Life is full of surprises. Even so, it came as a bit of a shock to chance upon two Saudi Arabians with high-end-audio ambitions at MOC 2013. Beyond sand, oil, and camels, very few of us have any real knowledge of what life is like in The Kingdom. But music is a universal language and music lovers a universal brotherhood, so why shouldn’t Saudis be smitten with high-end audio, too?
At Siltech/Crystal Cable’s dinner at Munich High End last year, Robert Harley and I had the opportunity to chat with two cosmopolitan young men from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia’s most modern city of four million—and to learn to our delight just how much they loved music. Since they were full of questions about hi-fi and attending the world’s premier high-end show, both of us had the feeling something exceptional was in the works involving a hi-fi store in Jeddah, although we weren’t sure if it would truly come to pass given the many cultural and economic obstacles.
After a very pleasant evening, filled with good talk about music and high-end brands, everyone went back to his respective home, and Robert and I didn’t really think about the Jeddah project again until this past CES, when I met one of the young Saudis again at another Siltech/Crystal Cable dinner.
To my astonishment, I learned that an ultra-high-end, brick-and-mortar audio store in Jeddah—called Paragon—was in the process of being finished and that Paragon’s beautifully designed showrooms (see the photos) were going to be filled with the best brands from the U.S., Europe, and Asia.
One of Paragon’s dedicated listening room will showcase Rockport Technologies loudspeakers (the top-of-the-line Arrakis), Dan D’Agostino’s Momentum electronics, and Siltech’s premium cabling. The room next door will feature Magico’s Ultimate III horn loudspeaker system, in combination with Siltech’s SAGA amplification, Crystal Cable’s Absolute Dream wiring, and a dCS Vivaldi front end. The third demo room will be equipped with the Absolute Arabesque glass speakers from Crystal Cable, SAGA amplification, Absolute Dream cables, and dCS digital. A fourth one-of-a-kind demonstration room will be devoted to an exceptional theater system called Prima Cinema, which (among other things) allows subscribers to watch Hollywood movies before their red carpet release.
The front of the Paragon store—whose Gaudi-inspired look was created by a talented local designer—will give customers the chance to audition smaller systems from Devialet, Naim Audio, Magico, Rockport Technologies,
Varios, and Crystal Cable, as well as “personal” hi-fi items like Ultrasone headphones and the promising products of Astell&Kern.
Paragon really is something unique to the Middle Eastern market: a quality audio store designed without compromise. With its four large demonstration rooms, the goal is to educate Middle Eastern customers about what high-end audio is and how it can enhance the listening experience. If Paragon succeeds (and there is every indication that it will), it may well open a vast, monied market that has previously gone untapped by high-end-audio manufacturers here and abroad.
In less than a year’s time the dream of bringing high-end audio to Jeddah has become a reality, which just goes to show that when great wealth joins hands with a pioneering business spirit and a shared love of music, marvelous things can happen. Hopefully we will have more good news to report about this new venue, which officially opens its doors in May of this year. www.paragonarabia.com