Vinyl Obsession: Revilla Grooves on Main Thrives in the Age of Streaming Page 3

S&V: What’s the rarest record you’ve come across?
Revilla: That Alphataurus record is up there. That was a crazy rare find. And that first collection of 78s had a Tim Wilkins (a.k.a. Robert Wilkins) on Vocalion that went for $3,000.

S&V: Ever get into any Edison stuff?
Revilla: I had some Edison (electrically recorded) flat discs—not the Diamond Discs—by bands like Golden Gate Orchestra that were selling for a hundred or two apiece. Those are great. But there was one Edison disc that came in a promo sleeve—we’re talking 1908. I got serious money for that. One of the rarest, not necessarily the highest priced, was a John Philip Sousa test pressing on Monarch from the late 1800s or early 1900s that went for two grand.

S&V: How did you arrive at the decision to sell only vinyl? Was it that you didn’t want to deal with CDs?
Revilla: It’s not always smart to go with what you love but in this instance it was what I love. It was simply that. I do have some CDs that I’m looking to off load or put online at some point, but vinyl is what’s hot right now. CDs are not.

S&V: In your estimation is vinyl a fad?
Revilla: It’s a scary thought because I do believe there’s a bubble. Nothing lasts forever.

S&V: And there’s that generational element at play...
Revilla: There is. My daughter’s 15. Will her generation care? It’s hard to say. I think there will always be a collector's market. The 20 and 25 year olds who come in here and shop might only get deeper into it like I did. I went from spending a buck a record to, well, $100 isn’t that bad for a record you really want. Whether we can do Fleetwood Mac Rumours for $10 forever—that I don’t know. I hope so, but I don’t know.

S&V: Tell me about that special section you showed me the other day.
Revilla: Oh, one of my favorites. It’s a three piece section of records that are all kind of in the same realm: Surf and Hot Rod, Cheesecake, and Weird and Strange. First of all, it’s kind of hard to figure out where to put Martin Denny. And where does Lester Lanin go, or Yma Sumac? So when you have a Weird and Strange bin you can put the Esquivels in there along with the Learn to Type records and Rudy Ray Moore records. That section’s a lot of fun.

I had two instances where that genre brought people to the table. One woman liked the section so much that she brought a friend here. Another woman came in and said I like Sergio Mendes. What else do you have that’s like that? Oh, Martin Denny—not exactly the same, but within that range.

S&V: Let’s talk about gear. Was it part of your offering from Day 1 here at the store?
Revilla: Yes. I would never profess to be the last word on gear. I’ve worked with people who have high-end audio and video shops and I learn from them. But for me the gear is a couple things. I love the sound of really high-end gear. Because I buy and sell, I was able to build myself quite a system that I probably couldn’t afford otherwise. Also, aesthetically, there’s just something about turntables that I can’t get enough of—and something about knobs and dials, silver faceplates, and wood bodies with real veneer that I just love. And as it turns out, when you put this stuff out on display, other people love it too, so it just builds on itself.

Turntables is an area where I do have a good amount of knowledge. If you bring one in I can set it up and get it running for you, balance the tonearm, and make sure the stylus is properly aligned. I’ve become quite good at that from doing it every day as a hobby. If a receiver or amplifier is actually working and just needs to be cleaned up, I’m very good at that, too. For things I don’t know how to do, I have experts who help me. I have a guy we call the turntable doctor, Steve Frosten. This Rek-O-Kut (K-34H) turntable from the mid-60s looked like a piece of garbage when I got it. He redid the base, stripped and refinished the arm, cleaned everything, and got it running. People come in and say, oh my God, that’s a gorgeous turntable.

Aesthetically, there’s just something about turntables that I can’t get enough of — and something about knobs and dials, silver faceplates, and wood bodies with real veneer that I just love. And as it turns out, other people love it too.

S&V: How do you acquire gear?
Revilla: It’s a combination of people’s homes and, since I opened the shop, people bringing in gear. I get amazing pieces. Take the Technics SL-1200 turntable—the workhorse of the industry. I get them way more regularly than I did before I had the shop and sell them refurbished for $600. You get clean out guys, junkers who get the thing for 20 bucks, or maybe it came with a bunch of other stuff, and they don’t care. Yeah, I can only pay 50 bucks because it’s hammered or it was under water or the tonearm is broken. I send it to Steve and it comes back looking brand new.

S&V: What do you charge for turntable setups?
Revilla: I do it free of charge because most of the people who come in are my customers. I love to have them come back.

S&V: Tell me about some of the gear you have or cool stuff you’ve sold.
Revilla: Before I opened the shop my business was online so all of the gear I sold was higher end.

S&V: Such as?
Revilla: Krell amplifiers. Bose 901s. I know the 901s are not considered to be top in the high-end world but there’s value to them and they’re iconic. Any Marantz gear I could get my hands on. I sold a McIntosh MC240 tube amp and a Marantz Model 7 preamplifier. I’ve had all kinds of turntables over the years.

S&V: I see you have two classic receivers here—a Pioneer SX-535 and a Harman Kardon hk 560.
Revilla: They’re both from the ’70s. The realization I came to when I opened the shop was I’m going to have 15 year-old kids who are talking their parents into buying something and they’ve only got $60 to spend. So, yeah, I’ll carry a home stereo from 1995 that’s only 20 bucks and a $30 turntable, so for 50 bucks they’re getting the whole system.

S&V: What do those two receivers go for?
Revilla: I don’t have these priced because they’re my listening station [both are hooked up to turntables] but generally old receivers without much of a following sell for around $50 to $150. I had a Marantz Model Nineteen receiver come in. It sold for $1,000 when it was introduced in 1970 and these days it sells for between $900 and $1,500, depending on condition. It’s one of those pieces that has such a reputation. It wasn’t working so I took it to my repair guy and now the decision is do I sell it or do I keep it? It’s so beautiful and sounds so good. With turntables I’ll bring in whatever I can get. Some of your lower end Technics make great $50 turntables for the kid up the street who just wants to get started. Right now I also have a Philips touch-button model and a Thorens TD 140 that’s a little higher end.

S&V: All of which leads to your personal stereo system. Tell me about it.
Revilla: It started out with a Marantz 60 as my preamp into a Carver amp and gear that I picked up to the point where I now have a VPI Classic One turntable with a Lyra Argo cartridge and that’s going into an Aesthetix Calypso preamp and an Audio Research PH-2 phono stage with a step-up in between for the moving-coil cartridge. Up until recently, I was using a McIntosh MC 2300 power amplifier but I just got back a pair of Red Rose Music Model 1 monoblocks that I had fixed. Red Rose was one of Mark Levinson’s later projects when he acquired Audio Prism in 1999. For speakers, I have Prestige Canterbury 15s by Tannoy. These were built-to-order for the Japanese market. My pair was built for a Japanese gentleman in the late ’90s. They are really large, old-fashioned looking speakers with rounded edges. That was the big upgrade. I went from Dynaudio towers with a subwoofer to these. They originally retailed for $20,000 and are still worth $10,000 to $12,000.

S&V: It’s somewhat of a lost art these days but do you actually find time to sit down and listen?
Revilla: Oh yeah, often.

S&V: What about your wife and kids?
Revilla: My wife does. The kids, not so much. For them, it’s about their iPads.

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Honestly speaking, I can't understand this resurrection of Vinyl in the digital age. In my humble opinion what can be considered a legitimate recording Vinyl is just one that is entirely processed in the analog world to its final manufacture. I disagree that a record that was processed 100% in the digital world, and then transferred to Vinyl, can have the same sound quality of a 100% native Vinyl from analog world. Long live to the return of Vinyl, but only for true ones, like those in used records store.

Anna Kirsten's picture

Since i was a child i dreamed about store like yours! Vinyl - is my best friend, i told you the truth! I listen vinyl all my life ( 24 years) and i think that nothing can be better! I am glad that i have found this site and especialy this post! Thanks!