The World’s Greatest High-End Store?

Robert Harley Visits Istanbul’s Extreme Audio

The World’s Greatest High-End Store?

I’ve visited many high-end retailers around the world and seen some fabulous showrooms, but none of that prepared me for Extreme Audio in Istanbul, Turkey. If there’s an establishment with a wider selection of top brands, more showrooms, larger listening spaces, and a more elegant atmosphere, I haven’t seen it.

Extreme Audio is located in an upscale part of Istanbul in the same building as the Sheraton hotel. Take an elevator down one floor and you’re greeted by an expansive and elegant high-end showroom unlike any other. For starters, the place is huge and spacious, with large hallways and an open communal area with seating and refreshments. And then there are the eleven listening rooms, many of them of large enough to properly showcase the world’s largest and ambitious loudspeaker systems. The listening rooms, each named after a classical composer, are filled with a Who’s Who of the world’s top high-end brands. Want to hear the Sonus faber Aida with Viola electronics? The KEF Blade or Focal Grande Utopia driven by Soulution gear? No problem.

Extreme Audio has so many brands that I found it easier and more interesting to take a photo of the walls displaying the lines rather than write them all down. To name but a few of the electronics lines: Pass Labs, Audio Research, Soulution, Absolare, Halcro, D’Agostino, Accuphase, Viola, Air Tight, and Ayon. Extreme Audio actually carries many more lines that you can see on the wall. Moreover, judging from the amount of display products throughout the eleven listening rooms, Extreme Audio doesn’t just claim they represent all those brands; the products are available for audition, in any combination, and in a wide range of room size. I’ve never been to a high-end retailer with this ability to properly demonstrate such a diverse array of equipment in so many combinations.

I heard some great sounding systems at Extreme Audio, including the Sonus faber Aida driven by Viola electronics and the TAD Reference One powered by TAD’s own amplifier and preamplifier. This was the best I had heard either loudspeaker. The smaller rooms (which would be large my most retailer’s standards) showcased more affordable products.

Extreme Audio represents the passion for music and audio of its founder, Orhan Aydogan, and his son Bahadir, who runs the facility on a daily basis. Istanbul audiophiles probably don’t know how fortunate they are to be able to hear so much great audio in one facility. Extreme Audio is almost like a permanent hi-fi show, but with better-sounding rooms and no crowds. The rest of the world should be so lucky.

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