Castle Hill striving to be seen, heard in Mystic
Mystic — Audiophiles would do well to find their way to 21 Jackson Ave. Videophiles, too.
Castle Hill Audio Video opened at the address in May, moving around the corner from the Washington Street location where it had operated since 2008.
John Miceli, who owns the business, and his partner, David Allen, who manages it, are hoping to make some noise at the new site, where 1,000 square feet of space accommodates an eclectic array of equipment. Castle Hill sells and installs audio and video systems for homes and businesses, offering turntables, vinyl records, speakers, amplifiers, music streaming sources, sound bars, subwoofers and TVs.
It also provides A/V support and design for schools, restaurants, night clubs and churches.
Miceli, 49, of Old Mystic, also owns JDM Electric at the same Jackson Avenue address, a business he founded at about the same time he started Castle Hill. JDM, which specializes in residential and commercial electrical work, eventually “took off,” leaving Miceli with little time to give Castle Hill the attention it deserved.
“It’s a business of passion more than anything else,” he said of Castle Hill. “You can only get so passionate about electrical work.”
Enter Allen, 59, of Richmond, R.I., a longtime friend of Miceli’s who found himself in the job market after working in corporate information technology for more than 20 years.
Both men trace their interest in sound to stints as musicians. Miceli started playing the drums in the 1980s, then realized he enjoyed “the sound stuff” more than the playing.
“I didn’t have to practice as much,” he said.
Allen, a veteran working musician, plays the bass as a member of Sunday Gravy, a local band that’s partial to the classic rock of the 1970s. He’s also been collecting stereo equipment for decades.
Installations account for about 60 percent of Castle Hill’s business, with retail sales generating the rest, a share that’s likely to increase over time, Miceli said.
“We’re just getting going. Until we get the word out, no one knows we’re here,” he said.
Nevertheless, Allen said the shop gets calls from people as far away as the Boston and New York areas who inquire about the high-end equipment Castle Hill carries.
“Unless you’re in a major city, a lot of audiophile-grade equipment comes to the market only through online sales,” Miceli said. “A lot of (retail) people only carry the cookie-cutter stuff.”
Castle Hill encourages customers to listen — and see — for themselves.
“A speaker is a personal thing,” Allen said. “What sounds good to one guy sounds horrible to the next guy.”
“Same with TVs,” Miceli added. “We don’t have room to display everything we can get, but we can get it.”
Castle Hill’s clientele is about evenly split between those in the market for high-end equipment and know what they want and those who come in precisely because they don’t know anything about what’s available, Allen said. What they walk out with largely depends on what they can afford.
Allen said he gets a kick out of “the kids’ ” reaction to turntables and vinyl records popular in a foregone era.
“It’s a niche, but it’s a big niche,” he said of the records sold today, in many cases reproductions of the originals. “Ten years ago, we were selling CD (compact disc) players. Now, we hardly ever sell a CD player.”
In “one guy’s basement,” the company wired up a movie theater with leather seating, a sports bar and a golf simulator.
“We can get pretty custom,” Miceli said.
Business: Castle Hill Audio Video
Owners: John Miceli and David Allen
Address: 21 Jackson Ave., Mystic
Hours: Wednesday-Friday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
More information: (860) 599-1234 or www.castlehillaudiovideo.com
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