The Audio Element Experience
By Ian Forte
There I was, cruising down Old Town Pasadena on a Friday afternoon. Deciding to avoid the craziness of Colorado Blvd, I wandered through Union Street on my way to Memorial Park Station. As I was walking along, something caught the corner of my eye. It was an audio store! I wandered in with bewildered eyes as I soaked in everything I saw. Speakers, amps, and vinyl records colored my vision as I thought to myself, “how could a music lover like me not know about this place?” A long time musician and music aficionado, I have always sought out superior sound. After years of searching, I found it at Audio Element.
As much as I thought I knew about hi-fi sound, I never considered turntable playback to be part of that conversation. I could not have been more wrong. The staff, led by owner Brian Berdan, explained to me the advantages that vinyl playback has over other forms of music at certain situations. As I was taking in all this new information, I had some time to talk with Brian and learn about his history in the industry. Brian is the son of legendary Brooks Berdan, who owned and operated a high fidelity audio store in Monrovia during his lifetime. Brian began working for Brooks in his early 20s and began to soak in all of Brooks’ knowledge about turntables and hi-fi sound. Over the next 15 years, Brian would go on to create a legacy of his own. When his father passed a few years back, Brian stepped out and opened Audio Element in 2013. The operation has seen steady growth since then, and Brian is now regarded as one of the best in the business.
Brian and the rest of the staff walked me through different systems, letting me hear for myself small but key differences amongst a wide array of turntables, speakers, and amplifiers. They explained to me how Brian has cherry-picked the best equipment in any price range, from a few hundred dollars, to a few hundred thousand, and can put together an amazing system for any budget. They even showed me the ultimate audiophile aspiration: Audio Element’s purpose-built listening room. Imagine a room in your house built and designed for the sole purpose of listening to music, and that room is filled with the best equipment in the world. These realizations have come to life in Audio Element’s purpose-built listening room. It literally changes the way you experience music, exposing nuances you never knew existed in your favorite songs. This room has set the bar for what my musical system could eventually be, and had opened my eyes to new aspirations.
Those aspirations aside, the staff did eventually help me put together and amazing sound system that is perfect for my current living situation (I live in a small apartment) and budget. I walked out with a new Rega RP1 turntable, a Pro-Ject amp and phonostage, and a sweet set of Wharfedale Denton speakers. It is without question the best audio system I have ever owned. The atmosphere that Brian and co. have created is friendly, warm, and welcoming to beginners. I could not have felt more at ease there, and the wealth of knowledge I obtained is invaluable. I will forever be grateful for Audio Element. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go flip to Side B!