Here's the scenario: you're out grocery shopping and minding your own business when, walking back to your car, a white van suddenly pulls up and out jumps two burly men. You think some sort of physical harm will come to you. Did you bring up polarity at Audio Asylum? Whatever flashes through your mind, you think your life is done.
In fact, your life is safe but your audio is not because you've been selected by the Theater Research direct marketing campaign. Yes, the burly men open up the back of the dealership-on-wheels to reveal incredible equipment at unheard of prices! Why, their boss is going out of business or the speakers fell off the truck or they stole them from some grandmother, whatever. The point is that, according to their website and the recent Stereophile ad, the speakers costing upwards of six grand are available to you for a fraction of the price!
Are these those bizarre speakers HP was talking about? Who knows, but the deal is too good to pass up. You get them home and, surprise, they are junk. Then you go on ebay to sell the speakers, thinking you'll at least make your money back if not a nice little profit. But, alas, ebay is already packed with identical models going for pennies. And that's when you raise your fists to the sky and curse the audio gods.
The company is Theater Research (and their alter ego Elite Audio) and white van direct marketing is their gimmick. They're a Chinese company "creatively" styling their "speakers" to look like famous models from B&O, B&W, Krell, NHT, Sony, "Bose" and others. They overprice the speakers on their website and engage in all kinds of marketing fun:
As our world continues its transition to a totally digital environment, TR Theater Research leads the way with pure digital home entertainment products. People who know sound, know "TR Theater Research". It's a name that commands respect because for many years TR Theater Research has consistently set the very highest standards in loud speaker technology development.
The best part? Elite Audio's new Z-3 A/V Receiver has 3000 watts of tube power in "patent pending" technology. That's right, 600 watts into 5 channels of pure tube glory. If you're not familiar with tubes, that's about as big on the BS meter as one can get. Tubes are all about low power and monsters of tube like VTL are able to hit 800-1250 watts with their monoblocks the size of Balkan countries, not slim receivers. Oh, and Elite Audio's Z-3 receiver gets all 3000 watts from just one tube. Judging from the picture in Stereophile, it's General Electric's single-ended incandescent.
I've been visited by the white van and, in truth, it made my day. Never hurts to have a little humor. And, yes, Stereophile does have 8 pages worth of TR ads in their recent issue. The non-audiophile ad department and the reviewing staff at S'Phile don't talk to each other so TR was able to slip through the cracks. Rest-assured TR won't make it into the next issue.
Moral of the story? White vans are for ice cream, not audio. Then again, having a roving audio demo is kinda cool. As someone or other said, the outdoors are gods-own acoustic chamber. Maybe I'm too harsh. Public audio demos may be a great way to reach the new blood. Could TR be the Moses to our industry's promised land???