Friday, February 18, 2011

Visit with Austin Hifi and the Austin Hi-Fi Society

Today I was able to meet two Austin audio personalities who are truly interested in bringing something new to the table. The first was Lance Kimmons, who has recently started the Austin Hi-Fi Society. Lance is unique in that he is young, knowledgeable and also savvy about computers and the Internet. In his spare time he has accumulated a lot of choice vintage gear including a number of exquisite and well-maintained Altec-Lansing speaker systems. I'm looking forward to visiting with Lance in the next few weeks to listen to his system. He also just purchased a very nice Linn LP-12 a few days ago, and he's having one of the best Linn techs in the area tune it up for maximum performance. Lance, like me, always wanted to own a Linn at least once in his life, and now he's getting his chance to explore this classic turntable.

I met Lance in downtown Austin at Austin Hifi, which is owned by Creston Funk, one of the most interesting personalities in our industry. Creston has been involved with audio since the 1950s, and now he has the chance to sell some genuinely fascinating brands such as Tocaro single-driver speakers and Crimson Audio. I had the pleasure of listening to the smaller Tocaros mated with the Resolution Audio Cantata Music Center, a Reson turntable and cartridge, and a Crimson preamp and monoblocks.

The sound from this system was anything but typical commercial hi-fi and reminded me of my days with high efficiency speakers and low-powered single-ended triode amplifiers. The Tocaros, which were spaced far apart in a fairly large and open room, provided a huge but delicate sound. The soundstage was spread across an unusually large area, which allowed me to really dig deep inside of the music. This system may not be the ultimate solution for audiophiles who want to rock, but with more sedate musical selections the overall sound was intriguing, musical and unusually engaging.

Creston (who runs Austin Hifi with his son Creston Jr.) invited me back anytime for a more detailed listen in the near future. I approached Creston about an interview for a future column for The Vinyl Anachronist, and he was receptive. If all goes well, I'm shooting for the June edition. (The April column will be about listening to 78rpm records with Terry Combs of Sound Mind Audio--I'll be visiting him in Dallas tomorrow.)

If you'd like more information on Austin Hifi, check out Creston's website at To see what's going on with the Austin Hi-Fi Society, check out Lance's Facebook page at

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