say every visit to Innovative Audio Video has been a very positive and memorable event is like saying attending the Super Bowl with sideline passes was going to a football game. They really do host world class enjoyable evenings. To me - it’s not the remarkable equipment that is well set up and demonstrated with great music (which I’m certain is hours of work), it’s not the hosting with complimenting wine and hors d’beuvres, it’s not all the coordination of representatives / schedules / staff / clients to make sure everything occurs without incident - it’s the desire of these individuals to share great music and proliferate our ability to enjoy these experiences in our own home.

I would be remiss if I didn’t disclose that I have yet to make a single purchase with Innovative Audio Video. Purchasing Alexia speakers will unfortunately be delayed because my wife served me with a notice of divorce this past June, which I shared with Elliot. His encouragement and support of handling things well - in following our faith, maintaining integrity, honesty, being forthright and positive - demonstrate the individual he is and the standard he maintains (which I also strive to live by).

So, with humility and respect and with no ill intension whatsoever - when reading this post I felt compelled to respond.

Cerrrot - did you attempt to resolve this incident?

And I ask; has anyone who contributed negative comments on this post addressing Innovative Audio Video had any experience with this showroom? I have and from my first walk in and every experience afterwards - I’ve had sidelines passes to the Super Bowl.

I’ve recently learned life is too short not to make every effort to enjoy ourselves with our loved ones. Sharing the enjoyment of music that stirs our senses and moves our souls - both with live performances and via great systems is something I think we all agree enriches our lives. Thanks Elliot and Chirs and everyone at Innovative Audio Video for proliferating music and performances in the cultural arts and for sharing heartfelt occasions we’ll always remember.

Most sincerely, Thomas Foti

Thomas, what a very well written, thorough, and heartfelt response. That was very kind of you! Someday I hope you get a pair of Alexia's.  You deserve them.

Happy Listening!

if either of you were on a cell phone, there's no accounting for volume and dropouts...

I would echo tjassoc’s comments.  I have purchased equipment at Innovative and I have found Elliot and Chris to be 1st class individuals and professionals.  They would have my highest recommendation.


@tjassoc  - may want to consider speaking with Elliot about a used/certified pair of Alexia 2s.  A fine speaker IMHO, and would certainly help on cost side vs Alexia Vs.

Elliot and Chris are always a pleasure to deal with. A great high end store with a very knowledgable staff that love music and enjoy selling musical satisfaction to their customers. I find it hard to believe that there is not another side to the story or perhaps a misunderstanding.

Randy H

Thanks everyone.  I was away on business.  This was resolved.  They reached out to apologize.  I still won’t buy it from them as I’m a one strike guy but they did call and apologize and offer the unit to me.  All good.  

Jays Audio Lab is also a dealer for Stromtank, if that hasn't already been mentioned.

Ed at Audio Ultra in the Seattle area is also a dealer and clean AC power expert. No finer man in high end audio retail.


Post removed 

Innovative is and always has been an excellent audio store in my experience. They have treated me with nothing but class and respect, from their admin people to the salespeople to the owner. In fact I just purchased my third pair of speakers from them over 15 years. They most certainly do not deserve the bashing that is happening on this thread. Not sure what happened on this call but it sounds like a bad connection or something. Cerrot...I suggest you go visit...I'm sure your experience will be excellent...JC 

My audio buying experience in NYC is as follows:

- Innovative Audio, 1985: I was shopping for a turntable. The salesperson was demoing a number of tables for a group. He insisted that if you were not buying a Lyn Sondek, you were an idiot. He said that VPI stood for Very Poor Imitation. As I was not going to buy a Lyn Sondek because a friend was having a poor experience with it (to fussy to set up and keep set up. I pointed this out to the salesperson and he said my friend … you guessed it: must be an idiot)
- Sound by Singer, 1985: Still looking for the turntable, but since I wasn’t dressed like a Wall Street investment banker….

- Stereo Exchange, 1985: I bought the Very Poor Imitation, a HW MK II, with a Sumiko MMT arm and a Koetsu Black, the floor demo model. I got the whole shebang for $1800.00.
- Stereo Exchange, 1986: I’m looking to upgrade from my Dyna III tube monoblocs. Dave Wasserman, the owner, listens carefully to my approach to building up my system, and I walk out with a pair of NY Audiolab Futterman OTL3s.

- Stereo Exchange is now my go to place. I don’t shop much, but when I do, I go there. In the mid-90s, I go there, I haven’t been there in 5 years. I’m looking for a cartridge to compliment my Koetsu. Dave’s not there, I talk to a salesman who seemed distracted half the time, I walk out with a Grado. I came back with it two days later. Dave sees me coming in and says “Hello Michael! Haven’t seen you in years! What can I do for you?” Dave seems to have a photographic memory: he remembers where I live, my phone number, what I’ve bought from him, and the configuration of my entire audio system. I tell him that “I bought this cartridge here two days ago, and no matter what I do, it just bounces across the record. By bounce, I don’t mean skidding, or little hops. I mean bounces, big scary ones”. He asks “What is this, a Grado?”, shouts across the showroom for the salesperson to come over, and asks him if he asked me what tonearm the cartridge was going onto. He said yes. Dave yells “Then wtf did you sell him a Grado for? He’s getting the Grado Bounce! (apparently the MMT-Grado mismatch is so infamous that it has a name) Go get him a Benz Micro!” Dave apologizes and gives me a 10% discount for the trouble. Dave’s store was once on 8th Street, was on Broadway in SoHo for the longest, I think he now has a showroom off Union Square and does mostly consulting work. Dave does not have a soft voice, but he’s not loud unless he’s shouting across his showroom at a salesperson who doesn’t know what he’s doing. Dave is the nicest, smartest and most knowledgeable guy I know in audio.
- In Living Stereo, 200-2015: By now, my system is set. I bought some moderately high end cables for my turntable-to-preamp connection here, heard no meaningful difference if at all, but the store “didn’t take cable returns”, which to me was a tip-off that the cable thing was a sham and turned me off forever to cable upgrades. But the manager here is nice and tolerates my once every year or so visit to see if there is any reasonably priced product that might cause me to see a need to upgrade. This is where I auditioned a pair of Altec 604C drivers inside Shindo cabinets. I paid $3,200 for my Altec 604Cs, including factory spec cabinets and Mastering Lab crossovers, whereas these Shindo versions were going for $33,000. Did I say “reasonably priced”? That cost more than I’ve spent on my entire system over 50 years. I asked the manager for the contact info to Shindo, and I write to them asking what they did the Altec 604Cs to justify the price differential, since they sounded no better than my pair. I got crickets as a response. But the store had sold them a week later, no doubt to some dumb Wall Street investment banker who knows how to make money, but doesn’t know how to spend it.

- About 10 years ago, I thought it time to upgrade the VPI. I notice a change in design philosophy. I call VPI and ask to speak to an engineer. Instead, I get Harry himself. He says that the EPA won’t let him sell products with lead in it anymore, that I should save myself $4,000 and simply upgrade to a HW MK IV, it will be as good as or better than a Classic. I followed Harry’s advice. What kind of salesperson talks you out of spending $4,000 with him? An Awesome salesperson.
- I went to Lyric once or twice, Park Avenue Audio the same. I didn’t find the staff there to be helpful.
- I still have all the gear that I bought at Stereo Exchange.

- As far as dealers being frustrated with shoppers “kicking the tires”: well this stuff ain’t cheap. Of course we are going to be cautious.