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When discovering new valve audio brands, it's useful to know a bit about the importer's background. This is similar to developing a remote relationship with a reviewer. What equipment has he owned over the years to inform present recommendations? In the case of an importer, he invests personal fortunes. What's at stake is financial risk. That requires real conviction particularly during an economic crisis, not mere ivory-tower commentaries...

"I am 55 years old, with three children and four grandchildren. I was born in Toronto/Ontario and migrated to Vancouver in 1979, to Kelowna/BC in 1989 and to Alberta in 1999 to pursue the truck business in Alberta's energy sector. I'm planning to move back to Kelowna to be with the kids once the real estate stabilizes. Hobbies include reading, grandchildren, high-performance audio and big-block jet boating.

"I have been in the automobile industry for 34 years as a general manager, owner/operator and for the past 17 years as an independent wholesale truck broker working throughout Western Canada's oil patch. The implosion of the economy last year crushed the automotive sector so I decided that if I was to go broke slowly, audio distribution would be the preferred mode. That's because for 40 years, I have been an enthusiast of 2-channel audio, primarily tube amplification.

"I have tried and personally owned 100s of various audio pieces over the years. I did digital in a big way with Altis Audio, ARC and the big Levinsons. I have owned Quad, Wilson, Genesis, Sonus Faber and JBL horns along with ProAc, Magnepan, Hartley and Revel. The past four years saw a return to serious analog reproduction. I no longer own digital except for home theater. I have an extensive collection of tables, tonearms and cartridges, in vintage as well as new. I am a confirmed audio hardware junkie.

"In search of top-flight phono stage(s) last year, l discovered the Allnic line. After buying, trying and purchasing most of the Allnic lineup, I entered into negotiations with Mr. K.S. Park for North American distributorship by mid 2008 and became so officially December 1, 2008. Recent-built turntables owned and enjoyed include Redpoint, Verdier, Brinkman, DPS, Clearaudio, Garrard 501, Oracle and Goldmund. I'm also revisiting the vintage Technics direct drives and Thorens and Garrard idlers employing upgrades such as custom plinths and power supplies from newly spawned cottage industry enthusiasts.

"These vintage, well-executed table designs opened my ears to a fresh driving type of musical presentation especially in conjunction with horns and SET amplification. It seems as if the 50-something audiophiles are dusting off their records and are finding joy in a self-administered hands-on approach to musical playback. This appeals to the model car builder little boy in most of us - being able to customize tone, dynamics and soundstaging with various tonearms, cartridges and an ever growing choice of excellent turntables. With the SET amps, tube rolling takes this another step.

"Our goal at Hammertone Audio and with Allnic is to offer seriously good devices to fuel the 2-channel crowd. Loyalty with beta testing of the products has been fantastic this past year. Many of the original 30+ testers invested further, moving up into reference pieces in the Allnic line up . Those are comforting results giving great hope especially in economically troubled times."

David Beetles in action.