Well, with a father heavily into music and the little black boxes that play it, what hope did Nick have? At age 10, his first hi-fi system was both modest and creative. Nick became the happy recipient of his father’s hand me downs; a Garrard 301 turntable and a Star Valve Amplifier. The speaker situation is where Nick got creative. He decided to mount a twin-cone Wharfedale mono speaker…into his wardrobe! A big box, with plenty of clothes for damping…genius!

While working for Lockheed Aircraft & Hawker Siddley Electronics, Nick gained a precious electronics background. He was also moonlighting doing speaker repairs for Leek, KEF & Wharfedale, and was often called upon by friends for advice when buying hi-fi components. In 1974, Nick decided to share his passion and knowledge from a retail base, and Riverina Hi-Fi was born.

Located on the main drag in Brookvale, Sydney, this little shop packed a mighty punch with all the big names of the 70’s; Linn, Naim, Rega, Sugden, A & R Cambridge (now Arcam), Thorens, Dual and NAD (though only the 3020 amplifier). As a testament to their quality, all of these brands are still around more than 30 years later.

Over the years Nick lived and breathed hi-fi. For fun, he staged quite a few hi-fi shows in Sydney. He met and discussed sound with many of the industry’s groundbreakers and revolutionaries including John Dawson (Arcam), Roy Gandy (Rega), Dr Noboru Tominari (Dynavector), Ted Nakamichi (Nakamichi), Ivor Tiefenbrun (Linn), Peter Walker (Quad) and Julian Vereker (Naim). Hours could pass debating gimble vs. uni-pivot, rear port or no port, valve vs. transistor, suspended vs. fixed and then eventually…analogue vs. digital.

In 1979, the digital medium was officially launched in Australia. But for Nick it just never quite delivered. No matter how open-minded (and indeed open-eared) Nick was, he could not hear that the new digital medium, compact disc, was better than the good old LP, crackles and all! It just wasn’t true. So as more people fell under the spell of these shiny little silver discs, (and as Nick refused to be part of the con), he decided that his services were no longer needed. He escaped the big smoke and the digital takeover and moved to the North Coast of NSW in 1989.

By 1995, Nick was back to doing what he does best…hi-fi. The Audio Room opened in Lismore, Northern NSW, to service anybody out there with a lust for quality sound. Of course, Nick always believed that it still all starts with a turntable and was always happy to demonstrate digital vs. analogue. He never owned a CD player and only had 2 loudspeakers, but he continued to listen to little boxes that make music. Of course, some just do it better…and they are the ones that make it onto the floor of The Audio Room.

Vale Nick Barovsky 1946 – 2023

See you at the great gig in the sky.