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We're dedicating this week to the kind of fantastical shopping that most of us only get to experience in dreams. Taking a page from casino parlance, we'll be talking a lot about "whales," those big spenders who feel perfectly comfortable dropping tens of thousands of dollars every night on roulette, or, in our case, on Cartier, caviar facials, and Chanel. Welcome to Whale Week 2013.
Music enthusiasts with a taste for superior sound equipment—particularly the Ball and Buck gent—can appreciate this Back Bay retailer's cohesively-coordinated audio collection. Built on collaborations with select American-made turntable and speaker manufacturers, items in the line retail anywhere from $695 for speakers and subs up to $1348 for a tube amplifier. The pieces are finished with bamboo, coming in natural and caramelized colorways.
Sure, those might be accessible price points in the luxury audio universe, but we'll bet that the average dude has never considered investing in hi-fi equipment like this for his home. Chatting with Ball and Buck owner Mark Bollman revealed the value of the set—making it a smart buy for people with money to burn.
Why did you decide to venture into an audio collection?
I think the store is centered around having iconic and critical pieces that any real gentleman needs to have. While your iPod dock is OK, I think a real turntable, vinyl high-end system is a critical component of well-rounded gentleman. The dock isn't enough. Where do we go from there? For me, it was "Let's make the best audio setup you can." But not spend an exorbitant amount. In this world, you can spend $50,000 on just a single turntable with another $50,000 for the tonearm, so my design was to utilize the dollars as much as possible for good value. It still competes with the best of them.
How did you identify which companies to partner with?
I had been in conversation with three: SOTA, a turntable manufacturer out of the Chicago area, and a couple West Coast companies. Bottlehead primarily makes kits for people to build their own amps, so again, these guys are really into the idea of mass-market high-end audio. Their master builder crafted these kits to be picked off a shelf.
Then we have Blumenstein, a master woodworker, really into acoustics. When we opened shop we had discussed the idea of using bamboo speakers and matching it to the bases for the amps themselves. Then I took a wood sample from the two colors so they could match to the other companies' pieces. They are all made to go as a cohesive set.
Was it hard to find Made in the USA audio companies?
To a certain extent. Fortunately there is a market for the high-end audio here, though a lot of them come from Germany as well. But then we found who was doing it best in the US.
What does music mean to you? How does it relate to the Ball and Buck lifestyle?
I think the Ball and Buck lifestyle is lived with a vinyl record playing in the background.
And what is playing on that record?
Classic Zeppelin, classic rock. It was good when it was new, it is good now, and it will be good in the future. It's not specific or a trend. It has been an accompaniment to a lot of great times.
If you're looking to experience the collection's sound, look no further than the outfitter's brick and mortar space. The shop is equipped with the set, and we imagine plenty of Boston man caves are as well.
· Ball and Buck [Official Site]
· All Ball and Buck coverage [Racked Boston]
· All Whale Week coverage [Racked Boston]