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About HiFiTown USA / Audiomart

Location: Crewe, VA. Original founder, Walt Bender. Current operations manager, Early Bender-Werth.

Walt had many talents. A writer and GW law graduate, he preferred a humble existence and productive work. Starting at an early age in magazine sales, he moved on to become a computer technician in the 1960s. Later serving in military intelligence (he often alluded to the irony).  Walt was also a professional carpenter, woodworker and registered meat cutter. All the while a dedicated audio hobbyist & technician. In the late 70s, he took ownership of the then fledgling  Audiomart Magazine. A precursor to the ubiquitous internet forum and online auctions; admission was by fellow subscriber reference only. Quickly printed in house as a bi-weekly, sometimes monthly booklet. At it's peak serving as the world's largest, international classifieds publication for Hi-End and vintage audio gear. Thousands of 'former members fondly recall the golden era of good deals and safe trading it provided. In 1988-89 for Absolute Sound Magazine, Walt and wife Lennice penned several articles about postwar HiFi. A coup to bargain hunters, the multi-issue review project chronicled the "best of the best" forgotten vintage USA hi-fi. These articles re-introduced classic tube products by Marantz, McIntosh, Scott, Fisher, and Pilot to name a few. Even sleepers like the Lafayette KT-600 awoke to younger US audiophiles of the 90's. Over the years Walt pioneered and nurtured native US interest in low power prewar design SE tube amps and high efficiency full range drivers. We have consulted or supplied parts & info to almost everyone in the audio business at one time or another. Walt consulted and wrote for the Orion Blue Book during the 80's and 90's. And, contributed to the ultra hip magazines Sound Practicies & Positive Feedback . Many stories circulate as to "how" the orient discovered forgotten american made sound reproduction equipment. Western Electric is surely it's apex. And, ir-regardless as to how - Japanese hobbyists were the first to re-appreciate it's industrial quality. At this time, now the early 80's, WE 1086 amps sold for a mere $300 to dealers in Tokyo. Out of curiosity, and on a hunch Walt restored one and listened to it. He immediately heard the mystical sound of it's 300A & B triodes. And the later, precise tone of WE's 350B (super 6L6) in the 124, 142 amps. We cherish and champion the WE 171C C-core as the best and most useful ever output iron ever wound.

 

Walt Bender 2006

Walt setting up a temporary party system.

Audiomart Cover

At HiFiTown, we openly investigate aging classics, slumbering discoveries to-be, famous circuits / coils, and the latest in digital / analog designs. To our dismay and nostalgic guilt  the unilateral maxim "older is better" is constantly reaffirmed. Walt passed away on July 29th, 2008. His son Early and wife Lennice carry on his ideals, knowledge and top notch sales & service expertise. A truly fascinating, ever expanding 40 year old inventory of audio awaits the HiFiTown customer. As a patron you can expect famously courteous, prompt and impeccable prep /delivery of your items. Communications and dispatch of purchase will be as immediate as humanly possible. Our direct email is, as always: orders@hifitown.com

Panatrope Wood Horn