By Alex Brady
Our Dealer Spotlight this month centers on Nordost’s most southerly audio store in the world, Soundline of Christchurch, New Zealand. Soundline was founded by industry legend, Frank Denson in 1979. At the time, there was very little quality HiFi equipment available in New Zealand. As a result, Frank began building his own turntables and speakers from kits. These initiatives were complemented by also building various amplifier designs under license.
In the early 1980s import duties and tariffs began to be relaxed in New Zealand, so Frank started to attend international audio shows, such as CES in Las Vegas. He had a particular focus on wanting to import hi-end equipment and made such an impression on the likes of Accuphase, Audio Research, Kimber Kable and Meridian Audio that he began importing these brands – brands that are still part of the Soundline family some forty years later.
By the late eighties, home theater had come along. As with the two-channel brands, Soundline were passionate about importing high-end video brands that they believed in. And so the likes of Stewart Filmscreen, Runco, Harman Kardon and Yamaha joined Soundline’s impressive portfolio. Such brands were perfect for the bespoke custom home theater designs that Soundline were now offering their customers. Soundline invested in their home automation department, and their professionalism and reputation for the high standard of install work meant that they were well placed, as this area of the business naturally expanded into distributing audio and video throughout the home. The ‘wow factor’ of integrating lighting into these installs further strengthened Soundline’s reputation across New Zealand, as clients preferred to only deal with one installer.
These days, Soundline in Christchurch is run and co-owned by Terry Wyatt. Terry has had a long-standing interest in music and audio equipment. In his teenage years in the mid-1980s he would frequent the hi-fi shops in Wellington and read the American and British hi-fi magazines. He was in awe of all the reviews and pictures of equipment that he could not afford. Two months after Terry left college, he had scraped together enough money for a deposit on his first separates hi-fi system – a Denon CD Player and Amplifier with Acoustic Research speakers to enjoy listening to the likes of Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, Dire Straits, and The Cure. He wasn’t old enough to have a line of credit, so his mother acted as his guarantor. He thanked her by playing the likes of Dark Side Of The Moon until neither she or the walls could handle it anymore. He continued to spend any spare time in music shops and hi-fi shops. He was offered a job working as an audio consultant for Absolute Audio, which he embraced with typical enthusiasm. He was conscientious enough to borrow equipment from the store and began to build up his vast knowledge of audio manufacturers and their respective sonic signatures.
In 1995, after six years working at a couple of hi-fi stores in Wellington, Frank Denson asked Terry to join his Soundline team in Christchurch. Terry didn’t need asking twice, as he had admired how Frank had built Soundline up as a company, and it was considered the premier hi-fi store in New Zealand. Frank already had enough faith in Terry to be out of the country when he joined! The faith was well placed, as Terry subsequently bought into the company in the early 2000s.
Nordost has been a feature in Soundline in Christchurch for the last three years. This came about by Terry’s tried and trusted methods of taking products home to evaluate in his own system. On this occasion, this was thanks to my friend and colleague, Bjorn Bengtsson, who had left Terry with a QB8 distribution block and a range of Nordost power cords to try, after visiting him all the way from Sweden. This was over the Christmas break of 2019/2020, so Terry had a little more time than normal to audition these items at home. Terry isn’t easily impressed but he was taken aback by the difference that the QB8 distribution block and the Nordost power cords offered over the distribution block and power cords that he was previously using.
He quickly placed two Nordost orders, firstly a QB8 and power cords for his own system, and then the same for demonstration purposes in the Soundline store for their many customers to audition in their own systems at home. Three years later, on a rare day off you will find Terry enjoying the likes of Vasily Kalinnikov’s beautiful 1st and 2nd Symphonies conducted by Neemi Jarvi through his fantastic Accuphase electronics and TAD speakers, with the veins of the system being a loom of Nordost Valhalla 2 cables.
Soundline’s longstanding database of happy customers is a testament to the values instilled by the company’s founder, Frank Denson, and the encyclopedic knowledge that Terry and his trusted Lieutenant, James Heal, have of their customers’ systems. They are both firm advocates that you should always upgrade your power cords before interconnects and speaker cables in your system. To quote Terry, “It’s incredible what one or two power cords can do for the sound of your system and for audio components that you thought you knew well”.
While the team at Soundline has very much embraced new technologies, they remain very much focused on their customers’ needs in buying the right system for their respective tastes and requirements.
329 Madras Street
Mon-Fri 9am to 5pm
Saturday 10am to 2pm
(03) 379 5695